George Mironescu (Senior Research Manager, Accelerated Application Delivery & European Cloud Platforms)
George Mironescu (Associate Research Director, App Development and Delivery, Europe)

These days, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to come up with opinion pieces and analysis that do not discuss coronavirus. COVID-19 has had such an impact on the global economy and the effects are likely to cut deep and long on global GDP. It’s very clear we’re in a health and economic crisis.

This blog looks at APIs, as the API management domain emerged — before the COVID-19 crisis — as a top priority for organizations in Europe as they accelerate their application delivery capabilities.

What Are the Triggers for API Adoption and API Management?

There’s a host of reasons why people go into APIs and API management, but we have observed three main rationales that guide investment, two with a strong business component and one that is more technical in its motives.

Pressure to Diversify Business Models and Improve Business Metrics

Companies in Europe are under pressure to adapt to digital sales models and digital engagement models in their customer and front-end strategies. Diversifying revenue generation with additional currency streams is top of mind for European organizations and is the prime driver for investment in API programs. Beyond new sources of revenue and new prospective markets, organizations invest in APIs to drive operational improvements, including enhanced integration between disparate business operations, accelerated speed of business execution, and improved ability to innovate at both the product and business model level.

Business Integration

For many organizations in Europe, APIs are a key vehicle to support business integration, be that integration of disparate business units, functions, or geographies. Integration of enterprise applications remains a considerable challenge that enterprises, particularly large ones, have been grappling with. Facilitating a gradual modernization of aging app estates via APIs is an important step in the application transformation strategy of many organizations.

Transition to Microservices-Based App Architectures

Application modernization programs, from monolithic applications to microservices, are another important trigger for API management. One in three organizations in Europe sees “transition to microservices” programs as key in driving API adoption.

Key Trends Shaping the Future Format of API Management in Europe

Looking at the main pain points that organizations in Europe face in their API environments, we see organizations struggling with a range of problems. These include having to juggle between multiple components in home-grown API management environments, to consistency in deployment and control, to challenges that relate to run analytics to observe and mine the API estate.

Security governance, design and definition of APIs, monitoring, and developer self-service via portals are areas that organizations in Europe plan to invest in to build or deepen their API management environments.

In terms of key domains that are likely to impact the development road map for API management, we observe a couple of important trends for the short to medium term.

Service Meshes

With the transition to microservices, organizations are looking at service meshes to observe, control, and secure operations at industrial scale. Because API management serves in handling microservices too, companies are often puzzled about which environment to use for which use case and where to invest to best serve their needs. Building the business case for either service meshes or API management is tough, and companies need to figure out where the two overlap, where they complement each other, what value each brings. Moving forward, we can see the two domains coming closer to each other.

API Monetization and API Marketplaces

Monetization is a challenge as many in Europe are trying to figure out commercial models and ecosystem/network engagement strategies to monetize, disseminate, and promote APIs and data assets. While various API management and/or enterprise application vendors run marketplaces and API catalogs, the challenges that organizations face in terms of monetization have not yet been well addressed.

Event-Driven APIs

With the higher profile of event-driven application delivery models, the API management domain is likely to incorporate product development elements observed in event-driven computing. This is particularly appealing in real-time scenarios that pertain to customer engagement, but also in more automated and intelligent business processing scenarios such as real-time logistics or manufacturing.

ML-Assisted API Observability

ML-supported IT operations are gradually becoming a major theme impacting most application management and application operation areas, and that includes the API space. Ensuring the right level of performance for APIs remains a problem, and API monitoring and performance is still not a commodity area in API management. ML-assisted API monitoring, security, and control operations will inevitably shape the API management arena.

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