The following figure depicts the IBM reference architecture for API Management. The reference architecture encompasses the entire API economy, including API consumers, API marketplaces to find APIs, and API providers.

Reference Architecture

The reference architecture figure shows the following information:

  • Channels

    These are technical platforms that can serve as a route to market and consumption for your APIs, such as smartphones, tablets, desktop computers or laptops, televisions, and appliances with smart applications.

  • Capabilities for API ConsumersThese are fundamental enablement capabilities for managing the consumption of APIs that are exposed to multiple consumers.
    • Composition: This refers to how to build a call to an API.
    • Platform and Infrastructure Services: These are services that are provided to developers that are developing applications which will consume APIs. They can include functions such as monitoring, analytics, and storage.
    • Dev/Ops and Application Management for APIs: Development and operations (Dev/Ops) refers a practice of end-to-end change management for applications and APIs that focuses on continuous delivery methods. The practice includes identifying early requirements and factoring them into the development process with operational requirements in mind.
    • Mobile/Client Accelerators: This involves software developer kits (SDKs) for making mobile or operating system specific applications that can consume APIs featured on this site.
  • MarketplacesThese are the ecosystems for APIs, including business support systems, social computing capabilities (feedback, advertising, and so forth), self-service enablement capabilities (such as registration, entitlement, provisioning), and the associated business support services required. Marketplaces provide for the marketing, access, support and socializing of APIs, including communities that can provide support help, abilities to rate APIs, and many other capabilities that provide for fast and easy consumption of APIs.
  • Capabilities for API Providers

    These are fundamental enablement capabilities for managing APIs that are exposed to multiple consumers. The capabilities include security and management, analytics, and monitoring, API design and integration, and development/operations for APIs.

  • Services

    The bottom of the reference architecture diagram, shows the underlying business and IT services. These can be data services, serving information from databases, or  application services that perform some level of processing. These services reside in some level of infrastructure, which can be cloud-based, or on-premises services. The services can be built using an SOA type of service integration architecture and can themselves be SOA services.

  • API Strategy Consulting

    This includes business positioning, business strategy, marketing, productizing APIs and processes that drive the success of an API strategy (such as community support and social networking). 

  • API Technical Consulting

    Consulting services can be provided by business partners and third parties on the technical enablement of APIs. Examples include security (OAuth), scaling (topology and failover strategies), and aggregation of business analytics.

To learn more please read the Redbook here.

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