DevOps / Sponsored

What Comes with API Ubiquity?

2 Jul 2014 2:25pm, by

Editor’s Note: APIs are evolving and becoming part of the fabric of what defines a platform.

API ubiquity is, without a doubt, coming. We’ve rehashed the factors driving this phenomenon any number of times. It’s the devices that use APIs and the data we create and deliver through APIs. Everything will need an API, or at least require some way to communicate with other programs and devices.

In show 6 of The New Stack Analysts, I sat down with Apigee’s Sam Ramji and New Relic’s Frederic Paul and talked about the way platforms and ecosystems are now being used. We discussed what defines a technology or business platform and how each compares to a brand developing an experience through its API management and partner ecosystem.

It seems at times that the API discussion is getting a little played out. But it’s not if the concept of human APIs enters the story. It’s not if self-driving cars are part of the discussion. That’s the thing about API development. It has taken a long time to get to this point, so that now we can talk about Walgreens using APIs to drive foot traffic in its stores. There were APIs, but the management was pretty much misunderstood and the technical hurdles were a barrier.There were lessons to be learned. For example, changing an API without telling anyone is really not a good idea.  Technically, there are developments such as  Swagger, an open standard for describing REST APIs with JSON.

The stories I’ve written over the years looked at the newest developments in APIs and how they related to the app boom. Recently, we’ve observed the need for a DevOps culture that connects apps and back-end systems in an automated manner. There are developments that show the deeper need for networking decoupled from hardware to create a software layer that delivers the network to the app rather than the app to the network. APIs are critical in that next-generation infrastructure.

Developers are composing new stacks to make things faster, easier to build, and simpler for anyone to use. It’s now about connecting end points. Those end points act as a network on top of a platform that might provide an experience for a customer or support for an emerging technology that needs an ecosystem, such as partners for Walgreens or developers for Docker. Integrating metadata and automating the process is important so that the experience meets expectations.

The technical underpinning has to come first for these new platforms. The Docker technology is emerging with the help of the ecosystem. But it’s not yet a business platform—the technology is still under development. Facebook is an experience platform. It offers the incentive of becoming part of the Facebook community, but underneath is a sophisticated infrastructure and deep API services environment.

Today, with the advent of platforms and ecosystems, marketing is less important. Great performance and extensive and clearly written documentation—that’s what matters most as platforms and ecosystems become the foundation for doing business.

Thanks to New Relic and Apigee, two founding sponsors of The New Stack who sponsored this week’s show, and thanks to New Relic for the use of their studio to do this recording of The New Stack Analysts.

Feature image via Flickr Creative Commons.

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