6 API Trends and Practices to Know for 2024
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are mission-critical to business, as organizations of all sizes and across all industries rely on API integration to connect applications and data sources. The recent surge in digital transformation initiatives, accompanied by the proliferation of apps and data, has only increased the importance of having effective API management and a strong API strategy.
Recent trends and advancements across the API ecosystem are bringing innovations and value to API development, API management, API security and more. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Gartner about the evolving API landscape — here are six key API trends and practices to know.
Trend #1: APIs from Multiple Sources
Companies are increasingly relying on APIs sourced from third-party providers, including open APIs. This is because some functionalities or data can be provided more efficiently by an externally developed API than by an internally built one.
Consequently, companies need to make sure that their API strategies and technologies include the ability to manage all internal and external APIs across their API economy to ensure proper security and governance.
Trend #2: Multiple API Standards and Formats
While RESTful APIs are still one of the most popular API architecture styles, other API formats go beyond the typical request-response model. For example, AsyncAPI (for event-driven architectures) and GraphQL are two newer formats with different rules and structures that solve different use cases.
This is where a solid API management solution that offers the capability to govern and manage all API specifications is needed.
Trend #3: Unbundling API Technology
Many organizations use an API management platform that provides all the capabilities needed to manage the entire API lifecycle process, from API design to testing to security to publishing and more.
Today, there are vendors that provide a select subset, but not all, of these functionalities. An organization may start with a bundled suite or a vendor that offers almost everything it needs but add a different vendor that specializes in a specific phase of its API lifecycle. The most common API technologies to unbundle are developer portals and API gateways.
Trend #4: API Technology Sprawl
A potential negative outcome of unbundling API management technology is called API technology sprawl. Using API technologies that come from multiple vendors that aren’t strategically connected can lead to a lack of centralized governance, poor visibility across your API ecosystem and security vulnerabilities.
Trend #5: API Gateway Evolution
Gateways have often been considered a main differentiator of API management solutions. The more functionality and security they had, the better. Now, as companies embrace multicloud environments and microservices, the API gateway needs have changed, including the role it serves and its overall architecture. Many organizations are now adding lightweight gateways deeper into their architecture.
These lightweight gateways are low footprint, easy to deploy and have well-defined functionality. They become commoditized and solve a specific problem. While many companies still need more robust enterprise gateways, more of the smaller, lightweight gateways are coming into the market.
Trend #6: Advanced API Security
An API security strategy needs to not only solve today’s threats but also emerging ones. However, with more advanced attacks on APIs and an exploding number of APIs that need to be secured, API security is becoming a superhuman problem.
Advanced API security uses automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning to better protect APIs from vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and attacks. Common advanced API security capabilities include being able to identify unmanaged and potentially unsecure APIs, assess APIs for misconfigurations and vulnerabilities and detect abnormal API traffic in real time to block malicious traffic.
For more insights and to dive deeper into the emerging APIs and API management trends, check out this 30-minute webinar featuring IBM and Gartner.