How an API-First Strategy Can Fuel Growth and Better Developer Experiences

BrandPostBy Valentina Alaria, Senior Director, Product, Tanzu Application Platform
Jun 17, 2022
Devops Software Development

There has never been a better time to optimize investment in APIs. Boost productivity today by embracing a robust API-centric philosophy.

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As customers move towards modern application architectures, they are quickly realizing that application programming interfaces (APIs) are the backbone of enterprise data integrations and the foundation of the development lifecycle.

On the surface, APIs are a highly technical aspect of a business’s underlying IT infrastructure. But they are proving to be key in helping accelerate time to value for the business by improving the developer experience. When organizations build a software development culture that optimizes the developer experience, teams are able to spend less time on internal processes and more time on building something meaningful to their customers.

APIs, specifically internal APIs, are rapidly evolving as the de-facto contract between development teams building microservices architectures. Yet, they are decoupled today from the modern software lifecycle and governed mostly by operational teams.

Internal APIs empower IT ops and DevOps teams to collaborate, discover and reuse existing IT assets that can help them build new apps or create and modify processes – all without having to add or build net-new solutions that can add to technical debt or tool sprawl. For organizations shaping their developers’ experiences, they must consider how they approach and manage internal APIs.

Successful API-First Strategy

Developers are spending more time with APIs than ever before. In fact, Postman’s State of the API Report 2021 found that 49% of respondents said that more than half of the organization’s development effort is spent on APIs — compared to just over 40% last year. That’s why it’s more important than ever to establish an internal API strategy that helps teams operate more efficiently and meets business needs quickly.

API-first is a model of software development in which applications are conceptualized and built as an interconnection of internal and external services through APIs. Application developers don’t want to be held back when integrating new APIs, so having a self-service discovery and authorization model is imperative. Most developers know it’s important to build secure software, but don’t always know what best practices to follow or tools to use. At the end of the day, they want to ship software quickly and easily.

An API-first strategy can help provide more implicit connectivity and collaboration. In addition, enacting this strategy enables developers with “self-service” access to technology assets that help them to build and deploy code faster, and deliver innovative end user experiences.

Securing Modern Applications and APIs

For engineering leaders with teams that write and maintain APIs, it can be difficult to know how to prioritize API features, encourage adoption, and respond to feedback from developers. APIs are the central nervous system of modern applications, carrying critical information and data from one part of the application to another or from one application to another. As a result, when organizations think about application security, that cannot happen without first securing the APIs that connect them.

APIs were written by developers for developers and security was never top of mind in their creation. As a result, APIs have inherent vulnerabilities and risks built within them, and those vulnerabilities and risks need to be detected and mitigated. With tools such as VMware Tanzu Service Mesh, teams can improve risk detection through behavioral security and observability capabilities across multi-cloud environments

Server quality itself is another issue for organizations using APIs. When developers build an application, they want to ensure the best quality for their end users and the same applies to the API. Organizations should expose APIs thoroughly first before building out an application and ensure adequate testing.

How APIs Can Better the Developer Experience

APIs are fundamental to the developer experience, as they facilitate collaboration and reusability. As businesses increasingly perceive developer experience as critical to the health of their organization and a driving force for success, improving developer experience is top of mind. A better developer experience means better DevOps productivity, retention and happiness which translates into immediate business value.

Today’s API market is highly fragmented, as there are a lot of API-specific solutions and applications that tackle application lifecycle and development. This results in teams combining together a bunch of different tools, rather than relying on a comprehensive solution that spans the entire spectrum of API.

In order to achieve a great API-first approach, organizations should holistically look at their own technology and tools used to write and manage APIs. Organizations can foster better developer productivity and reusability by bringing APIs and application development closer together where APIs are used as the building blocks for developers.

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