In this era of digital transformation, one of the key issues being raised is “What do we do about API management?” Enterprises increasingly need to share their datasets with partners, customers and other third parties. Often, their existing software is unsuited for this purpose, requiring a middleware layer that can merge datasets meaningfully and expose them to approved stakeholders securely. Does this mean dedicated API management software is needed? Not at all!
What is an API?
API’s have now become the technology to enable entry points that allow an application to interact with another system. Previously in the days of client-server, enterprise application integration was the technology that allowed tight interaction between applications over different platforms. But the growth of distributed and cloud platforms requires a looser coupling. As we explained in a previous blog post, due to various technical and non-technical reasons, APIs have become the preferred solution to integrate applications.
API management in Flowgear
We have architected Flowgear so it doesn’t just allow you to create workflows that consume data from almost about any type of data source and across separate networks, we’ve also enabled API management. Flowgear.io provides a secure enterprise API that can handle requests from external parties to an organization’s applications, and process business transactions without the requester needing to understand the details of the underlying applications. You can:
- use Flowgear’s workflow templates to connect to popular APIs without coding by using the visual canvas,
- build multi-API workflows to enable complex business processes,
- provide secure interactions with your own applications by exposing workflows as APIs.
We’ve added support for providing a RESTful URL template against integration workflows. If you’ve worked with Web API or WCF REST Services, the concept is similar. This feature enables you to to have variables injected directly into a Flowgear variable bar from a URL constructed like this:
You might also have cases where you don’t want to return (or accept) in JSON format. This is useful where you’re acting as a proxy to an existing service (ie. you want to make the Flowgear workflow behave like a SOAP service) or you want to return human-presentable content (ie. return HTML, an image that should be rendered in the browser, or a file). To support that, you can access the raw HTTP request and response payloads through special Flowgear variable bar properties.
API management is going to become increasingly important as the number of channels increases – whether it’s requests from your own internal departments, support needs for platforms like web and mobile, or the requirements from external sources like customers. Analysts like Gartner and Forrester are predicting that API usage and demands will be dynamic, so your API management needs to be flexible and agile. The only way you are going to ride the ‘digital business applications tiger’ is by adopting an integration platform that will enable you to embrace the new concepts of service and interface management.