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Microsoft Is Leader in API Management, Seen as Key to Post-Pandemic 'New Normal'

Microsoft is among the leaders in a new report on API management, which research firm Gartner sees as key in helping companies thrive in the "new normal" to follow the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, Microsoft is in the "Leaders" section of Gartner's Magic Quadrant report on Full Life Cycle API Management. However, going beyond the usual technical specs and associated business concerns in such reports, Gartner highlights the role of API management in business recovery from the pandemic.

"All enterprises are working to find their own path to a 'new normal' " said Gartner, noting that this will happen at different times for different companies.

With just about every business utilizing APIs, Gartner said, "Getting APIs right -- and doing so quickly -- therefore matters more than ever. The more effective an API program is, the more extensive the API platform will be -- and the quicker and easier rescaling and reinventing can be accomplished."

With such high stakes added to the context of the report, it takes on new significance, and Microsoft was quick to trumpet its inclusion as a leader in an Oct. 8 blog post.

"With the rapid shift to and increasing adoption of digital channels for all business transactions, APIs are becoming increasingly important for organizations, enabling them to innovate, increase agility and take advantage of new business opportunities by building thriving API ecosystems," said Microsoft. "Azure API Management helps organizations of all sizes to design, secure, publish, scale, and observe APIs across clouds and on-premises and make them discoverable and consumable by internal, partner, and public developers."

While Microsoft didn't mention the pandemic at all in its post, Gartner paid further attention to it, predicting that the already widespread use of APIs will increase rapidly in the future.

"During COVID-19 lockdowns, when usage of remote applications and devices increased, API platforms experienced, on average, 1.5 times as many API calls as normal. At the time of writing [the report was published Sept. 28], remote working remains widespread, so that figure will increase.

"LOBs view APIs as a way to compose new applications ... and innovate quickly. This enables them to change operating processes, introduce new offerings and use new channels."

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[Click on image for larger view.] Magic Quadrant for Full Life Cycle API Management (source: Gartner).

Joining Microsoft in the fairly crowded "Leaders" section were Google (Apigee), MuleSoft, Axway, Software AG, IBM and Kong. In a previous report, Microsoft was listed as a "Niche Player."

In describing the market, Gartner noted offerings support the planning, design, implementation, testing, publication, operation, consumption, versioning and retirement of APIs, specifically citing:

  • Developer portals for targeting, marketing to, and governing ecosystems of developers who produce and consume APIs
  • API gateways for runtime management, security and gathering of usage data
  • Policies for operational management, security, format translation and collection of business
  • Analytics to collect technical metrics associated with the usage of APIs

In its post, Microsoft touted the ability of its Azure API Management service to be integrated early into the API development process and as a part of the development inner-loop.

"API developers can configure, test, and debug APIs and policies in Azure API Management from within their primary tools such as Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio and orchestrate the deployment of API Management artifacts using popular DevOps solutions such as GitHub Actions," Microsoft said.

Creating an API Management instance using defaults in animated action
[Click on image for larger, animated GIF view.] Creating an API Management instance using defaults in animated action (source: Microsoft).

That functionality is provided for VS Code developers by the "Azure API Management Extension for Visual Studio Code (Preview)" extension, pictured in action in the above graphic. At the time of this writing it had been installed 78,417 times, earning an average rating of 4.6 (scale to 5) from nine developers who reviewed it.

Its listing says it can:

  • Create and delete an API Management instance
  • Create an API by importing an OpenAPI specification
  • Edit APIs and operations in Azure Resource Manager or OpenAPI formats
  • Edit policies at any scope
  • Associate an API with a product
  • Create, delete, and edit Named Values
  • Test an API using REST Client
  • Command Palette support for most features
  • Extract API and service configurations into ARM templates
  • Import Azure Functions - Transform HttpTriggers into APIs
  • Import App Service WebApp
  • Manage Self-Hosted Gateways
  • Policy Debugging

As is common in the industry, Microsoft provided a link to a copy of the Gartner report, licensed for distribution.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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