Given the increasing dependencies that exist between applications these days, there is obviously a lot of interest with everything and anything to do with application programming interfaces.
For the most part, APIs are not very robust. They tend to be afterthoughts, not update very often and the quality of the code is often suspect. All that obviously needs to change if we’re going to build digital economies based on APIs.
The folks at Salesforce.com have taken particular note of this issue in the form of a new streaming API approach to data integration that eliminates the need to rely on middleware. According to Mike Rosenbaum, senior vice president for platform operations and AppExchange at Salesforce.com, a developer only has to identify the data they wish to make available using a streaming API that can then be invoked directly by another application.
Salesforce is relying on this approach to better integrate software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications with mobile computing applications that can essentially now treat any portion of the SaaS application as though it were a continuous data feed. The summer 2012 release of Salesforce.com also has all kinds of other hooks for integrating applications, including a schema builder for integrating with cloud databases via REST APIs and access to APIs that connect directly to the Chatter social media function within the CRM application. In addition, Salesforce.com now features native support for geo-location fields in database.com.
Of course, all this starts to beg the question: What is the difference between a SaaS platform that can easily customized and extended and a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering where developers build applications? Rosenbaum concedes that the difference between the two is starting to narrow with the ultimate goal being the creation of a richer cloud ecosystem.
As a result, the actual point of entry into that ecosystem, says Rosenbaum, should become less important over time as the APIs that drive it become increasingly more flexible and robust.