Harnessing the power of APIs

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Growth in the application programming interface (API) market is explosive. Today, everyone is using APIs - even if they do not realise it ? and the pervasive, expanding nature of the market means businesses need to know how to manage APIs to tap into their true power.

This is according to Darren Horne, senior solutions strategist at CA Technologies. "The most useful and dynamic mobile apps integrate with applications and data through APIs, but harnessing the true value of the API to deliver innovative mobile apps is not simple."

Horne was part of the Layer 7 Technologies group, which CA Technologies acquired last June. In his role at CA Technologies, Horne oversees the company's API management and security product, the Layer 7 API Management Solution.

Telcos need APIs, he points out, because APIs reduce business friction by allowing software systems to work together and communicate using common technology.

He says deploying an API is easy, but deploying an effective and secure API is not. "Businesses first and foremost need to know why they are deploying an API. Then they need to identify the nature of the data they will be exposing through the API and secure it accordingly."

Horne says the Layer 7 API Management Solution adds a layer of security and allows the company to mediate and manage all data traversing the API cycle.

API outlook

According to research by Layer 7, 86.5% of organisations will have an API programme in place within five years. Over 43% have an API programme in place already, 27% will be implementing one in the next year, and 43% plan to implement one in the next four to five years.

The key business aims driving the requirement for API programmes include customer reach and retention, connected devices, revenue and innovation. Mobility programmes are driving 71.9% of API implementation, says Horne.

He says one example of API programming relevant to the South African consumer is the technology auto manufacturers are looking into, which provides information about vehicles through mobile apps. "Things like fuel level, has your car been locked, or is the alarm going off can be communicated to the car owner through his mobile phone."

In SA, says Horne, this API could be useful to mitigate instances of "remote blocking" thieves who electronically jam car alarms. "Your mobile phone could alert you as to whether or not your car is locked."

An effective API, says Horne, requires corporate support, strategy, awareness, focus and value. APIs are being used for everything nowadays. Businesses deploying them need strategy and security, as well as an efficient management system to operate optimally, he says.

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