Early in July, we hosted episode 2 of our becoming a digital enterprise webinar series. This time, digitalML’s John Bogard and Collin Rafter presented on the tried and tested approach to API governance at scale – how advances in governance can be a key enabler to differentiating your enterprise digitally if done right. It’s definitely worth watching the on-demand webinar in full, which you can access here, but we’ve summed up some key insights for you in this post.
Reliably Exposing Functionality is a Priority for Large Enterprises
We see this across our enterprise customers – with every business becoming a digital business, enterprises are prioritizing the unlocking of functionality in reliable and consistent ways – the ongoing goal state is to be nimble, fast, flexible and consistent.
Business and IT functions need to be exposed in a reliable and flexible way (normally as APIs, Events, and Services) that everyone can understand and interact with (both business and IT roles, plus customers/partners). This enables everything the API-based supply chain promises; the ability to bundle and recombine capabilities into products, embed and participate in new ecosystems – all while balancing IT modernization priorities and the day-to-day efforts and complexity of “keeping the lights on” as a large enterprise.
John gave Twilio as a great example of functionality made available as building block APIs for communication – and it now operates more than 1000 microservices. But, most of our customers are projecting a need for tens of thousands of building blocks under the covers. And done so in a way multiple teams are working together at the same time and enabling digital recombination; combing and recombining functionality to launch products from other building blocks and other products. Made possible by reliable, bundleable capabilities and properly exposed functionality. Where they’re represented in the format that makes most business and technical sense, when the functionality is distributed and run in highly connected systems, and when it’s worked on; planned, designed, run, updated, extended by multiple teams and roles playing together and to their strengths.
Governance is a key enabler to APIs at scale – current challenges and perceptions
The key enabler to this digital goal state is enterprise governance of APIs, Events and Services, through standards, validation, patterns, frameworks and consistency.
Far too often we see governance as a siloed mandate, and it’s likely already causing issues for your organization. For example, providing and consuming functionality which doesn’t work as advertised, or missing a project because of a provider change from a key API or Service that’s been impacted.
Projecting into the near digital future, it’s easy to imagine the scale of the missed revenue cost of improper governance across tens of thousands of artifacts that will be provided and consumed as part of an accelerated digital strategy, and/or how unimpressed your partners will be when they have issues consuming your functionality.
The traditional governance problem boils down to 2 issues:
- governance is often a one-size-fits-all top-down approach – when in reality flexibility is needed – e.g. a point-to-point integration probably doesn’t need the same level of governance as a building block API for address validation.
- governance is often seen as a developer responsibility. It’s often a very manual process rather than making these governance models transparent and baking them into the process. This can disillusion talented developers (and we all know how valuable they are and hard to come by – the real value is when they are able to come in and have the motivation to move the needle in the enterprise rather than spend time manually reviewing governance rules stored in a spreadsheet style guide). We see developers left with a choice to make:
- cut code quickly because governance has been made a handbrake,
- go slow as part of a “big ‘G’” Governance process,
- ask for exceptions, in which case while the functionality may be delivered, the chances of that being able to be made into reliable and reusable building blocks is low. At the same time, the chances of increased complexity, added maintenance and unknown impact changes and loss of iP goes way up.
There is a way to do API governance at scale: Advances in governance
The good news is, done right, API governance can be encompassing, easy and transparent. Think empowerment and enablement over enforcement and force. And, with encompassing comes configurability, flexibility, and reportability.
Simply, to do governance at scale in a beneficial way, you need to manage governance holistically, automate it and flexibly apply your governance model.
Governance is more than API style guides and manual review – what makes a great governance model?
John detailed how we see the 3 C’s of a governance model: consistency, compliance, and completeness. And each has their own components:
Getting governance at scale right has 7 key benefits for your organization
The 3 Cs of governance, when managed holistically and baked-into the process across the entire integration lifecycle, can help strengthen and grow your portfolio of reliable reusable and re-combinable building blocks for delivering digital priorities.
Here are the 7 key potential benefits for your organization:
- Speed and faster time to market
- Reliable expansion
- Lower costs
- Platform and cloud flexibility
- Reporting – facilitating ad hoc audits and regulatory reports
- Increasing the longevity and value of your functionality – unlike traditional integration artifacts which typically have minimal longevity, governance ensures the functionality exposed, and the products built with the functionality get more valuable over time, and able to be exposed to more users to interact with (think product owners, business analysts etc – more on this in a recent blog).
- Synergy between roles and role enablement – we had some post-webinar questions around how benefits can be seen by this approach to governance at the individual role level – check out Collin’s follow up piece on how the 3 C’s of governance benefits Leadership, Product Owners, Developers, and Business Analysts.
An API Governance Model at scale in action
- examples of flexibly applying governance at each stage of the API lifecycle
- how to configure the governance model holistically in ignite
- governance processes and benefits for multiple roles
We also put together a useful governance maturity assessment for your enterprise which you can download here, compiled against benchmarks set by customers in verticals including banking, insurance, and healthcare.