As APIs continue to grow in number and maturity, companies are looking at how to generate more value and revenue out of them. This usually leads them to move beyond internal teams of application developers, who work with an API portal, to external partners and ecosystems, where new revenue sources and new markets are available. This shift is the primary driver for an API marketplace.
Let’s look at 5 reasons this shift drives many companies’ need for an API Marketplace, and some key differences between an API portal vs API marketplace.
1: Create a compelling developer experience
While a generic developer portal is a common feature of most vendors’ API Management solutions, it is focused on internal application developers with a need for technical access and collaboration. This audience knows the systems they are trying to access, the platforms where they are deployed, and usually who to call if they have questions.
This changes with an external audience. They typically need a more “business service-level” view of the interfaces you provide. They need more documentation, sample code, and ways to test these services. This includes an easy way to discover, subscribe to your service, get the credentials that are needed, and know who to contact when it doesn’t work.
In short, these external partner and ecosystem developers represent a new persona for whom you need to create a compelling developer experience if you want to succeed.
2: Deliver API products, not just APIs
As you start to open your existing APIs to external audiences, you will find that many are too granular for wider adoption. Some would make more sense if they were grouped together as higher-level business functions. Indeed, you need to think of all your business-level capabilities as API products. This means including microservices, events, and all needed technical APIs into a higher-level API product. This should include other artifacts like non-technical documentation, service level commitments, and consumption plans.
The packaging of your product needs a fresh perspective in light of the new persona that will use it. This typically falls to a new role: the API product manager, who is responsible for designing and packaging these API products as well as managing their lifecycle.
3: Simplify the portal design; build, manage, and maintain process
Just like the retail store is designed, built, and managed differently than the warehouse that supplies it, an API marketplace (retail store for a specific audience) should be separate experience from the API portal/gateway (warehouse) that hosts it. Most API portals are build-it-yourself took kits (CMS) that IT needs to customize, develop code around customizations, host, and maintain.
An API marketplace is typically a SaaS solution that can allow your customizations without building and maintaining separate environments. It also provides configuration-based branding to simplify the design, build and management process all without IT developers.
4: Management (credentials, quotas, monetization)
To effectively market your API products, you also have to think about managing your offers in the market. Things like security credentials, quota setting and enforcement, consumption plans, and invoicing have to be designed and managed. Most portals can only support this functionality through expensive customization, while marketplaces excel at this functionality.
While you might not be thinking about direct API monetization today, it is an option that you will want to be able to turn on in the future. Many customers are using chargeback models for internal-facing marketplaces to track value.
5: Scale beyond a single vendor portal
We saved the biggest driver for last. Research tells us that most enterprises have three or more API Management solutions, each with their own API portal. They may have one for AWS, one for Azure, one for on-premises gateways, and the complexity grows with different business silos, and geography deployments. An API Marketplace can unify all API assets into one repository, where they can be validated, secured if necessary, and then curated into API products and promoted into an appropriate marketplace with monetization.
An API marketplace like Amplify Enterprise Marketplace can help you drive greater adoption of your APIs and recognize their value by making it possible to:
- Build API products across deployment platforms with consistent offering management
- Offer a consistent subscription experience regardless of deployment
- Validate documentation and security
All without impacting the existing API management solutions that you have in place today.
Bonus: how do I make the business case for an API marketplace?
Download this infographic to see who stands to gain tangible benefits when you build your own API marketplace.