API management definition

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Enterprise architect's guide to API best practices and trends
Contributor(s): Delaney Rebernik

API management is the process of publishing, promoting and overseeing application programming interfaces (APIs) in a secure, scalable environment.  It also includes the creation of end user support resources that define and document the API.

The goal of API management is to allow an organization that publishes an API to monitor the interface’s lifecycle and make sure the needs of developers and applications using the API are being met. 

API management software can be built in-house or purchased as a service through a third-party provider like Mashery Inc., Apigee Corp. or SOA Software Inc. API management software tools typically provide the following functions:

  1. Automate and control connections between an API and the applications that use it.
  2. Ensure consistency between multiple API implementations and versions.
  3. Monitor traffic from individual apps. 
  4. Provide memory management and caching mechanisms to improve application performance.
  5. Protect the API from misuse by wrapping it in security procedures and policies.

A growing open API movement, spearheaded by big name companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter, has led to reduced API dependency upon conventional service-oriented architecture (SOA) in favor of more lightweight JSON and REST services.  Some API management tools are capable of converting existing SOAP, JMS or MQ interfaces into RESTful APIs or JSON content. 


This was first published in September 2014

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