WSO2 3 min

What is API?

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
API centric approach

In the past few years you hear everywhere you go about ‘API management’ and ‘APIs’, but: What is API anyhow? I used to hear this term during the ’80’s but in the past few years you hear API anywhere. It seems everybody does it, but what do we really mean?

In the old days API stands for an ‘application-programming interface’ as a set of programming instructions towards the underlying application. Now these days API stands for much more. Sure it still is an interface towards the underlying application, but more likely this interface is more about programming instructions and standards for accessing a web-based software application or web-based (cloud) services.

Let’s have a look at APIs

An API can be anything. A web-service call, a complete containerized application, a cloud based database, application, even device. So an API still is ‘application-programming interface’, but with standards in the way it should be called.

API centric approach

The fun part about APIs is the fact that as a consumer you can combine, mix and use data and/or functionality from anywhere. This brings us a enormous treasure of new functionality and opportunities.

APIs means big Business

For any company APIs mean big business. Or as a consumer of APIs offered by others, or as producer of APIs offering services to business partners. What about an App which controls all IoT in your home like TOON from Quby? Or an App that shows how the public transport currently operates, like the London Bus App? Most tools like these rely on open APIs to run and pull the most accurate data. Those are both good examples of how open APIs might help you in your everyday life, but here’s how they can help you in business.

Businesses create Apps with APIs

There are many businesses out there that build software and tools that rely on pulling data and/or services from open APIs to help streamline their business process in some new way. In fact, without APIs, many businesses would cease to exist.

People use those Apps

APIs are important for business because they allow programmers to build amazing tools that help us, the public, do our jobs more effectively. So in every day live you have Apps that helps you or your business.

Businesses rely on open APIs

APIs are also important for the businesses that provide them, because third-party developers build out applications that further the use of the company’s core product or service. This saves the API provider both time and money. For example, our customer Quby, comes with an open API to read, manage and operate your personal TOON device in your home. That way ‘Home IoT’ is personal again.

How to manage you APIs?

So, first a step back: What is API? An API is everything on the web you can interact with! The real question is: How to manage your APIs as seen as they are very important for your business.

So whether you provide an open API to the public or you provide a (paid) closed API to your specific business partner, as a provider you should protect your implementation. The last thing you want is that an external party can bring down your infrastructure.

So you probably need a solution for access management, SLA policies, Quality of Service and API Throttling policies. And of course a store where all your APIs can be explored by your consumers. So what you need is a API manager which does the magic for you.

WSO2 api manager components

The open source WSO2 integration platform is such platform where you can manage, monitor and deploy your APIs. WSO2 API Manager is fully open source and provides web interfaces for development teams to deploy and monitor APIs. and for consumers to subscribe to, discover and consume APIs through a user-friendly storefront. The API Manager also provides complete API governance and shares the same metadata repository as WSO2 Governance Registry. If your setup requires to govern more than APIs, we recommend you to use WSO2 API manager for API governance and WSO2 Governance Registry for the other artifacts.

The WSO2 API manager is part of the WSO2 open source integration platform. You can also find a solution for an Enterprise Service Bus, Identity and Access Management, and Data Analytics.

So APIs are great for business and brings an awesome way to enable new business opportunities. With tools like the WSO2 API manager you will be save. Need more info or help? Just contact us or join the WSO2 Community today to learn more like our WSO2 Tutorial blogs. 


Full API lifecycle Management Selection Guide

whitepaper hero
Get it now