API programs are about more than technology choices. At the same time, the disruption that is being created in every industry by new software-driven solutions makes technology an imperative. It’s critically important to support your digital strategy with the right technology choices. That’s why the third pillar of MuleSoft’s API strategy blueprint is “evaluate & build supporting technology.” It covers new technologies that can further your digital strategy and engage your API ecosystem, along with guidelines for proper standardization and a review of the counterbalancing controls you need to ensure security, availability, and performance.
Companies who are at the beginning of their journey to adopt the cloud need to understand the capabilities offered by cloud-native technologies and how they can support and accelerate their transformation into digital businesses. One pitfall is that it is easy to become enamored of new technologies like containers, serverless, or blockchain, and to get distracted from your digital transformation goals. Any technology you adopt should offer capabilities to reach these goals. Make sure you figure out which capabilities are relevant before you implement a new technology.
An important factor to consider is whether your organization has the skills required to get the most out of a new technology. If not, you will need an upfront plan for acquiring those skills or you will run the risk of creating difficult-to-manage dependencies down the road.
There are API-specific technologies that you will need to be familiar with such as gateways, portals, and design tools. But more than the technologies themselves, it is important to understand the system dynamics that emerge once you have a landscape of APIs and a digital platform. The whole of your API-based architecture will be greater than the sum of its parts, and it will be worthwhile to become familiar with systems thinking. Observability and measurement will be essential. In addition, you will want to make sure that your landscape of APIs maps back to the goals of your overall API program and not just to the business model for individual APIs.
New technologies require standards but it’s best to standardize selectively. As noted by Donald Sull, author of Rival of the Fittest: Why Good Companies Go Bad and How Great Managers Remake Them, an organization’s tendency to follow established patterns of behavior can lead to active inertia, which is the enemy of agility. Too much standardization can undermine your API program and your digital transformation. Likewise, not enforcing the few standards you adopt can lead to conflict and rework.
For every new technological capability you implement to support digital business, you also have to think about counterbalancing controls. Digital business is about increasing customer touch points and creating channels for new experiences. But this means you are also building more complex distributed systems and opening yourself up to more attack vectors.
Maintaining stability in operations will be an ongoing concern as your business interacts 24/7 with customers who take high levels of performance for granted. Similarly, security must permeate your API landscape. You will need to provide good access controls and to protect the privacy of information.
MuleSoft offers API Program Workshops to help organizations evaluate and build supporting technology for their API programs. Learn more about MuleSoft’s API Program Workshops.