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Technological advancement has continued to transform the internet and how businesses utilize the internet. REST-based APIs have taken the place of SOAP Web services. REST APIs operate on HTTP that are lighter and easier to understand. That’s probably the reason why it has become a preferred method for developing enterprise APIs.
It’s important to understand that enterprise APIs can either be internal or external. They are Internal in the sense that they are across or within the Line of Business (LOB). When an API is external it means that it is designed for partners and third-party developers.
In the recent past, businesses have learned a lot from web-scale consumer APIs. They have realized that creating an ecosystem of applications within an API requires more than just developing an API and expecting consumers to use it. This is regardless of whether it is internal or external APIs.
API management is the process of documenting, publishing, consuming, sharing, controlling, and monitoring the consumption of APIs. This is often done in a manner that ensures easy publishing and onboarding of people (developers) using the API.
Most enterprises sometimes fail to understand the difference between internal and external APIs whenever they are in the process of creating or developing them. As an enterprise, you need to understand the difference between internal and external APIs in order to effectively manage them.
However, most enterprises use more internal APIs compared to external ones. Management of both internal and external APIs is important as long as they are underuse.
Why is the management of API important?
- It offers an easy way of managing the lifecycle of APIs
- It helps in the monitoring of real-time access as well as the usage trends of API – informing actions to be taken by the business
- API management also provides secured access that enables the protection of sensitive data being exposed.
- API management enables differentiated access and at the same time giving access to the APIs to other stakeholders.
One of the most important things that you should consider in both your interface architecture and API business strategy is the difference between internal and external API. An interface can be described as internal and external depending on whether its target is for in-house or external developers.
Internal APIs are used by several companies to help them become more efficient in different aspects such as product development, HR and customer service. For instance, USA Today and the Guardian both have internal APIs that have largely helped to speed up their APP development processes.
An internal API is an interface that enables access to a company’s backend information and application functionality for use by the organization’s developers. The new applications created by these developers can then be distributed publicly although the interface itself is not visible to anyone not working directly with the API publisher.
Internal APIs can to a greater extent reduce the time of creating applications as well as the resources required for internal IT systems integration. Instead of creating applications from scratch, developers can use a uniform pool of internal software assets.
An external or open API is an API designed for access by a larger population as well as web developers. This implies that an external API can be easily used by developers inside the organization (that published the API) and any other developer from the outside who desires to register into the interface.
An external API publisher in most cases is trying to take advantage of the growing community of free agent developers. For the organization or business, an external API is an opportunity to leverage a wide range of innovative developers. These freelance developers often bring value to the company without necessarily investing in their development efforts.
In general, platforms that offer the same approach when it comes to rolling out both internal and external APIs are best placed in facilitating enterprises that wish to build an ecosystem within their API systems. The good thing is that most platforms have designer features that enable publishing, sharing, and consumption of APIs.
Last but not least, it’s always important to know the difference between internal and external APIs. This is because understanding the difference helps in effective API management. Most enterprises that do not have APIs are better off starting with internal APIs before rolling out to external consumption.
Bring software to market more rapidly with a dedicated API marketplace:
- White-labeled internal marketplace
- Break development silos
- Govern API consumption