Choosing the right API development platform is key for successful IoT rollout

With API development gaining steam in an IoT led world, the significance of API development environment platforms has grown immensely. Explore the criteria to select the right platform that meets your business needs.

Abhinav Asthana May 24th 2019 A-A+
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With advancements in technology, enterprises have started relying heavily on information gathered from non-human sources such as car dashboard telematics, wearable gadgets, signalling systems, and so on. 

One important technology enabling communication between devices and enterprise systems has been the internet of things (IoT).

With applications of IoT on the rise by the day, the market for IoT technology has also been on the rise, correspondingly. The global IoT market is expected to reach USD 6.5 trillion in 2024, growing at 26.6 per cent year on year from 2018 to 2024, according to a report published by Energias Market Research.

As the adoption of IoT becomes widespread, it has created the need for application programming interface (API) technology. 

In the IoT world, devices connected to the internet communicate with one another through APIs. The APIs help connect the enterprise systems at the backend to IoT devices and vice versa. They also securely expose IoT data to internal as well as external consumers of that data.

Given this backdrop, the growth in adoption of IoT will lead to an equally strong growth of API development activity. The API management lifecycle is ridden with a range of challenges at every phase including planning and design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. 

“Many organizations looking to roll out IoT projects have started exploring the use of API development environment platforms to streamline their API development and management processes.”

The complexities that API developers (and testers) have to navigate through range from the inconsistency of standards, backend integration issues, compliance, poor or no documentation, especially in legacy setups, and backward compatibility besides the security aspects.

Considering such complexities involved, many organizations looking to roll out IoT projects have started exploring the use of API development environment platforms to streamline their API development and management processes.

As with any popular technology, there are multiple vendor options available in the market today. However, from an organization's perspective, the API development platform it selects must constitute a few essential provisions to spell success to its enterprise IoT rollout(s).

Let's explore some of these features that may not be ignored.

●    Ready services: The API development environment platform you select should pack a range of readily executable services. Starting with API documentation, the platform should come with services such as API monitoring, mock server, debugging, automated testing, and publishing. 

Also look for features whether the platform you evaluate allows you to get organised. For instance, can your developers easily document each step with descriptions, tests, and more?

Does your proposed platform help organise these requests into folders; can requests be sent individually as well as at once? Considering that an IoT project will open up gates to the influx of requests in huge quantities, readiness will be of immense value.

●    Collaboration: As you explore the options available today, you will notice that while many platforms try to streamline the development phases, they leave collaboration unattended. 

Examine if the API development environment platform you evaluate provides collaboration out of the box. One reliable approach can be the creation of permission workspaces that combine members, (shareable) elements such as mocks, environments, documentation, etc. This way, the workspaces can facilitate collaboration amongst developers as well as business teams. 

... The growth in adoption of IoT will lead to an equally strong growth of API development activity. The API management lifecycle is ridden with a range of challenges at every phase including planning and design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance.
Abhinav Asthana
CEO & Co-founder, Postman

The permissioned nature of the workspaces—wherein members can define who may access/edit the elements—ensures no security vulnerability is left in the system. The workspace approach provides immense flexibility as multiple workspaces can be created—for instance, for specific projects or combining different teams.

●    Security: Security is an important element of any API development project. Verify whether the API development environment platform you intend to select incorporates all the essential security provisions. For example, does the platform provide for single sign-on or audit logs as built-in features?

In addition, check whether the platform vendor follows strict security policies and standards covering aspects such as infrastructure security, account security (e.g. with technologies such as SSL, AES encryption, and JSON web tokens), application security, employee access controls, attack prevention and mitigation, data security, and so on.

The final tally

Enterprises often face a dilemma when evaluating multiple top vendors. Nearly all options in the final list have a good brand recall and nearly all assure best-in-class support. 

How does a company then select only one in such a highly competitive marketplace? Besides checking the platform vendor’s experience in powering the IoT projects at various organizations, a company may look at the flexibility incorporated in the commercial models as well.

Check whether the vendor you evaluate offers scalability in procurement. For instance, assess whether the vendor allows you to start with a basic version (perhaps with a few limitations) and gradually move to purchase of a complete pack, thus, enabling a systematic scale-up.

This way, the organization can avoid irreparable damages caused by a hasty procurement decision and minimise the potential risks of time loss, financial losses, and the unwanted, last-minute surprises.

Abhinav Asthana is CEO & Co-founder, Postman

Disclaimer: This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributing authors and not of IDG Media and its editor(s).