The Top 3 API Management Trends in 2022
February 01, 2022

Darshan Shivashankar

The number of Application Programming Interfaces (API)-related security incidents is rising rapidly. Take Peloton's API for user account data allowing unauthenticated requests or the latest Experian credit score API breach impacting tens of millions of users. A more systemic approach is needed to ensure we won't be hearing about another API exposing our data tomorrow. But according to Gartner, API security risk is going to get worse in 2022.

Therefore, industries are adopting API management tools faster than ever to simplify business processes, particularly healthcare, retail, and financial services. These sectors have reached a tipping point regarding the number of APIs they must monitor for customer satisfaction.

Although APIs are the backbone of our digital economy, their growth means more API sprawl — a distributed infrastructure of APIs with a lack of observability and traceability leading to vulnerabilities, breaches, and attacks. It is time to start thinking about what drives the sprawl and control it.

Furthermore, Google Cloud's DevOps Research and Assessment team (DORA) reports that there will be a significant shift in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) space towards API management after the pandemic and rapid digital transformation.

So, what will the API landscape be like in the near future?

A Deeper Desire to Avoid API Sprawl

Enterprises have been looking at where APIs can have a return on investment (ROI), impact the customer experience positively, or help them work with external partners to accelerate business goals. However, the issue is that businesses have never focused on the longevity of an API until now.

Building API infrastructure quickly can help launch a mobile app in record time, get a website built from scratch in two months, or have a service up and running in time for Black Friday to partner with Uber, Walmart, or another retailer.

The motivation to build APIs fast has always been more significant than the motivation to consider the operation and management of these APIs over an extended time. And the more integrations and partnerships a company has, the more customization APIs need, leading to 40+ variants with absolutely no reusability or maintainability.

Therefore, in 2022, we are bound to see more businesses wanting to take control of API sprawl. That's why internal APIs (alongside external or partner-facing APIs) have skyrocketed; they are reusable so that every group within an organization can leverage and build on top of them rather than creating a monolith service.

2022 will be the year businesses realize that they should build their tech ecosystems in a modular way and create reusable APIs — especially since this was the pure genesis of creating APIs to begin with.

The Growing Popularity of Zero Trust Models and Shared-Ownership

Hybrid work has taken over, and people are working from home, offices, and cafes while using their own devices to connect to multiple networks. Zero Trust models have become a critical strategic initiative to prevent data breaches when the concept of firewalls or trusted zones is impossible to uphold. They eliminate trust from an organization's architecture and impose the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) — where users are only given the levels of permission specifically needed to perform their job functions.

Here, collaborative governance is essential to allow developers and security professionals to communicate and merge security operations and API tools for quick organizational decisions and to fix bugs or vulnerabilities. But how do you build collaborative governance around this structure?

That's where a shared-ownership model of security comes in, otherwise known as DevSecOps. It is a security framework that dictates the security obligations of users and ensures their accountability. The central team can build the fundamental blocks and best practices and decentralize the enforcement to all the employees downstream. It becomes everyone's responsibility to operate the software and take complete ownership over their decisions.

A shared-ownership model ultimately gives an organization the authority to judge situations autonomously, making more practical sense than waiting for a centralized team. The overarching goal is that security should not be seen as a separate function; developers, monitors, and operations must all share accountability.

API Automation Gaining Momentum

Traditionally, the people who have built and monitored APIs have always been a team with specialized skill sets. Therefore, businesses depended on both their skills and team size. Now, organizations are looking for hyper-automated tools and technologies to empower professionals from the IT industry to work with APIs directly.

It will no longer be a core requirement in some organizations to hire personnel who understand the technical nuances of monitoring, managing, and running APIs. Organizations that want better productivity and improved operational efficiency will have to choose: Can they get better value from upskilling their current developers or introducing simple tools for other employees to manage?

According to Gartner, the future API technologies may be built by those removed from the IT industry quicker and faster using automation instead of needing pure coding skills. Personally, adding more developers to a team fuels the fire, while automation would make organizations' employees more productive by avoiding mundane tasks.

The future of APIs in 2022 is looking bright. But as the number of APIs increase, so do the vulnerabilities and sprawl. Therefore, API management tools and automation are ever more needed to hold organizations and their employees accountable, boost productivity, and bridge security and development to reduce breaches.

Darshan Shivashankar is CEO of Apiwiz
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