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We all experience a constantly increasing number and impact of various applications and IT solutions aimed at solving our everyday problems and making our lives easier. Usually, from a user point of view, our interaction with these apps ends as soon as we click a button and complete a task or obtain information we were interested in, and we are not aware of what actually happened behind the scenes at the time.
But it’s worth realizing that the solutions we use are typically only a piece of a larger puzzle of various IT systems integrated with each other. These integrations can be made through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), thus they can be considered as fuel that drives innovations. However, fuel is only part of the success, so you also should use the right vehicle which in the solution described in the first article of this blog series is the API Management (APIM) capability of SAP Integration Suite on which I will shed some more light in this text.
API Management – overview
In the context of dynamically increasing number of interfaces, APIM plays the role of a central point which allows you to keep everything under control. Thanks to such functionalities like creation, maintenance and monitoring of APIs you should be able to ensure business continuity of your services and ultimately monetize solutions exposed to your partners. What’s important – all of this can be done via configuration instead of coding, which simplifies and speeds up the process from API creation to its publication to the outside world.
SAP API Management provides secure and scalable access to different assets, which in general may be divided into two parts:
- implementation and configuration done in the API Portal,
- exposure and consumption operated in the Developer Portal.
Based on this, we can say that APIM aggregates two basic perspectives – on the one hand we have a platform where admins can create and manage their APIs, and on the other a place that enables developers, customers and partners to consume and use them.
Usage in a practical scenario
To demonstrate the usage of API Management in real life, let’s take a closer look at the scenario presented in the blog mentioned at the beginning of this article, where the general concept of the solution is described. In this example, APIM plays the role of an intermediary that exposes the whole solution implemented using the SAP BTP technologies to the outside world.
From a technical point of view, the API exposed via API Management is connected to the SAP Cloud Application Programming (CAP) model app and thus HANA cloud database, which makes the data available to anyone who wants to use our API.
Figure 1. Architecture overview of API Management
Being more precise, the connection to the SAP CAP app is configured in the API Provider that is then used inside API Proxy, which is an object that can be considered as the “heart” of APIM as it contains the logic and most of the API settings. And due to the fact that in today’s digital world security should always be a priority, some additional policies have been applied to the exposed services, namely the unique key for executing the API, which limits the access to the resources in a simple and effective way. But please bear in mind that there are many more possible safety rules that can be implemented, both at the level of API request and data received in the API response.
The next important object is the Product, which is the unit of API exposure in the Developer Portal, so that it can be visible to the outside world. And this is a point where you can actually make money out of the API based on different business models, e.g. based on a fixed monthly fee for API subscription or a rate depending on the number of API calls. But regardless of the rate plan you choose, please note that API Management provides a built-in engine that generates billing.
Last but not least, we should not forget about the monitoring features available in APIM, which allows supervising the entire solution and its use by the partners and customers. In our scenario it means that, among others, we can get info on the number of sales orders created or deleted via exposed APIs, as well as keep an eye on many other helpful statistics.
Application Programming Interfaces play a key role in modern business as they allow simple and scalable exposure of IT solutions and the use of SAP API Management can boost it to a higher level. I’m aware that in this article its capabilities have been captured from a helicopter view, but we’d be more than happy to come down from this perspective and see how our solution can help your business as well!