Last month at our inaugural Kong Summit, I declared on stage that API management is dead. As incredulous as you are reading this now, the crowd was just as curious about what I meant. There are three reasons why I believe that API management as we know it today will cease to exist, and a new category will emerge in its place.
Reason 1: Information Is in Flight
By 2025, IDC projects that 180ZB (zettabytes) of data will be created annually, and 25 percent of that data will be real time. That is to say, data will increasingly be in flight. With data passing more rapidly between services and clients, the value of data is no longer in silos or large data lakes — the value is in its motion from point A to point B. What’s most important now is the speed at which one can transfer, analyze and act on data as it passes from source to destination. Traditional, legacy API management solutions struggle with this. They are too heavyweight, slow and unable to scale horizontally, making them incompatible with the distributed architectures.
Reason 2: Cloud Native First, but Hybrid Always
The future of architecture will be cloud-native, but hybrid architectures will always exist. Although companies will inevitably build cloud native services, we must still continue to deal with services that run on legacy systems. We spent the last 20 years bringing IT inside our companies — companies won’t rip this out overnight. With the ability to work across systems as a primary consideration, API management as we know it simply isn’t flexible enough. Legacy solutions were born before the advent of containers and serverless, and they cannot meet the demands of a mixed cloud native and hybrid architectures world.
Reason 3: Services Are Exploding
The number of services we need to manage will explode. Companies are evolving in the same way that organisms did — from a single cell to multicellular organisms. Amazon, for example, grew from a single service to an incredibly complex network of thousands of services. Like most companies embracing microservices, Amazon did this to accelerate the pace at which they could innovate and to better scale as they grow. Looking at successful companies such as Amazon, they are at their heart service-driven. The services they build quickly become a nervous system for these companies to react and adapt more quickly to a changing landscape. As companies continue to break apart their monoliths and services get more distributed, we’ll see the journey from one service to thousands repeated. As monoliths themselves, legacy API management solutions are born centralized and do not work as well in decentralized scenarios.
The Future of Architecture
So, if API management must evolve into something new, what does the platform of the future look like? What solution can support our architecture as we transform from simple and centralized to complex and distributed? The answer is a new category for the future of intelligent architecture — the service control platform.
The service control platform intelligently brokers information across all services. Instead of simply transferring information from Point A to Point B, it will understand the information and make intelligent decisions for what to with it. Regardless of the environment, deployment pattern, language, or transport method used, this new platform will support it. Additionally, since it sits at the nexus of all communication, it can act intelligently on the traffic. Leveraging advanced AI, security and governance capabilities, the service control platform transforms dumb endpoints into a network of intelligent services. Like a high-performing air traffic controller, this will allow a company’s services to better adapt to changes and threats without disruption or damage.
Not Another SOA Fantasy
If you’re reading this and thinking that it sounds like SOA all over again, you’re not completely wrong. We are building towards what SOA dreamed of but could not execute because of one fundamental truth — the SOA movement was driven by vendors. However, the service revolution today is driven by developers and previously unavailable open source tooling.
As I said at our Summit last week, being open source is no longer an advantage — it’s the baseline. The future will be built by developers, and open source companies will provide the tooling needed to make those services successful. The emerging service control platform frees developers from rigid infrastructure so that they can use the right tool for the job — today, tomorrow and into the future.