Where API management is headed in 2017

With full lifecycle capabilities, APIs mature to have a leading role in enterprise digital transformation.

Those of us who have been in the API game for a while remember a time not too long ago when API management was synonymous with “just a gateway.” Back then, we were concerned with managing SOA infrastructure, protecting against threats, and if we were especially forward-thinking, transforming data for our first mobile apps.

Since then, we’ve seen the category expand steadily as new use cases have presented themselves. First up were hybrid integrations that spanned on-premise and cloud environments. Next, those mobile apps rocketed from thousands to millions of users. Data ecosystems began to bridge business units, geographies, third-party partners, and external developers, so we brought portals and SDKs online to streamline API discovery and consumption.

In 2016, we watched as new regulations with API mandates, such as PSD2 and the 21st Century Cures Act, finally forced enterprises to build robust, compliant and sustainable APIs with decent governance. No longer the ugly stepchild of SOA and enterprise security, API management had finally come of age.

Analysts scramble to catch up

For most of its history, API management was evaluated by Gartner under the “application services governance” label. Last year, this finally became untenable due to the expanded role of these platforms in enabling digital transformation. To better cover the category and reflect the market reality, Gartner released its first-ever Magic Quadrant for Full Lifecycle API Management in October 2016. Download a complimentary copy if you haven’t read it yet.

In the preamble, it states that “full lifecycle API management is about the planning, design, implementation, publication, operation, consumption, maintenance and retirement of APIs,” and it stresses how critical these capabilities are to enabling the execution of digital strategies and generating revenue in the API economy. This is a good summary of how far API management has come from being “just a gateway,” and how many different capability sets must now be considered when evaluating a solution.

Our take on full lifecycle API management

In conjunction with the API Academy, and based on our work with hundreds of customers, we’ve mapped out a comprehensive lifecycle that iterates through nine phases of API provision and consumption. We call this our infinity diagram, and it looks like this:

Given the impact and scale of today’s digital transformation projects, it makes sense to treat APIs as fully-realized products, complete with tools and governance processes that enable the above lifecycle. To provide an infrastructure for this to happen, your API management platform should now provide all of the capabilities that organizations need to accomplish or accelerate each one of these phases.

For example, building APIs would have been outside the scope of an API management solution just over a year ago. Today, tools such as CA Live API Creator are blurring the lines between designing an API and publishing it to target environments – which helps to knit that part of the lifecycle together and accelerate time-to-market.

Where we go from here

This year, expect to see the most effective API management solutions deliver more integrated functionality across the full API lifecycle, while doubling down on the core capabilities that enterprises have come to depend on – security, orchestration, and developer enablement.

For more on the future of these tools, I encourage you to take the time to watch our 1-hour webcast on how to Elevate Your Digital Strategy with Full Life Cycle API Management or download our latest ebook, Five Pillars of Full Lifecycle API Management.

Happy 2017, and best of luck in your API projects!


David Chiu is a Senior Principal for product marketing at CA Technologies, specializing in API…

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