Black Knight and the quest to conquer an ecosystem of partners, developers, and customers with Apigee
Editor’s note: Today we hear from Brad Homer, Senior API Strategy Product Manager at Black Knight Inc., on how the company uses the Apigee API Management Platform from Google Cloud to transform integrated software, data, and analytics solutions for the mortgage industry. Read on to learn how Black Knight uses APIs to facilitate and automate many of the business processes across the homeownership life cycle.
Black Knight is a leading provider of technology, data, and analytics to the mortgage industry, catering to both large and mid-tier banks in the United States. Over the past few decades, we tended to manage customer integrations on a case-by-case basis. Whenever a bank needed to connect with a Black Knight app, we’d launch another integration project. Lather, rinse, repeat. Needless to say, this was inefficient; we knew we had to do something to centralize this process.
Building versus buying an API management platform
To start, we created some homegrown API solutions. Despite being largely successful with one of these solutions, we saw that technology advances were outpacing our capacity to update our solutions in-house. We knew we needed to move toward an API platform that would support RESTful architecture and that would fully enable mobile solutions. It also had to be extremely secure. Knowing how complicated such a platform would be to build ourselves, we decided that our developers were better off focusing on providing core solutions to Black Knight clients; engaging with an outside provider was the right way for us to advance our API strategy.
After a lengthy proof-of-concept process, we went into production with the Apigee API Management Platform from Google Cloud in 2018. In our opinion, Apigee was the most complete, robust, technically sound and full-featured option from among all of the API management tools we evaluated. Its ease of use was the deciding factor for our developers, and the Apigee analytics capabilities provided considerable insight into the anatomy of an API call—something the other platforms we considered didn’t do as well.
Choosing Apigee meant that we didn’t have to focus on developing and maintaining a tool or spend enormous amounts of money trying to keep up with security patching. For a large company like Black Knight, an API management tool is something we don’t want to spend a lot of time on. We know that Google Cloud devotes tremendous resources to it, and it would be difficult to replicate that in-house.
Black Knight has more than 150 client-facing applications. Almost half of them now are built with APIs that are externally facing, and many of these apps use APIs that integrated with other Black Knight applications. Add to that the huge number of applications out there that come from clients and third-party vendors, and suddenly, we had a management challenge from an API perspective.
Driving cultural change
We came to Apigee with the goal of containing and empowering our huge ecosystem of APIs, customers, third parties, and internal users.
Given Black Knight’s size, our developers and customers understandably each have different business goals, so getting everyone to come to a centralized platform is a great opportunity. My role is to help people consider other options so they can be open to the benefits that Apigee brings us.
Now that we’ve engaged with Apigee for over a year, we see two big benefits. First, the huge reduction in point-to-point integrations has produced tremendous efficiencies for us and our customers, who now get instant integration once they’ve been authorized for a particular API. Second, Apigee’s capacity for mobile enablement lets us satisfy our customers’ needs for secure mobile apps.
From a technical perspective, security is complicated for mobile apps. We’re often accessing sensitive information on a mobile device that can't always be trusted. This kind of scenario requires us to implement a number of security precautions to help ensure confidential information remains protected.
The Apigee API management platform addresses these needs in the simplest way possible. It solves complex problems related to security without having to deploy a new API proxy each time we need to support a particular mobile device upgrade. Our back-end applications remain protected because Apigee helps manage security, requests, access tokens, and authorizations. Today, our back-end applications work with Apigee to communicate with mobile devices or servers coming over the internet.
Apigee has also enabled us to do a better job sharing a variety of APIs. The developer portal lets us stitch together APIs and get more creative about how we can innovate and build new solutions based on these collections of APIs. At this point, anybody that has a nondisclosure agreement with us can register for the developer portal. The nature of our business is such that we can't just open up our APIs to anybody, but it’s available to our contracted third parties.
Our Apigee journey has been exciting, and we’re making great progress. I’m looking forward to what innovations we will come up with next, thanks to the way Apigee enables us to create, implement, and deliver.
To learn more about API management on Google Cloud, visit the Apigee page.