How The API Economy is Changing in 2024

How The API Economy is Changing in 2024

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The API economy is not just growing in 2024 — it’s transforming. As APIs become the backbone of digital interactions across industries, the way we develop, manage, and secure them is undergoing a profound shift. Cloudflare’s 2024 API Security and Management Report reveals a striking statistic: 57% of internet traffic is now API requests.

This growth is not just coming from software-as-a-service companies deploying more APIs but from more industries seeing the potential for APIs. The same Cloudflare report shows that IoT, transit, legal, and gaming industries are all increasing their API use.

What does this mean for the industry? What trends is this growth driving or revealing? Below, we focus on four core concepts of the API economy that have become crucial in 2024.

Platform Engineering Takes Center Stage

As the API economy grows in 2024, organizations increasingly recognize the importance of platform engineering in enabling API productivity and success. While platform engineering concepts have existed before, they are now being more clearly defined and prioritized. Getting platform engineering right will be vital as more industries adopt APIs and the API economy expands. Platform engineering enables API providers and consumers to be more productive and successful.

As platform engineering continues to grow, teams that can enable API producers and consumers to work together effectively and leverage APIs to their full potential will have a significant advantage. Platform engineering teams can attract more developers, partners, and customers by creating efficient and user-friendly API ecosystems and by focusing on collaboration so API consumers can provide valuable feedback and insights that help shape the direction of API development.

Good API Development Is Critical For Survival

APIs are no longer just connection points between the applications that really matter — they are products in their own right. Developers are the consumers of these products, and their experience using an API can make or break its adoption and success. Gone are the days when developers could simply build an API, forego design and testing, and hack together documentation as an afterthought.

In 2024, a solid approach to API design is table stakes in the competitive API landscape. However, this process is now assisted by the rise of AI. As AI becomes more sophisticated and ubiquitous, API tools will (along with the rest of the tech world) increasingly rely on AI for spec generation and documentation, for example. To improve matters in a virtuous cycle, well-designed APIs with comprehensive, accurate, and easy-to-understand documentation will be better positioned to take advantage of this trend.

By providing AI code generation tools with the necessary information to create high-quality applications, the very APIs that are taking advantage of AI to optimize the design process will be able to expand their reach and adoption without requiring extensive human coding.

Harnessing AI for API Development and Security

Speaking of coding, a GitHub look at AI and APIs in 2023 found that 92% of US-based developers working at large companies used AI coding tools.

On the API development side, AI is increasingly used to assist in creating and maintaining APIs. Developers leverage AI tools to automate tasks such as generating code, creating documentation, and identifying potential vulnerabilities. This speeds up the development process and generally helps ensure higher-quality and more secure APIs.

Keep in mind that the use of AI also presents new security challenges. AI can be an attack vector, enabling less sophisticated attackers to execute more complex and compelling attacks against APIs. This underscores the importance of robust API security measures and the need for developers to stay vigilant against emerging threats.

And, as luck would have it, AI offers opportunities to enhance API security. AI-powered security tools can help detect and prevent attacks in real-time by analyzing API traffic patterns and identifying anomalies. As AI technologies advance, we expect more sophisticated security solutions to emerge.

A Laser Focus on API Security

Even at API Days New York recently, we saw an uptick in security measures. All of this reinforces the importance of security as the API economy expands and more industries rely on APIs. The increasing use of APIs has made them a prime target for attackers, and the consequences of a breach can be severe.

As in other areas of security, the “shift left” approach has made its way to APIs. This means embedding security-led design processes and best practices earlier in the API development process rather than at the end. By identifying and addressing vulnerabilities at the start, organizations can reduce the risk of security incidents and minimize the cost and disruption of fixing issues later in the life cycle.

Automation plays a critical role in enabling this shift left approach. With the rapid pace of API development and deployment, manual security testing simply can’t keep up. Organizations are increasingly adopting automated security tools that can scan APIs for vulnerabilities, monitor suspicious activity, and provide real-time alerts when issues are detected.

This requires robust API management capabilities, including discovering and cataloging APIs, monitoring usage and performance, and applying granular access controls. By centralizing API management and security, organizations can reduce complexity, improve compliance, and respond quickly to emerging threats.

Wrapping Up

As the API economy grows and AI technologies mature, the intersection of these two fields will become increasingly important. Organizations that can effectively harness the power of AI in their API strategies will be well-positioned to drive innovation and stay ahead of the curve.

Does this align with your experience of the API economy in 2024? I’d love to hear from people in the field about how AI, security, platform engineering, and bundles are changing the way you work with APIs.