Eneco Group, an integrated energy group with more than 7,000 employees, and a turnover of more than 4 billion euros, provides more than two million customers with consistent, secure energy supplies. The company is very much focusing on delivering and investing in sustainable energy. They operate from bases in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, France and Germany.
Starting point: An API Management Platform lacking standards and guidelines
In November 2017 Devoteam was brought in to review Apigee implementation and set up an API Management foundation at Eneco. At that time the company was already using the Apigee Edge – API Management Platform from Google for quite some time. During architectural review, we suggested improvements, such as enforcing security policies, improving development lifecycle process, ensuring code quality, having app-developer engagement via a developer portal, use of analytics to have in-depth knowledge about the APIs and last but not the least – having API standards and conventions in place to help API developers in configuring APIs in the API platform. We strongly recommend that to optimally use an API Management platform, an organization should have best practices and guidelines in place.
About Google’s API Management Platform Apigee
On November 10, 2016, Google completed the acquisition of Apigee, a Silicon Valley based company providing API management. Since then Apigee has grown to be one of the world’s leading API Management platforms, recognized by the likes of Forrester and others.
In general, having an API management platform in place is not just enough. How to utilize the offered features efficiently and as best as possible is one of the key ways to success. At the end of the day, any platform will fail if it is not used in right way. Eneco realized the importance of suggested improvements; as these improvements were not only helping the API developer to configure, make/maintain changes to the APIs in the right way, but also to help the organization to build and maintain features rapidly.
This resulted in the famous “one single source of truth” for developers leading to changes with less risk and less inefficiency.
The 4 key pillars of API Management
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Setting up an API Management foundation at Eneco
Our role was not only in setting up these standards and guidelines. It’s the same as creating a planning, creating one is easy, but to keep working according to your planning asks for another skill. So apart from the creation, the new standards, guidelines and conventions also had to be communicated across the departments. In short, any future development from that time on needed to happen in a specific way with specific actions, all written out as standards and guidelines. We also helped Eneco with an API Developer portal where app developers can make requests for APIs.
The advantages of an API Developer Portal are:
- Control over Data: Allows API documentation to be published with the right visibility/permission on the developer portal.
- On-board App developers: It helps app developers to get onboard easily.
- API Documentation: App developers can see what APIs are available to them and how they can make use of those listed APIs.
After setting-up the API Portal, we started on improving the development lifecycle of the APIs. We defined a way how the API developer can configure the APIs better, by standardizing a workflow by which they can create better and meaningful APIs. As part of creating a solid API Management foundation we set-up test strategies, version control, and a deployment strategy. We also helped in setting-up a custom and Eneco branded domain for the API gateway and developer portal.
Moving forward Devoteam also recommended Eneco to create a team of API champions. This was already a challenge in the beginning before we came in; because there were multiple teams working differently without, or following their own, standards/guidelines. We started to build knowledge in the centralized team with a common best practice, and stimulating everyone to work with the same standards/guidelines.
Of course, when there is enough maturity within a team, and in the future if there is a need for splitting teams, they are able to easily do so, because all team members share the same knowledge and best practices.
Strengthening and delivering quality APIs
Setting up the API team and delivering good quality APIs is a mix of discipline, best practices and a learning process. It’s fundamental to educate people in understanding the added value of well-designed and future-proof APIs. We struggled a lot with these points, so we tried to set a proper Canonical Data Model for APIs, based on the SID model. This part is still on-going but the results are very promising. Everybody started to realize the importance of having a similar model in place, not only for internal use but also if the customer wants to move towards the world of open APIs and different monetization models.
Result: An optimally used Apigee API Management Platform
Before we were brought in, Eneco was already making great steps towards API Management. The API management platform was there, and most of the functions were used. We were delighted for the opportunity to help Eneco in getting the full potential out of their Apigee API Management platform, which lead to building/developing new features faster and thereby improving Eneco’s time to market.
Discover our API Management solution
The digital ecosystem is evolving in many directions. Organizations are adopting multiple channels to drive newer sales channels, trigger new business models and generate more and more revenue. This triggers the need of unlocking business assets to the outside world in a secure manner.