There’s a movement afoot in enterprise software today that is having a major impact on how we think about building and using applications. Companies are aggressively building APIs to provide new ways to deliver information to the edge of the enterprise and beyond.
A key force driving this shift is the growing importance of mobile applications. Sometimes this is driven by the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce, and sometimes it’s more of an opportunistic approach to find new ways to engage with customers and new routes to market. APIs make it possible to connect across business and technology boundaries to deliver data and capabilities where they’re needed, when they’re needed.
Unlike prior approaches to building APIs (think SOAP), this newer generation of RESTful APIs are lightweight, developer-friendly, and well suited to the high performance needs of mobile applications and highly distributed networks.
However, it’s not just about mobility. Developers are also finding APIs to be a very cost-effective way to provide self-service access points for channel partners, supply chain participants, and internal developers. The opportunity for top-line and bottom-line benefits are motivating a lot of companies to experiment with APIs.
It also turns out that APIs are a good way to open up access to legacy applications. It’s a lot more cost effective to add functionality by writing an external service called through an API than it is to hack around in an old monolithic application.
The real wild card and potential game changer though, is the Internet of Things (IoT). Over the next decade, as the IoT becomes a reality, almost everything that spins, moves or plugs into an electrical outlet will become web connected with a digital heartbeat. It is estimated that there will be up to 50 billion connected devices in the world by 2020 (about 10 billion exist today).
The first 20 years of the Internet has mostly been consumer focused, but the next round of innovation is going to be focused on driving large-scale instrumentation and connectivity into the industrial world. Discreet and process manufacturing, transportation and logistics, medicine, and power generation are just a few examples of where this is already happening today.
Not only is the sheer number of these devices unprecedented, they will also be hyper-connected—connected to servers for providing or consuming data, and connected to each other to create networks of machines that use complex analytics and algorithms to optimize their collective operation.
So, the key question here is, what enables all of this connectivity?
Of course, there’s a need for a high-performance messaging layer to move all of this data around, but the actual enabler for connectivity will come in the form of APIs. Whether that happens at the device level, or through an abstraction layer that devices connect to, remains to be seen.
Bottom line: there will be APIs for mobile access, APIs for partner and supply chain access, APIs to enhance the customer experience, APIs for third-party developer use, and APIs for internal developers who will build these loosely coupled and distributed IOT applications. You can do the math. That’s a lot of APIs.
What I’m leading up to here is that this explosion of APIs is going to require a pretty robust API Management solution to deal with all of this complexity. Depending on the business you’re in and the use cases you have to support, your needs will vary, but you’ll almost certainly need at least the following capabilities:
- Easy way to discover APIs and understand how they work
- Policy-based framework to control security, access, and runtime attributes
- Analytics capabilities to monitor and align IT capacity with API usage
- Management of the diverse API user communities (internal and external)
- Ability to easily integrate with your existing applications and middleware
Modern integration platforms are built around the notion of API-enabled access and this new wave of API development is a natural extension point for these platforms. TIBCO has been in this business for almost 20 years. We’re a $1 billion software company with thousands of successful customers. We have the expertise to help you develop an API strategy that’s right for you. Give us a call.