APIs are big on the Internet, and I mean that literally and figuratively. Let’s face it, for the past year, APIs have been king when it comes to moving services in the cloud or on mobile.
It’s hard to imagine that APIs could become even bigger, but that’s what some are predicting. And by some, I specifically mean API management vendors.
“Even with all the talk of the API Economy, many IT organizations neglected the capabilities of APIs,” Roberto Medrano, SOA Software executive vice president, writes in a recent blog post. “Call it the ‘Big Wake Up,’ perhaps, but there are dramatic efforts being made to ensure that organizations use the tools at their disposal to leverage cloud and mobile to create ecosystems of stakeholders.”
And what’s causing that ‘Big Wake Up?’ Money, or at least the potential to mine social data and other Big Data sets for previously untapped opportunities.
A recent Dataversity article offers some specific examples of how APIs and data can be combined as a new revenue stream. Let’s say you’re a Big Box vendor, such as Wal-Mart or Target, and you decide to share consumer information with your business partners. You can make that data available through API and sell up-to-date access to those partners, explains Tony Fisher, the vice president of data collection and integration at Progress.
Progress also offers an API management tool, by the way.
Even if you’re not a Big Box retailer, you can still win with APIs. Another Fisher example: Let’s say you’re an auctioneer with an A-list of wealthy potential clients. You could pair APIs and Big Data to monitor any tweets these people might send about moving or relocating.
The point is, in 2014, you won’t have to worry about finding a use case for integration via APIs, because most likely, one will find you.
“From security-related providers like SkyHigh and Adallom, to application migration services like AppZero, if it’s traditionally been deployed as a data center appliance, you can likely find it ‘as-a-service,’” Lori MacVittie writes in a recent Information Week column. “These offerings share a common theme: an API.”
Don’t be fooled by the mere existence of an API, warns MacVittie, senior product manager for Emerging Technologies at F5 Networks. You need to ensure that API will perform and, to do that, she recommends you ask five questions, which I have summarized:
- How will we integrate data into our existing operational services, and can we then leverage that data? “Ask: Will the format work with the internal systems we need the service to work with? Can we use data generated by the provider without a lot of internal gymnastics?” she recommends. “That’s imperative to determining whether the service is worth the price or not.”
- How often are the APIs changed and deprecated? APIs change and API calls deprecate and disappear. Make sure you know what might trigger a change and how it will be handled.
- What is the process for changing or deprecating an API?
- Does the provider use standards for access and identity?
- What are the limits on API use and what do you anticipate your usage to be?
“Many an organization has been bitten by hitting limits on API usage that IT didn’t realize existed,” she warns. “Investigate (or just outright ask) about quotas and how the provider enforces them.”
If you plan to use APIs either for profit or for service, take the time to read her full column to find out all the gotchas. After all, we don’t want 2015 to be the year the API economy fell apart.