APIs and IPAs are inextricably linked, not only because of their palindromic arrangement of letters, but because I have yet to attend an API conference where the hotel bar at the end of the day wasn’t full of attendees knocking back pints of the good stuff. We’re officially putting these two tastes that go great together in our new series, APIs over IPAs, where I sit down with industry experts over cold brews to talk about APIs, microservices, developer experience, the cloud, and all things API related.
I sat down with TIBCO’s VP and Cloud CTO Chris Lippi a couple of weeks ago at our very first APIs over IPAs event, held at The Patio in Palo Alto. As you may know, TIBCO acquired Mashery last September to help bolster its heritage of providing industry-leading integration solutions by adding Mashery’s well-respected API management product to their portfolio. Both Chris and I came over as part of that acquisition, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. While tipping back pints of Ballast Point’s Sculpin API, we covered a wide range of topics from how Mashery got its name to how TIBCO is taking their business to the cloud.
Chris joined Mashery as head of product more than eight years ago and shared some special insight into the market at the time. The founders started Mashery, he explained, because of the frustration they saw in sharing data with their partners while working at a social media company.
“You would expose an API, you wouldn’t put any security around it, you didn’t even put in any simple identification, and people were dropping each other’s website and so on.”
Mashery’s founding team developed a software as a service (SaaS) application hosted on Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure to help their customers—initially media companies who shared partner content on their sites—effectively manage their APIs and keep them stable to ensure they didn’t inadvertently crash their partners’ sites.
In the early days, it could be a struggle to explain why companies would need API management. “We spent a lot of time evangelizing and only some industries would get it,” he explained. In his time at Mashery, though, he says that’s been the biggest change. “Now, everyone gets it.”
The name Mashery extends from the idea of “mashups”—taking two things and combining them to make something even more valuable. APIs enable these mashups in the digital world. “A winery is where you make wine,” Chris said. “Mashery is where you make a mashup.”
The decision for Mashery to go cloud native was influenced partially by cost, “That looks cheap was one part of it,” he admitted, but was mainly driven by how it allowed them to better serve the needs of their customers. “The less we actually own ourselves, the more we can focus on the problems we’re trying to solve.”
This is a core part of TIBCO’s strategy to focus on cloud first for its line of new products. “TIBCO is in an amazing position as our technology is used to run the world’s largest companies,” Chris said. “Every single one of those companies is having a cloud journey that they’re talking about.”
And, like Mashery’s founders, TIBCO’s customers are realizing that moving to the cloud, in addition to saving money, enables them to shift their resources to developing better software and services for their customers. As Chris explained, “The ability to not have to think about the infrastructure, the networking, the OS layer, all of the things that we as application development professionals have had to think about forever, in a way it just kind of exists so that I can focus again on solving my own business problems.”
Though many products and services exist to make the move less painful, many companies realize this can be a 5 to 10 year transition. “There’s no ‘control-c, control-v’ kind of lift and shift magic.” Chris said. “It’s an evolution or an iteration. You’re going to take your cloud steps one at a time. You’re going to build your edge systems in the cloud to start, but eventually you’re going to nibble away at the core.”
APIs are at the center of this transformation, as evidenced by the recent movement toward microservices: smaller, independent services designed to solve a narrow business problem that applications may combine to create a larger system. Those services are exposed in most cases as RESTful APIs, which need to be governed and managed the same way traditional APIs are managed.
“The way you’re going to get out of your scale challenges and your application development life cycle is building very small, simple services, that can scale themselves,” Chris said. “People used to talk about APIs as SOA done right. Now they’re talking about microservices as SOA done right.”
We finished our conversation by discussing some of the security concerns we’ve heard from customers about moving to the cloud. Stressing that security is incredibly important, Chris made the point that it crucial for businesses to continue moving forward. “If you don’t find a way to do this and move faster and be able to scale according to the needs of your business, you might not be in business.”
Fortunately, security professionals are already on top of this. The companies that provide cloud-based infrastructure and services, including TIBCO, are focused on providing this security for their customers by hiring and listening to leading security experts. Rather than getting bogged down in questions of securities, companies should spend more time “figuring out the technology they need to take the risks they’re comfortable taking,” Chris said.
If you want to hear more from our VP and CTO of Cloud Chris Lippi and learn about TIBCO’s approach to helping you on your journey to the cloud, come see Chris at TIBCO NOW May 16th through 19th in Las Vegas! And stay tuned for our next APIs over IPAs event, coming soon to Seattle.