ArcelorMittal is the largest steel company in the world and produces high quality steel in various countries. In their pursuit of innovation and efficiency, they aimed to further automate their supply process. To achieve this, ArcelorMittal examined and reviewed their entire IT-landscape, ranging from their software to communication between business domains and with external partners. One of the resulting key decisions was to implement an API Management platform.
Situation and strategic objectives
As part of the 'Flat Europe' strategic program, ArcelorMittal wanted to set up a new strategic program at the level of supply chain and quality. They aimed to build a new logistics platform for logistics and quality stakeholders to automate the process of incoming orders, support and quality control. In order to achieve this objective, ArcelorMittal decided to work with an API management platform as all of these services are exposing APIs and needed to be properly managed. The API Management platform helps enabling a greater digital transformation by exposing a collection of stand-alone services through a shared platform.
Archers was responsible for the elaboration of the API program, the training and supervision of development teams and the publication of the guidelines. Furthermore, we developed the reference architecture and introduced the API management platform. In order to generate a general mindset in which APIs are central, we provided support and resources.
Bringing development teams on board
In order to succeed, it was very important to first get the developer community on board in the new API story. For this purpose, a reference architecture with guidelines was developed which showed the developer community how to implement APIs. Archers then provided continuous guidance and support.
"Through professional guidance, Archers followed up teams and code reviews. The orchestration of the community operation went very well." – Ken Wauters, ArcelorMittal
The API development is done by ArcelorMittal's own development teams, with Archers providing assistance by creating example APIs that already contain certain structures or by providing (reusable) code packages that facilitate development. All the concerns and feedback from the development teams were taken into account in order to arrive at a joint solution that was supported by everyone.
Although ArcelorMittal was already using APIs, they didn't have an official platform yet to centralize and manage them. Therefore, the next step was to select the right API Management Platform to manage and expose these API’s.
After a selection process based on ArcelorMittal's requirements and needs, the IBM API Connect platform emerged as the best solution. The choice for API Connect was finalized after organizing a successful proof of concept.
"It was clear that Archers had a lot of experience with roadmaps. After the set-up, we saw the benefits of working with an external party. Because of their maturity and knowledge in change management, they were able to anticipate immediately and to deliver in short term." – Ken Wauters, ArcelorMittal
After the product selection, the platform architecture was developed. Thorough consideration was given to the installation of the platform and its different components. Important factors like resilience, high availability, performance and cost were taken into account to arrive at a finalized architecture.
Currently, a lot of APIs are already in production and are directly exposed on the backends. In 2020, the API Management platform was installed, marking the start of a transition phase to guide the developer community to expose APIs on the API Platform. This will allow ArcelorMittal to better manage APIs and expose them more securely. Furthermore, it will allow them to gain more insights into the usage and functioning of APIs, such as who the main consumers are, how often they are used and how efficient and performant the APIs are.
Coaching and continuous communication, both towards internal teams as well as business partners, will be key to making the platform successful. People will be informed about how to develop APIs for the platform, how to expose APIs on the gateway, how to learn from the analytics and usage data, and how to consume APIs exposed on the platform.
“It's exciting to work in a large, international organization where the scale of things means that implementing the API Management platform will generate a real impact. I find myself in a diverse group of people and developers, each having their own focus on a particular domain or business. This makes it a very interesting working environment where we can accomplish a lot together.”- Matthias, Integration Architect at Archers
ArcelorMittal preferred a cooperation with Archers as they were looking for a reliable party with some proven services and sufficient expertise on the counter. This experience was particularly required in the field of running Enterprise API management programs in a large context and spread across Europe. Most competitors are rather technical while Archers offers end-to-end support over the scope of an API program, including architecture, design, tooling and the platform around it.
"Archers managed to put us with our feet on the ground. With the right insights, they supported us in a good start of the program. They also built applications and looked at how API architecture fitted into the current picture." – Ken Wauters, ArcelorMittal
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