Jana Frejova recently joined Tech Talks Daily podcast host Neil Hughes to discuss growing enterprise API complexity, how it’s slowing down future growth, and what to do about it.
Refresher: What is an API?
Frejova shared a useful analogy for those who aren’t so familiar with Application Programming Interfaces: she likens APIs to a hotel concierge.
“Imagine you stay at a hotel, and you need to find a service, so you speak to the concierge to get connected. This could be something internal, provided by the hotel like dinner reservations at the hotel restaurant, or external like golf or theater tickets. And essentially, the concierge simplifies your access to these different services. APIs are essentially the concierge of the digital world — they enable businesses to speak the same language and really power the global digital economy.”
APIs have enabled the rise of fintech, for example, (PayPal, Stripe, or Coinbase all offer extremely popular APIs), and eBay generates 60% of its revenue from APIs. APIs are the glue of the digital world.
API complexity on Tech Talks Daily podcast
With the rise of APIs, though, has come increased IT complexity. As different business units decided to adopt APIs to grow revenue or craft better customer experiences, they built their own APIs.
Soon APIs were proliferating independently in different departments or regions within large enterprises. And each of these units adopted its own API management solution.
Research shows the average enterprise has two to three API management vendors and plans to adopt more soon.
However, 40% of organizations have three or more API management vendors (not to mention unmanaged APIs left in the wild), and most don’t intend to consolidate to a single vendor throughout the enterprise. Thus, complexity is growing, but Frejova explained that it can be an opportunity.
Complexity pain points
API ecosystem complexity, if unmanaged, is slowing down enterprises. Frejova says businesses are encountering several major pain points that stem from this complexity that fall into three categories:
The power of APIs stems from their reusability: teams don’t need to build something from scratch, but can leverage existing integrations and reuse APIs an indefinite number of times.
But reuse isn’t possible if teams don’t know that an API exists in the first place, and it is very difficult to reuse APIs without a solid approval process in place to access them.
Complex, multi-vendor systems lack that overall view. And it’s expensive to repeat work unnecessarily: the average API costs $30k to build.
If different regions or units have different approaches, designs, and preferences, it’s hard to scale innovation across a whole enterprise or the partner ecosystem: there is no common language.
You cannot secure what you don’t know exists. APIs are powerful, but they’ve also been behind some serious data breaches, and it’s incredibly important to know what you have and where in order to be able to secure it.
It may sound like simplification would be the key to solving these pain points, but Frejova says API complexity happens for good reasons, such as a need for local autonomy.
Instead, she argues enterprises should master it and control it: as she puts it, you will not go fast if you ignore it.
“At first glance, simplification seems more logical. But I don’t think it’s realistic, and that’s why mastering the complexity, embracing it, is the smarter way to go than simplification…
Going down the simplification path means that different business units or regions have to adapt to the technology choices of their company, rather than having technologies that support what they really want to do,” Frejova explained.
Embrace the complexity, armed with the right tools
The task then is to keep, even boost, the agility that autonomous business units create with their own particular applications and API ecosystems amid the tech sprawl that they also perpetuate.
Teams need creativity and flexibility, so it’s essential to have a centralized governance system, while at the same time offering developer teams autonomy so they can work in the languages and platforms that make sense to them.
Companies still want the freedom to use different API vendors for different solutions. And they need the freedom to manage all of those APIs as they see fit — and to be able to freely access all of their data without it being locked into silos.
It’s why Axway offers the full lifecycle API management platform for the next generation. And we’re the only provider to automate the discovery, reuse, and governance of all your APIs across multiple gateways, environments, and vendor solutions.
Discover the full results of the survey here.
Here are a few ways the Amplify API Management platform allows you to embrace API complexity:
- Automated discovery of all your API assets across your distributed IT environments (even non-Axway) for central control and monitoring
- API providers can publish, secure, track, and monitor their assets while retaining independence to use existing or new technology
- Amplified Catalog brings producers and consumers together in one place to facilitate reuse and speed adoption.
- API consumers can more easily discover, subscribe, and consume API assets to accelerate time to value for digital business
Armed with the right tools, Frejova concludes, companies will be able to tame their IT without replacing or disrupting what they already have.
Amplify gives enterprises the agility to adapt and innovate quickly, build better customer experiences, and discover new opportunities faster than ever before.
Listen to Jana’s appearance on the Tech Talks Daily podcast.
Read how enterprises are conquering complexity and bringing more value with Amplify in the white paper, Bring your APIs in from the wild.