APIs are here to stay and have become key technology driving Digital Transformation and enabler for business growth. Companies big and small are adopting API technology for faster business growth.

 

While the initial project to embarking on API journey is usually a pilot or a getting started set of API use cases, this usually grow over time, sometimes rather too quickly as more API opportunities are identified and line of business teams adopt APIs. The growth of API adoption requires a consistent approach for a successful API strategy and business outcomes. This would require defining uniform API discovery, API metadata requirements as well as driving uniform development practices within different organizational cultures coordinating enterprise alignment on API development and strategy.

 

Although the notion of defining API Center of Excellence is quite appealing, it is something that is better to evolve into as you go from initial APIs to wide spread adoption across the enterprise. The initial set of APIs usually get defined by small teams which collectively could form an API guild. This could grow over time and lead towards creating a API Center of Excellence based on wide number of factors as shown in the below diagram.


 

As you start with initial APIs, it is important to think of defining consistency across a set of key areas and establish a few guidelines.  These guidelines should be closely aligned with the business objectives for API adoption.

Here are the five areas you should consider establishing a few guidelines when starting on API journey. This could grow over time into a comprehensive set of governance guidelines and possibly lead towards establishing API Center of Excellence. The five areas are:

  1. API Use case identification
    • Every API should have a consumer
    • API exposure – internal or external
    • Business objectives for the API. Define success criteria
  2. API Exposure
    • Naming and API URI
    • API documentation
    • Consistent monetization plan and tiers e.g. freemium, silver, golden, platinum
  3. API Security
    • Consistency in securing APIs
    • Exposure defining API security
    • Resource access defining API security e.g. get vs post
  4. API Lifecycle
    • Versioning
    • Plans and Products
    • Ownership and Updates
  5. API Taxonomy
    • Organize and classify APIs for easy discovery
    • Common terminology e.g. API vs Microservices vs Services
    • Documentation

This could be a starting set of guidelines for your initial APIs and can be expanded over time.  The primary goal of these guidelines should be the continued success with APIs without being too overbearing on the innovation aspect of API adoption for business growth.

In summary, while API adoption does not require starting with defining API Center of Excellence, a successful API strategy would require some level of governance for API quality and management.

You can find a couple of real-world experiences on API Center of Excellence in this blog written by our colleague Alan Glickenhouse.

Join us at our session on this topic at IBM Think or connect with us through your comments here to continue the discussion.

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