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API Ready model step 7 – Monitor

Wed, 12/16/2015 - 11:01 -- Fredrik Svensson
Your great API is finally published – but is it really being used and by whom?

Let's for a minute presume that we have done everything right – we have defined a strategy, designed according to the strategy, devopsed our APIs, visualized and tested. Now – it's time to publish them for usage by our intended target audience. But how will we know how our newly published APIs will be received and used? Are we reaching our target group and are they using it as intended? Is anyone unwelcome trying to use our API or is the API swamped with unintended usage? 

Do you have a monitor approach?

To be able to answer all these questions and follow up on the API usage you need an approach to monitor your APIs. You need adequate information for decision making on how to proceed with your API initiative and how to adjust. The most common way to do this is to use an API Manager. These come in different variations from various vendors. They can be based on Open Source or proprietary solutions, be installed on prem or in the cloud.

Our recommendation is to carefully investigate the different solutions and make sure the product you choose suits your requirements. Another generic recommendation is to go for a solution that gives you the highest level of flexibility. We are still quite early into the years of the ”API economy” and we can be certain of the fact that requirements and challenges for our API initiative are likely to change over time.

Which is the API Manager for you?

For instance, an API Manager that is cloud based is the easy choice to get going and you don't have to think about scaling (other than the costs), since the supplier will take care of that for you. On the other hand your APIs and the monitoring of them might be crucial to your business in the future or legislation might require you to host your APIs in your own geography. This might make you turn for an in-house/on-prem solution over time. This potential development creates a requirement to go for an API Management solution that can be hosted both in the cloud, but also deployed in-house/on-prem. This is just one example on how your requirements may wary over time.

Another decision is Open Source versus proprietary. Maybe you think that you will go for the well known - the proprietary option. But before you decide, take into account that the API Management solutions that have been around for the longest period of time are based on Open Source and that Open Source always will give you unprecedented flexibility in terms of deployment options and access to source code.

Your monitoring strategy and tool should also allow you to make business decisions based on the intel provided. If a specific public API is being used by many apps or other external users, it might present a possibility to add a transaction cost or similar to make money on publishing your data. You can potentially create an enriched API variant for one of your popular APIs and create a new revenue stream that way. Your API Manager shall also make it possible for you to throttle usage from unwanted or non-prioritized users of the API. Other financially oriented decisions based on the monitoring data, is tuning the computing power we need to reserve and pay in order to keep our APIs running and is telling us what to improve in order to increase API usage or ease access for the target group.

Setting up a monitoring strategy and choosing an API Manager that allows you to implement this strategy is vital for your API initiative success. Choose an API Manager that gives you the highest level of flexibility and ensures that you can measure the vital Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) of your API strategy. The API Manager should also include functionality to assist you in securing that the right users are accessing your APIs, that undesired access can be restricted and that over usage can be throttled.

Happy reading!

API Readiness guide

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