• Daria Chadwick

Top 5 Tips for Building an API Management Strategy in 2022

Implementing an API Management strategy in 2022 is a critical next step for many API-driven organizations. But what should an API Management Strategy look like? Where

should organizations begin?


In this blog, we're breaking down some of the key steps to take when starting to build out your API strategy. Often, the most difficult part is getting started, but there are other elements that shouldn't be overlooked.


  1. Tip #1: Know the scope of the problem

  2. Tip #2: Keep the future in mind

  3. Tip #3: Design strategy to meet user needs

  4. Tip #4: Define management roles

  5. Tip #5: Implement support



Tip #1: Know The Scope of Problem (BEFORE Doing Anything Else)


In 2022, organizations are starting to understand the importance of good API Management and Security best practices and acting upon it. In doing so, they're realizing that ad-hoc approaches surrounding APIs just aren't cutting it.


There's an understanding that this process should be more efficient, co-ordinated, and transparent in some way. But there are blockers preventing that efficiency from flowing in the form of multiple stakeholders, opposing work styles, disconnected and siloed data.


One of the biggest blockers however, and the most important to address, is the lack of visibility into APIs and being unable to understand the scope of the API problem.


For the most part, organization's don’t have any real visibility into what they're trying to address. This occurs for two reasons.


First, the organization may be lacking an API Catalog. API Catalogs can help properly organize APIs and bring more clarity to the API environment.


Second, even if an organization does have an API Catalog in place, it may not be serving its purpose. When there is greater focus on the velocity of API development over documentation best practices, and when that information doesn't get updated into the system on a timely basis, it leads to developer mistrust. Mistrust leads to duplicate work.


It's important that an API Catalog is adopted - and one that serves its purpose. This allows us to better understood the scope of the problem and build a starting framework that's as accurate as possible.

That starting framework should be able to answer some basic questions, such as:


  • How big of a problem is API Security for us?

  • How much of a priority does this need to be?

  • How much risk are we potentially dealing with?


The good news is that most organizations already have the “ingredients” they need to answer these types of questions. These "ingredients" come in the form of amazingly rich datasets that sit within all an organization's API-related tools. Organizations need help pulling, standardizing, and organizing all their API-related information to create the cleanest possible system of record for APIs.


Tip #2: Keep the future in mind

The average number of APIs per company more than tripled from 2020 to 2021. On top of the attacks and the sheer growth of APIs within organizations, API call volume has grown over 140% between 2020 to 2021 (source).


When putting together your API strategy, it’s important to consider what your organization’s future needs are likely to be that accounts for this growth, and not just for the first few APIs.


First and foremost, it's critical to maintain a high-level view of your APIs. A high-level view is attained only when you know the details of that API, the data it exposes, details about the endpoints, governance of that API, and any PII data that API holds. You should have a way to judge the maturity of your APIs and determine how many resources you need to invest in them. Since APIs at different stages of their life cycle require different levels of investment, having a coherent strategy allows you to identify and meet these needs.


Tip #3: Design your strategy to meet user needs

When making decisions about API management, you must meet user needs as well as organizational goals. Make sure you understand how development teams in your organization work so your policies and processes are not counter-productive.


For example, overly strict criteria for assuring or publishing APIs might make developer teams slow to innovate as the security processes are too time consuming and rigorous.


User research will help you gain insight into how teams are producing and consuming APIs, or what technologies they are using or considering using. You can then use this research to understand teams pain points and ensure the solution is solving the problems of various teams. This also encourage the API management processes to not stifle the development of new APIs.


A robust API management process will help build credibility and trust with users of your APIs by providing better documentation and standardization. It’s important to demonstrate your APIs are well designed and well supported. For example, being clear about how you retire APIs will reassure external developers they will not suddenly lose access to an API without notice.


Tip #4: Define roles for API management

Depending on the size and structure of your organization, you might have several teams involved in building and maintaining APIs. Your API management strategy can help get answers to questions such as:

  • Who owns different parts of the API life cycle?

  • What skills or roles should API teams include?

  • How does ownership change as an API goes into service?

For example, it’s common for a central team to run the API gateway, and therefore have control over service levels and capacity. You should then consider how that responsibility might interact with the design and delivery responsibilities of an API owner, like versioning.


Having a clear structure for escalating issues will save a lot of time and energy in the future. Support from senior management or stakeholders can help formalize organizational structures and policies and ensure adoption by end users.


Tip #5: Implement Support

Support can be implemented in the form of people resources or in the form of supporting technology. Executive buy-in is always extremely helpfule. However, executives can often be removed from the details of security problems, are unaware of risk levels, and may think that adequate security measures are already in place. I


It's important executives understand the potential damning impact of exposed API vulnerabilities, and it's up to security leaders to help shine light on the topic. Failing to act quickly and efficiently in fixing API vulnerabilities can create significant problems for executives, including immediate and longtail financial losses, loss of productivity, reputation damage, legal liability, and business continuity problems.


Supporting technology can also be used to support a strong strategy. Typically, moving away from a tools-based approach to a platform-approach is a more intelligent move. The platform that you use to support your strategy should:


  • Provide visibility of all your APIs to help people discover them and promote reuse of existing technology

  • Allow you to standardize common design patterns

  • Help you automate administrative and operational tasks

  • Provide a central place for your users to access API documentation and support

  • Provide data and metrics to help you understand your API’s performance and usage

  • Help you implement and maintain good security and data protection practices


Summary


It is worth taking the time to build out robust frameworks when building an API Management strategy to ensure smoothness and lack of disruption during the management process.


It's essential to first have clear functioning knowledge of the the scope of the problem. Remember some of the basic questions you need to get answers for.


At the same time, keep the future in mind. Make sure your strategy is designed not just for the state of your APIs today, but what also accounts for projected growth.


Next, remember to design the strategy to meet user needs. If your end-users are faced with blockers and disruptions, the strategy will fail - it's critical that the people central to this effort are defined. That also includes defining management roles.


Finally, once these areas are addressed, you can begin implementing the support you need, whether in the form of people resources or supporting technology (ideally, it's both!)


 

Introducing ReactFirst: an award-winning, comprehensive API threat remediation solution that goes beyond technology to help minimize the threat caused by API security vulnerabilities.


ReactFirst helps bring together a combination of capabilities - a program, technology, and team of experts - to appropriately address the risk caused by API vulnerabilities. Instead of merely identifying problems, it tracks the organization's ability to resolve them, providing a command and control structure that delivers the necessary insights and accountability to see each vulnerability move through the remediation process.


This program is backed by executive sponsorship, supported by cross-industry experts, and enabled by state-of-the-art technology. ReactFirst works as the perfect accompaniment to your existing API strategy, providing the transparency, oversight, and control into the API Remediation process your organization needs as the risk around API vulnerabilities grows.


Talk to us to see if the ReactFirst is a fit for you, and whether it help boost your API Remediation efforts into one you can trust: https://www.reactfirst.io/contact