3 May, 2021 | 3 min read

WSO2 API Manager 4.0: A Giant Leap for API-led Integration

  • Chamin Dias
  • Associate Lead - Marketing - WSO2

Today, organizations utilize APIs to innovate fast and reach new markets. Within this context, API-driven business models have become key for sustained success across industries—including retail, financial services, eCommerce, healthcare, and education. As a result, the API economy has emerged.

For over a decade, WSO2 API Manager has been recognized as an industry-leading offering; it has helped hundreds of API-driven, digitally transformed businesses achieve their full potential. In version 4.0, the product also inherits all the capabilities of WSO2 Enterprise Integrator, the open-source hybrid integration platform that provides a graphical drag-and-drop flow designer and a configuration-driven approach to building low-code integration solutions for cloud- and container-native projects.

Figure 1: Expansion of digitization

With the latest features and improvements, WSO2 API Manager offers a complete platform to develop integration use cases and create value-added digital solutions and expose them as APIs to all internal and external stakeholders.

Looking back

WSO2 API Manager has come a long way since it was introduced in 2012 as API Manager 1.0. Our prior version (3.2) was named a Leader in the Forrester Wave: API Management Solutions Q3, 2020. The report evaluated the 15 most significant vendors across 26 criteria and stated, “The solution particularly well suits buyers with strategies that combine integration, APIs, and microservices with a desire for the benefits of open source.”

Figure 2: Overview of the API Manager components

Prior versions came with the following modules.

WSO2 API Manager

WSO2 API Manager is an open-source product that supports full-lifecycle API management. The product has built-in support for API design, prototyping, API governance, and API analytics. These capabilities help multiple stakeholders—such as API developers, partners, product managers, and API consumers—to get the maximum benefits from the system. There are a number of extensions available to further enhance these capabilities based on user requirements.

This article contains all the features that were found in the previous version.

WSO2 API Manager Analytics

This product is the main facilitator for decision-making as it is capable of recording, organizing, and presenting business analytics of the complete API ecosystem. Ecosystem-based analytics assist different stakeholders to have the necessary views of the same system and make adjustments for maximum performance. In today’s business world, most businesses make decisions using data and analytics, hence the same requirement exists in API-driven businesses as well.

To learn more refer to this post.

WSO2 Micro Gateway

The need for lightweight gateways that can support container-based deployments has increased due to the adoption of microservices in the API management space. Microservices architecture (MSA) demands low resource consumption compared with traditional monolithic infrastructures. WSO2 API Microgatway has out-of-the-box support for service enrichment such as authentication, authorization, rate limiting, message transformation, and analytics. It does these while acting as a gateway for microservices. This is especially critical for MSA-based API management scenarios.

A summary of the previous version of the WSO2 API Micro gateway can be found here.

One Platform for API Management, Integration, and Event-Driven Architecture

The latest version takes a giant step forward towards facilitating rapid digital transformation in a seamless manner by bringing in WSO2’s integration capabilities. The product will help enterprises to innovate digitally and achieve the following:

  • Manage the complete API ecosystem with all internal and external stakeholders
  • Secure APIs using the best standards in the industry (from basic authentication to AI-powered authentication mechanisms)
  • Maintain the full lifecycle of APIs and facilitate revision support
  • Attach different service level agreements (SLAs) into the APIs to offer a better customer experience
  • Deploy in a wide range of infrastructure including on-premises, cloud, hybrid, and container-native architectures
  • Providing first-class support for a set of protocols and technologies, including REST, GraphQL, and Async APIs
  • Record, organize, and present analytics to different stakeholders to make effective decisions based on usage patterns

The full list of capabilities of the solution can be found in the release note.

Towards API-led integration

Today, most businesses are looking for solutions that can help them innovate faster. They have existing services but they need a rapid mechanism to integrate these services into useful, consumable digital products. At the same time, they must create new services and products to stay competitive in today’s business environment.

Figure 3: Continuous integration and development

Accordingly, there are two segments in this picture. Service integration and exposing services. In order to create digital enablement in a short time, the need for strong solutions becomes inevitable. These solutions should accelerate the process of service creation, service management, service integration, and service lifecycle management—without creating an additional burden on the organization.

Say hello to WSO2 API Manager 4.0!

WSO2 API Manager 4.0 is a complete solution for building and managing APIs, including API proxies. In simple terms, it is a combination of WSO2’s API Manager and Enterprise Integrator platforms. Now companies can integrate different digital services, create value-added APIs, and expose them with quality of services in a seamless manner.

Today, there are billions of digital services (the rise of microservices has also become a catalyst for this). These services can be combined with each other in different ways to formulate some useful, value-added services. For example, if online payment processing is combined with an airline reservation service and a hotel reservation service, then the whole service bundle can be presented to consumers to perform all their flight bookings, hotel reservations, and payments.

The possibilities are endless and the number of service providers is increasing day by day. In simple terms, the number of service providers (as well as services) has exploded in the past few years and the pattern continues to evolve. In this context, organizations are looking for solutions that can help them build, combine, create and expose these services.

Moreover, the need for real-time data processing has also become a pivotal fact for better customer service. In today’s world, users increasingly demand ever more interactive experiences and they expect to be told when something has changed without hitting the refresh button.

This is where API-led integration comes into play.

Beyond just API management

Businesses need robust and scalable software solutions to be successful in this digital era. They have the expertise in the respective business domain but in order to survive and thrive, they need a winning digital transformation strategy.

Figure 4: Overview of the new API Manager

APIs are at the heart of digital transformation and the ongoing migration of applications and services from monolithic architectures to cloud native infrastructures enable the automated orchestration of massively distributed services. As the underlying architectures become more complex, so does managing their APIs and gaining visibility into their performance.

Cloud-native infrastructures driven by tools such as Kubernetes demand a distributed approach to API management in order to realize the benefits of the architectural pattern. Many older API management providers have struggled to adapt to the needs of these infrastructures, hampering the ability of their customers to easily migrate according to their strategies. With the latest version of the WSO2 API Manager, these obstacles can be addressed easily.

Figure 5: Illustration of the relationship between multiple services

Though API-led integration is now considered a best practice, the API management solution should have the ability to keep up with the needs of enterprises who still need to connect to systems that don't provide a standard web-based API out of the box.

It’s true that there are a host of API creation (and management) tools that utilize standard connectors. However, the user/developer experience becomes problematic when it comes to complex service integrations and service orchestration. In many business organizations, integration development is still handled by a team separate from the one responsible for API development and management, and those workflows are often optimized for the needs of the business.

If the combination of API management and integration solutions fails to satisfy the demands of both teams, it will cause poor customer experience and inefficient workflows. However, there often needs to be some integration work involved in exposing services managed by an integration system to an API management platform, especially when building solutions to address real customer needs.

WSO2 API Manager is a solution that can handle these complexities. It enables business owners to focus only on utilizing their domain knowledge to create innovative solutions, without worrying about how to integrate and manage services.

Closing thoughts

With the popularity of digital transformation, organizations are looking for solutions that can help them reap the benefits of the digital economy. In this context, APIs play a major role as APIs are the key building blocks of service orchestration and service integration.

In addition to that, it is necessary to combine/integrate different services to offer value-added digital products to the marketplace. Both these aspects (integrating services & exposing them as APIs) come hand-in-hand when it comes to implementing a successful digital transformation strategy.

As the latest member of the WSO2 API Manager family, WSO2 API Manager 4.0.0 is capable of addressing the requirements of the modern integration and API management use cases.

Download the latest version of WSO2 API Manager today and follow the official product documentation to get started.