Over the past few years, almost every other company has integrated its systems and applications with Applications Programming Interfaces (APIs). APIs are programming interfaces that allow applications to communicate and share information. They dictate how requests are sent and received, the data formats used, and the parameters used when sending and receiving data.
Due to the continued adoption of APIs by businesses, they (businesses) have been left with no option but to implement an API governance strategy that helps in governing and managing the APIs. API governance provides guidelines on how security and API standard policies are applied when building and using APIs. Things such as tracking, versioning, deprecating, documenting, and integration are dictated by API governance.
There are different models of API governance. They include;
This model of API governance is responsible for handling multiple teams and all the specialists with handling different tasks in the lifecycle of an API. Each of the teams has a set of regulations that they follow. The distributed model brings some challenges and companies should be careful when implementing it.
The centralized model creates a team that is responsible for all changes within an API. This might include the addition of new features, elements, or even the integration of new APIs into the architecture. The roles and responsibilities of API governance are all handled from within a central system.
The decentralized model of API governance has similarities to the centralized model. However, this model allows smaller teams to validate and evaluate some of the aspects of the API architecture. This approach is preferred to the two above, but teams have to follow all the set regulations to make sure that any changes do not affect the company negatively.
API Governance Best Practices
One of the major roles of API governance is consistency. Imagine a situation where a company builds an API and the code cannot be reused when building a new one. This is where API governance comes in. In governance, an API contract helps in making sure that all APIs are not only reusable but also consistent. Furthermore, development teams can divide themselves into smaller teams with each team tackling different parts of an API.
When creating an API governance platform, businesses should come up with a central team tasked with coming up with all the guidelines and policies required when building and using APIs. If this was not done, we could have a situation where each team comes up with their own guidelines, leading to confusion and the development of poor APIs. This would, in turn, hurt the operations of the business.
Component and Code Reuse
Like we discussed earlier, almost every other company is adopting APIs for the operations of their businesses. They are doing this by either building or implementing third-party APIs. However, building and using an API does not mean that you will never change it. You can change the version or build another API.
Therefore, companies need to have policies that allow them to reuse the code or even different components of the API. This fast tracks the process of releasing new software and would be quite difficult without proper API governance.
An API governance platform should provide companies with policies and guidelines on how to handle styling when building APIs. This, again, goes down to consistency. It ensures that all APIs developed by a company follow the same guidelines, making usage, integration, and implementation easy.
Finally but not least, APIs need versioning to keep track of different releases. Good governance should provide guidelines on API versioning to make sure that developers and API users are able to track different versions of an API, as well as maintain each version as required. Depending on different situations, governance allows companies to implement content negotiation instead of versioning in some instances.
API governance should also include guidelines on automation, tracking, deprecation, and discovery. This way, companies will be able to save a lot of resources, especially money, time, and manpower. This is because they can reuse different API components, develop APIs proactively, and come up with APIs that meet their availability, performance, and security requirements.