Asmo wrote in June about API economy and what kind of business opportunities it brings to organizations. This time we take a deeper dive into the technology behind the business and have a look what happens under the hood when a customer discovers and utilizes a provided service or data. And what does it mean from integration point of view?
Naturally, there is no use publishing services if nobody knows about them. Nowadays people are quite lazy to look for information, so search engine optimization is important for service providers. In addition to the actual service catalog, the service provider must have a search engine optimized page where the services offered are described.
The purpose of the advertising page is to get users to the services – i.e. customers. In addition to browsing the service offering, one can on-board for services on the advertising page, for example, by creating a user id. Registered users are allowed access to the API Library.
The catalogue contains information about existing API interfaces. The customer can browse and use various services. Often, the service provider allows users free of charge a limited number of invitations to certain services. Also a limited number of services may be free of charge and customers must pay for the whole palette.
Figure 1 Some components are shown to the API users and the rest are "under the hood"
Many service providers want to create a community around their API libraries to assist in the service development. That's why there is often a discussion board where service users can talk to other customers and even report bugs to service providers.
In order to provide services to catalogues, traditional integration work is needed in the background: connecting to various systems, message mapping, data enrichment and publishing of interfaces. The provided services are monitored: which services are used and by whom. This way the service provider is able to improve the targeting of its offerings and to bill users on the basis of their use.
Various ready-made solutions are available for providing the services: API management platform focuses on managing the public components (SEO page, discussion forum, catalogue), while traditional integration platforms focus on providing the services themselves. A hybrid integration platform rises from the “bottom" to the public side and tries to cover the whole palette as comprehensively as possible.
FRENDS provides tools for backend services up to the API Catalogue. Since the ad page and the discussion board are largely tailored to each customer, they are left out of FRENDS. The built-in version control and deployment process in FRENDS enable agile service publishing in both test and production environments. FRENDS also provides user management and tools for monitoring service consumption. Since last summer, FRENDS has also been involved with API management, which allows to publish and maintain services in a public catalogue.