API Management

How EBSCO delivers dynamic research services with Apigee

Editor's note: Today we hear from Adam Ray, platform product manager at EBSCO Information Services, a leading provider of research databases, e-journals, magazines, and eBooks. Learn how the company is working with Apigee to connect with customers through APIs.

For more than 70 years, EBSCO has supported research at private and public institutions, including libraries, universities, hospitals, and government organizations. One of the reasons that customers have continued to rely upon us over the decades is because we actively innovate and adapt new technologies to give customers access to the growing pool of digital resources in the information age.

Today we offer many product lines, including research databases, e-journals, magazines, eBooks, and other resources, to connect organizations with the right services for their research needs. Product teams typically created different API solutions upon request to improve customers’ experiences. For instance, customers might request APIs to help customize user interfaces or to deliver multiple EBSCO resources and assets to their users in a unified way.

As the number of solutions using APIs at EBSCO grew, it started getting harder to control traffic and performance in our data center. We didn’t have a good way to regulate API calls, so heavy usage could cause dramatic spikes in traffic and degrade performance. As we expect the number of APIs and calls to grow in the future, we needed to find a better way to manage, secure, and even monetize APIs to maintain a high level of performance for customers.

Working with a market leader

Although we have a lot of technical skill in-house, we wanted to get out of the business of building things for ourselves so that we could focus our resources on polishing and expanding core services. That’s why we decided to look at API management solutions that had all of the capabilities we wanted built in, such as a developer portal, monetization features, diverse policies, and analytics that would help us better understand our customers and how they’re using our APIs.

We started by looking at the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Full Life Cycle API Management to learn more about API market leaders. We talked to all of the top vendors, read literature, and explored how the top solutions worked. The Apigee API Management Platform stood out for both its functionality and flexibility. While many competitors wanted to define the service hosting platform for us, we already have a strong digital ecosystem built around service meshes. Apigee was the only option flexible enough to work alongside our existing systems and architecture.

As we worked more with Apigee, we also discovered that the team there has extensive experience with APIs, and they were eager to share their knowledge. They held workshops and even had “office hours” where they would sit down and answer all of our questions. If we weren’t sure about the best way to solve an issue, the Apigee team was always ready with best practices and insights to help us make the best choice.

Advanced functionality out of the box

We are already impressed by how easy it is to get started with the Apigee platform. Turnkey policies and built-in security standards help us evaluate traffic and minimize spikes that could overload our systems. Apigee has a wide range of features that work straight out of the box, so we don’t have to spend time building a developer portal, enforcing policies, or figuring out how to integrate all of the different components. Instead, internal teams can focus on adding APIs and planning new features for our customers.

The developer portal is currently open to just a few existing customers, but we expect it to be an essential component of expanding our API program. The developer portal will give partners, vendors, customers, and other developers a single location to find a comprehensive list of API-related documentation. They can easily learn what APIs are available and how to use them to integrate services, adjust interfaces, or support other needed processes.

A solid foundation for growth

Each of our lines of business plans to expose two to four APIs for a total of 15 APIs on our roadmap. Once we have released the APIs and opened up our developer portal, we can start looking at opportunities for adding revenue streams through monetization. Because our central business model involves subscriptions and billing, we have payment infrastructure in place. But the Apigee monetization capabilities will enable us to set up payment for developers who aren’t currently EBSCO customers. We can create a system for developers to sign up through the developer portal and start paying for any API package that they want to use.

Technology changes rapidly, and our customers constantly adopt new devices and platforms. With Apigee helping us to create and manage more APIs, we have a fast, easy way to connect with all sorts of customer touchpoints and provide excellent support now and in the future.