API Abstraction is key to an API first strategy

API abstraction provides a unique solution for large enterprises looking to scale their API efforts as part of an API first digital strategy. In this post we look at what abstraction is, why it’s needed, and the 6 key benefits of using abstracted APIs as your system of record and main API objects, rather than code.

Large enterprises have a gap in their API efforts: holding APIs as code is the cause

  • Open up your APIs to a wider audience — to be discovered and consumed by internal (e.g LoBs, product owners) and external (e.g. partners in your API ecosystem) stakeholders
  • Manage, organize and group together thousands of APIs which encapsulate your business capabilities and IT functions, not just 10–100 open APIs
  • Manage different types of APIs and versions for different technologies/runtime environments (e.g. business capability, internal IT, public/partner/3rd party APIs, but also REST, SOAP, events, emerging technologies)
  • Store artifacts which are related to those APIs; such as lineage, mappings, conformance to data models, and security policies (and other common shared services)

What’s more, you likely want all of the above in a single unified view, understandable by both business and IT. But, relying on the implementation code for your APIs makes this near impossible — that’s because API code is hard to interrogate and understand beyond a handful of skilled developers, and it’s likely held in disparate systems across the enterprise’s architecture.

Abstracting your APIs provides an unique solution and can be used to deliver all of the needs above, in supporting API first at scale.

What is API abstraction?

When working with abstraction, two objects are involved to ensure your APIs are usable by both business and technical users:

  1. A pure abstracted view of the API: This is what we call a Design. A code- and implementation-agnostic view which contains abstracted capabilities of what the API does/will do once realized. Designs are a representation of your business capabilities and technical functions.
  2. A semi-abstracted service representation of the Design: This is what we call a Specification. A technical view of your API which contains implementation-specific technical details e.g. methods with a de-coded payload structure and non-functional requirements. These are versioned, and importantly contain enough detail to be used to generate runtime artifacts off-of (API code, contract, configuration, and documentation), enabling you to get back to the code to actually run the APIs.

Benefits of using API abstraction for a successful API strategy

1. An extended audience for your APIs

  • Business users such as product owners
  • Other technical users
  • Partners

Users of your abstracted APIs can easily learn:

  • What APIs your organization already has
  • How the APIs work
  • Who owns the APIs
  • What the upcoming API versions are

2. APIs can be reused to support new digital products

3. Normalized, consistent and well-governed API code and documentation

Alternatively, if only API documentation is needed, this can be generated in easy-to-read formats like word or excel.

Abstraction also allows your APIs to easily be aligned to an API governance model upstream in the API lifecycle.

To read the full story, check it out here.

About the Author

Gemma Sindall
Gemma is a Marketing Manager at digitalML. She has a keen interest in digital strategy and the best ways to merge people, process and technology. Her experience spans Marketing and Client Services in the Technology and Financial Services industries.

Originally published at https://www.digitalml.com on January 7, 2021.

Large enterprises use our ignite Platform for digital recombination, APIs & Services at scale, Rapid IT Modernization, and Business & IT alignment

Large enterprises use our ignite Platform for digital recombination, APIs & Services at scale, Rapid IT Modernization, and Business & IT alignment