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News & Views

Companies struggle to manage APIs

Recent research from WSO2 ( reveals that despite API underpinning the success of digital transformations, 74% of respondents do not have a fully rolled-out API strategy, and 76% believe that developers at their organization could be more productive if they didn’t have to spend so much time dealing with IAM/CIAM related issues.

Of those surveyed, 88% concede that the technology they currently use to build, manage, and integrate APIs needs to be better – requiring anywhere from a moderate or major improvement to a complete overhaul.  The two most common challenges cited with current API platforms are difficulty re-using existing or legacy APIs for new projects and services (53%) and managing the full lifecycle of APIs (52%).

The survey also found that most organizations require a mix of deployment options.  Only 10% of respondents currently opt for on-premises wherever possible, while 3% said that their IT infrastructure is in the cloud wherever possible.  Looking ahead to the next three years, only 5% expect to be on-premises wherever possible, while 15% say cloud wherever possible.
“For the majority of companies we surveyed, both now and in the future, hybrid environments are expected to be the norm.  Therefore, flexibility is critical for any new platforms to deliver the deployment choices that customers want to make,” said Ricardo Diniz, Vice President and General Manager for UK&I and Southern Europe, WSO2.  “Likewise, from an API perspective, organizations need to take a step back and revisit how they manage and use APIs in order to realize the full benefits they can deliver.”

To achieve success, digital transformation involves three critical components: an API-first approach, effective and API-led integration of systems and applications, and comprehensive identity and access management for users.  Organizations also require a flexible platform that enables each of these capabilities to perform well either in isolation or together, and this is where the survey found organizations are currently falling short.
Even as hybrid deployments continue to dominate, the study points to a growing adoption of software as a service (SaaS) and other cloud-based solutions with a five-fold increase in planned cloud-only deployments.  SaaS offerings address both the current economic challenges and the continued shortage of skilled developers.  They enable enterprises to free often-understaffed development teams from managing the underlying infrastructure to focus on innovating new digital services and applications that deliver business value.
“More than half of the respondents surveyed said that digital transformation initiatives are driving demand for APIs.  But innovation can only be achieved if engrained challenges stemming from underperforming technology platforms are rectified,” continues Diniz.  “This is where a digital platform as a service and other SaaS offerings come into play. They enable development and operations teams to deliver new integrations, services, and APIs in hours or days, not weeks or months.”
The research found that many organizations need to repurpose identity and access management (IAM) platforms for CIAM purposes to deliver a more personalized experience, with 80% of respondents saying they are using or planning to use a single platform for employees, partners and suppliers as well as their customers, however 95% of those surveyed indicate that they are experiencing challenges with CIAM during the repurposing stage.
Interestingly, 85% of respondents believe their IAM platform needs either a complete overhaul or major or moderate improvement, with 80% saying the same about their CIAM platform, and 74% agreeing that when IAM/CIAM platforms do not work as they should, customer, partner and supplier relationships are negatively impacted.
“Organizations are struggling with their current platforms predominantly because they are being repurposed for CIAM, which is not what they were built for,” says Diniz.  “Companies will realize much greater business benefits if they use either a true CIAM platform or at a minimum one that takes a CIAM-first approach.”

Taking an open-source approach can deliver real value to the business, with 87% of respondents agreeing that the ability to use an open-source platform for building, managing, and integrating APIs would significantly benefit developers and architects within their organization.  Not only do open-source software and pre-templated libraries save time; they also free up precious internal resources who can focus their energies on innovating and improving the end user experience.
Undertaken by independent specialist in market research, Vanson Bourne, the WSO2 study questioned 400 decision makers from IT departments across all industry sectors.
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