May 23rd, 2012

Public APIs, Private APIs

Publish-a-Private-API-VideoWhen talking about API management, the first thing that comes to mind is a public API, one that is open for anybody to consume, provided a certain level of registration. Obviously, the most famous APIs are the public ones, potentially known to anybody. However, such APIs only represent a small subset of all APIs that need to be managed. Many APIs that we encounter in the field are set up in such a way that their consumption is restricted to a specific group of developers. This happens for various reasons. Some talk of public and private APIs, others use the terms open and closed to represent the same distinction.

Most of the time, even public APIs start off as private APIs – as part of their development lifecycle. Until an API has been fully tested and is ready to be launched, it remains private and only accessible to its internal developer base. The ability to “flick the switch” on an API, to make it jump from a staging mode to a live mode, is an essential feature of an API management infrastructure.

Then there are APIs that are never meant to be public in the first place. Most APIs actually fall under this category. Many enterprises that are moving forward with API management are exposing APIs privately – for example, to facilitate the creation of custom mobile apps for their employees, in order to tap into the BYOD trend. Those APIs are intended to be consumed by their own developers, contractors and sometimes partners.

The Layer 7 API Portal is geared towards managing APIs that are either public or private and lets API managers control which developers are made aware of which APIs. This lets you have a single point of management for all APIs, regardless of their target audience. By default, only public APIs are visible on the API Portal.

A series of tutorial videos for the API Portal product has recently been posted on our YouTube channel. As it happens, one of videos is called Publish a Private API and it’s embedded below.

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