API management has just joined the big leagues

April 30, 2013

API Management platforms aren’t a startup thing anymore.

API calls

Years ago, I worked on a cloud solution at the company I worked for. As with anything at the time, we had APIs – but different ones: instead of ones with a C/C++ interface, I wanted something that runs on the web and settled for RESTful APIs. All was fun in the world, until I understood that there are many chores involved with such APIs: things that you don’t think about when you license software and provide C APIs to it.

These chores? Managing access to the APIs, dealing with security and privacy of API calls, throttling, caching, etc.

Searching around, I found the field of API Management: companies who are in the business of solving these generic chores for those who wish to expose APIs. The companies at the time were rather small, and the engineers I had caught the NIH syndrome, which wasn’t typical to them, and stated that whatever I will need they will be able to develop. Since that time, I left for another company, but the information of the need for API Management followed me since.

Last week I wrote about Telco APIs – little did I know of the changes that will occur in the rest of that week: with the acquisition of Layer 7 by CA, ProgrammableWeb changing hands from Alcatel Lucent to MuleSoft and 3scale raising more funds.

Add to this the recent acquisition of Mashery by Intel, and you have an interesting picture: Intel and CA just became API Management providers. You can expect more acquisitions soon.

If up until now, there was a debate whether there is value in API Management, then the easy answer now is “sure there is”. To me this all boils down to the fact that API Management is becoming part of the infrastructure an enterprise requires these days: just like a monitoring system or a SIEM – not everyone needs it, but a growing list of businesses does.

Will we get to the point where API Management is just as needed as an antivirus software or a firewall? Maybe. We are sure closer to that point in time than we are to the days when the question if they are necessary at all is relevant.

If you are looking for a good analysis on this space, then check out Kin Lane’s analysis of the latest API news.

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  1. The Internet was always a platform, but it is starting to look more and more like a distributed operating system.

    People are deploying applications, not just websites.

    If you look in the cloud-space, everything is being called ‘software defined’, like ‘software defined networking’. Or ‘software defined datacenter’.

    What does that mean ? It means there is an API that can be automated.

    What software ‘defines’ it ? It is the application specific software. The application controls (or actually the developer of that application) it’s own environment.

    An example: deploying a busy website on a public cloud. In a cloud environment you don’t just get IaaS (infrastructure, a bunch of VMs and some storage and networking) but you can also use the tools to do auto-scaling.

    The application developer defines when and how new VMs should be deployed when a website is busy or to do the opposite when it is not. That developer also specifies what storage and networks should be connected or if extra loadbalancers should be deployed (that last one can be handled by the cloud environment itself as well).

    Thus it is defined in software, how the APIs should be automated.

    So, maybe now you know more than all the other people that are still wondering what cloud or software defined even means. 🙂

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