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UCLA Pilots API Portal

UCLA API portal

The University of California, Los Angeles has gone public with piloting of a fairly new developer portal specifically for APIs. The API developer portal is intended to simplify the sharing and discovery of campus application programming interfaces and web services — some 200 — while also providing a campuswide API governance program.

The use of the program maintains a consistent API experience and single "source of truth" for developers as they leverage various data sources for their applications. The outcome is that the university can create new solutions "more efficiently," explained Curtis Fornadley, program manager for enterprise integration at UCLA.

At the heart of the project is the use of Google's Apigee for API management.

According to a Google blog post, UCLA previously used "an enterprise service bus with a homegrown gateway for SOAP services." But SOAP-based services "are difficult to scale," said Fornadley. Managing them frequently means "locking them down, which clashes with our need to make data and functionality easier for developers to use."

Two development initiatives have put the API portal to the test. The first, the Ascend financial system, extends the university's financial system APIs, making them accessible to developers from various departments via secure and scalable self-service capabilities. The second, the student information system, uses APIs that give real-time access to the students' academic, financial and personal records to various UCLA applications.

Fornadley said the number of APIs — as well as the number of applications using and depending on them — increased considerably from these two projects alone, requiring better management for keeping services online, monitoring their usage and authenticating access to them.

Apigee usage has expanded from a million calls in 2020 to more than 11 million in 2021. Shortly, the transition of APIs from the home-grown gateway to the new portal will be completed, and call usage is expected to hit 49 million calls by the end of the year.

A benefit of the new portal, said Fornadley, is that usage provides the university with information that uncovers which services are being leveraged and how, which will be helpful in guiding future investments; in addition, IT considers it another route for making sure the versions of APIs used in institutional applications are protected against cybersecurity threats.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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