Join or Die: The Case for Unifying the API Lifecycle to Transform Digital Experiences

By Kieran Taylor

Join or Die, and its Relevance Today

In 1754, a political cartoon attributed to none other than Benjamin Franklin appeared. The cartoon depicted a severed snake, with each piece labeled to represent one of the American colonies. Beneath the picture were these words: “Join, or Die.” 

The cartoon made a direct, easily understood appeal to readers: The only way the colonies could survive would be through uniting, and working together to pursue shared objectives and defeat a common enemy. Why the history lesson? It struck me recently that dev, sec and ops teams tasked with managing APIs aren’t all that different from our American colonists.

On today’s competitive battleground, an organization’s success is increasingly determined by its digital prowess. Digitally advanced companies and new technologies are disrupting competitors and inventing new markets. That’s why adoption of clouds, containers, service mesh and other modern architectures are so pervasive. For these efforts to truly pay off, however, teams that once worked in isolation now need to collaborate and operate in a unified way. And the stakes for this effort are high: If teams keep operating independently, the business’ very survival could be at stake.

Unifying the API Lifecycle  

When it comes to unifying previously disparate teams, APIs represent a strategic asset. By uniting data and logic from many distributed systems, APIs play an integral role in the modern application development architecture.

Just like software, APIs have a lifecycle, which must now be managed in an optimal, intelligent, and unified fashion. This is a key requirement in order to fundamentally advance development, agility and insight so teams can thrive amidst disruption, and deliver the optimized digital experiences customers and employees require.

Now more than ever, it’s vital to effectively manage the entire API lifecycle, including planning, creation, testing, security, management, discovery, development, and observation. Each of these efforts has a critical role to play in the digital experience that users ultimately receive. However, the power of APIs won’t truly pay off if these efforts are handled in an isolated fashion. Following a few key areas where teams can realize the biggest benefits by establishing a solution that enables a truly unified API lifecycle approach.

Testing

With leading solutions, teams can effectively capture clear requirements and model for optimal API test designs. As soon as API code is written, developers should be able to test it. Solutions should also enable developers to test on their local machines, and then seamlessly push code into enterprise-grade testing tools.

To foster optimal collaboration, teams should be able to share test assets across the business. This helps maximize test coverage while reducing waste throughout the lifecycle.

Finally, teams need to continue validating APIs in production, employing the same scripts that were used to do API testing in development, in order to monitor API calls in real-world conditions. With these advanced and integrated capabilities, teams can establish a continuous feedback loop that feeds insights back into the development process.

Security

Today’s teams need robust, easy-to-implement security controls. Solutions should provide pre-built policies that can be leveraged immediately and adapted efficiently. Developers should be able to use native SDKs and pre-built backend services to create rich, secure experiences, without having to write thousands of lines of complex security code. 

With advanced solutions, teams can get visibility and fine-grained control over who has access to APIs at run time, based on details about the end user, device, application, context, and transaction. Plus, teams can leverage rich threat protection capabilities and advanced threat analytics. Solutions should feature advanced capabilities, including frictionless biometric login, step-up authentication, single sign-on to multiple applications, and secure session transfer between devices.

Observation

To be more productive and deliver more value, today’s DevSecOps teams need intelligence and automation. Teams need to get insights into real-world usage of APIs and applications, and observe activities across the entire API lifecycle. With this comprehensive visibility and traceability, teams can quickly determine the root cause of an issue, proactively deliver code changes where needed, and mitigate quality concerns well before end users are affected.

Solutions should help teams learn continuously, so they can keep improving the quality of their APIs. It is important that solutions help constantly sift through massive volumes of operational and testing data to deliver actionable insights. With these capabilities, teams can spot potential problems, including gaps in test plans and security threats. In addition, they can uncover new opportunities and user requirements. By aggregating test metrics from development and production, teams can establish effective baselines and more efficient troubleshooting. With these capabilities, teams can streamline their releases while boosting the resiliency of their APIs.

Conclusion

While the phrase “Join, or Die” was penned hundreds of years ago and for a very different purpose, the concept carries an important message for today’s DevSecOps teams. In today’s competitive digital battlefield, the market victors will be the ones that can streamline innovation and deliver consistently optimized digital experiences. Teams simply can’t meet these objectives if they’re operating in an isolated, fragmented way. By leveraging advanced API lifecycle management solutions, teams can harness an invaluable asset in boosting collaboration and accelerating innovation to transform digital experiences.

About the Author:

Kieran Taylor has 20 years of high-tech product marketing experience with a focus on application performance management, cloud computing, content delivery networking and wide area network technologies. He is presently Head of Product Marketing for Broadcom’s AIOps segment and is responsible for thought leadership and sales enablement for AIOps, Operational Intelligence, APM and Infrastructure Management. Prior he led product marketing teams at Adobe, Akamai, DataPower/IBM and Nortel Networks. His career began as an editor of high-tech publications at Mc-Graw Hill.