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If you read any blog, publication, or marketing collateral on API management you can’t get more than a few sentences before the author throws out everyone’s favorite examples of API nirvana: Facebook, Twitter or the ever popular Netflix. It’s true that these companies pioneered the early days of API centric strategies, and the result changed the trajectory of each of their company’s future. However, they are also 3 examples of completely web [commerce] centric properties that have very little in common with the thousands of established, ENTERPRISE organizations that make up most of global corporate landscape.

So the question becomes, if you are one of the many and not one of the few – what qualities should you be looking for in an Enterprise API Management Platform?

The first concept that separates this web economy aristocracy from most enterprise business is that APIs are an extension of their enterprise architecture. Many established businesses have invested significant dollars, time and resources in deploying a Service Oriented Archictecture. Enterprise services abound and for many companies, this is the lifeblood of integration and thus it should be the foundation of a successful enterprise API program. Your API management platform should allow the leveraging of your existing enterprise services in the composition and publication your various enterprise API(s).

Just as leveraging your SOA infrastructure is an important aspect to building a successful enterprise API program, it is also import NOT to build your API platform on an island, disconnected from your core enterprise systems and infrastructure. Connecting API authentication to your identity systems, API monitoring to your operational systems, API security to your PKI infrastructure are all critical in deploying a successful and scalable Enterprise API Management Platform.

A third important aspect is to create a destination for your API consumers (business partners, developers, customers) that promotes your products or services at the core of the ecosystem. In other words, build your presence for the “App Economy” with your business at the center of this marketplace. It is often suggested that just publishing an API in someone else’s registry is an API strategy – but if we have learned anything from the role models at the beginning of this article it is that the end business goal should be to create gravity to your core business with APIs as an increasing channel of commerce or communications. Therefore your choice of an API platform should weight the social and marketplace capabilities (forums, social networking integration, customizable workflows) as highly as the purely technical aspects of the platform (i.e. security and monitoring).

So let’s review what we’ve covered:

  1. 1. You probably already have the start of a successful API program in the enterprise services catalog that drives your SOA.
  2. 2. Make your API adoption and operational life easier by making sure you leverage standard enterprise systems and infrastructure for your Enterprise API Management Platform.
  3. 3. Choose a community based platform to fuel your business growth in the new App Economy. Promoting your core business value comes from bringing consumers to you – not just distributing your API definitions to a bunch of external directories.

Facebook, Twitter and Netflix have validated the concept and paved the way with many technical innovations in the world of open APIs. However, for many enterprise class businesses success will come from combining the best of their examples with the best of your business assets and could also change the trajectory of your future. For more information on the leading Enterprise API Management Platform please visit http://www.soa.com/solution/api-management.

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