API Control Plane: We have just begun

Unlock the full potential of your API ecosystem with API Control Plane—your centralized solution for streamlined management and monitoring.

Meric Aydonat Meric Aydonat

We released API Control Plane as a single pane of glass to view, manage, and monitor entire organizational API landscapes, see the release announcement here. Our webMethods family employs agile software development practices to provide useful tools to our customers as soon as they are ready and enhance them with the feedback we receive. This helps us to stay up to date with changing market requirements and design the exact tools our customers need in the most helpful way for them. This means that sometimes we go to market with part of our vision, only to make it better, faster, stronger soon. 

In this blog post, let’s look at the current API Management market, our take on how we, as the API management experts, can ease our customers’ lives, and see a teaser on what you should be expecting from the API Control Plane.

Changing API Management Market

You may have seen some recent discussions on how API Management is dead. This take is considering those walled garden solutions where an organization buys every tool they need throughout the API lifecycle from a single vendor. This type of API Management has certainly been dead for some time. There are many new and specialized solutions that are dedicated to API design, testing development, security, etc. These solutions are focused on a specific part of the API lifecycle and are developed by experts in that domain. They are designed to cover that domain in depth, considering comprehensive use cases. Some of them such as our API security partners are really cool solutions that also take advantage of the recent advancements in AI technologies. 

Building a custom API Management ecosystem makes a lot of sense since different organizations have different use cases, different threats, and different strategies for their API programs. Based on their unique requirements, organizations may architect their API ecosystems with one or more of these different dedicated tools. However, these custom ecosystems put a lot of pressure on IT departments to make these tools seamlessly work together.

Our vision

We at webMethods have always designed our solutions “loosely coupled, tightly integrated” with an “everything-as-an API” approach. This means that an organization may only buy the specific solution from webMethods, growing their ecosystem as needed with other tools from our portfolio or from other vendors, and integrating them seamlessly. This early strategy of ours has proven even more relevant in the current state of the market.  

Our vision is to bring our expertise in full lifecycle API Management to today’s hybrid and distributed API ecosystems. We provide an open, pluggable, and extensible API Management platform to help organizations build, grow, and monetize their API ecosystems. On top of that, we aim to provide tools to organize and manage these complex ecosystems. API Control Plane is the key solution here that provides a single pane of glass to API data planes. These data planes consist of runtimes that serve the API traffic; routing calls, transforming requests and responses, or shaping the traffic. They may be a webMethods API Gateway or Developer Portal, or from third party vendors. API Control Plane acts as the management plane to visualize and manage these data planes from a single place. 

Our vision in the API Management space puts the user experience first. And we consider the user experience from a couple of different angles: 

  • Task based user journeys: Users should be able to complete logical tasks in the API lifecycle in a single interface without even knowing what tool is doing what part of the task.  
  • Meet users where they are: Based on organizational or personal constraints, API personas are sometimes in the cloud, behind firewalls, or on personal laptops. Their API ecosystem should work just as seamlessly with the same UX wherever they are working. 
  • Everything as code: Our tools and the assets generated with them should be available as code so that they can easily be integrated for automation into CI/CD and DevOps tools chains and version control systems.  
  • Shift-left governance: Users should be guided with governance rules and processes at the point where they need it to enforce organizational standards. This guidance should be integrated with their workflows and not be overwhelming to the users. 
  • AI enabled: Our tools should be smart enough to provide assistance and complete tasks on behalf of the user.

What’s next for the API Control Plane

API Control Plane is the entry point to this vision. We are planning to introduce features and UX changes to strengthen this vision and align our entire API Management suite to support it. API Control Plane already interfaces with webMethods and third-party runtimes and shows their metrics for Platform Owners to monitor the entire API Platform performance and Product Managers to monitor business KPIs. We plan on introducing control features to help these personas and others complete tasks on the API Control Plane without having to traverse API Gateways or Developer Portals. Users will be able to design and activate policies, create API bundles for monetization, and publish their APIs for consumption in the API Control Plane. However, this needs to be introduced with user management capabilities so that only the right people should be able complete certain tasks. That’s why we take user management and separation of roles and responsibilities seriously and are planning on introducing functional and data privileges to give organizations control over who can access or manage what. 

The capability to monitor KPIs for different API assets is one of the most important features of the API Control Plane and will remain so. That’s why we are also planning to introduce more dashboards and visualization capabilities to monitor metrics and performance of APIs, applications, and API packages. 

However, we don’t envision a user staring at the API Control Plane all day to notice changing KPIs. We want users to only have to use it when they want to complete a task. Other times, the API Control Plane should warn the user that something needs their attention and offer solutions. That’s why we are planning on introducing alerts and notifications powered by AI. That way, the API Control Plane will be the smart assistant monitoring metrics 24/7 and calling the user’s attention only when needed.  

One of guiding principles is enablement of automation. We have been abiding by this principle with our CI/CD DevOps support which has been one of our strongest suits. We intend on enhancing this strength by introducing API assets as code. This includes APIs, applications, policies, governance rules, and more. We plan on making every asset that passes through the data planes available as code. This will enable seamless automation with version control systems, expanding the API management capabilities with the capabilities of these tools that organizations already integrate with their other IT tasks such as actions or team management. 

Governance should also be automated to be the user’s companion guiding their work to comply with organizational standards without creating them extra burden. I described this approach in detail in our API governance blog post. The idea is to provide governance capabilities assisted by AI where needed, be flexible in setting and refining these policies, and integrating these assistance features in the logical workflows of users. We plan on providing tools to present our users with this guidance where it applies, as soon as it applies, and offer quick actions to make their work comply.  

We are excited for what is to come to the API Control Plane and our entire API Management suite. I hope this little teaser post gets you excited as well. As I said in the beginning, we like listening to our users and fine tune our course based on feedback. Please reach out to our product management if you have any. Or schedule a demo to see what tremendous features we are capable of already.