All of us are familiar with SOA -- exposing applications, or application components -- so that new apps and new processes can be written by reusing existing functionality. And we are all familiar with APIs, a set of (sometimes language specific bindings) that allow new apps to be written utilizing these bindings (windows APIs for example).
However, the new world of APIs is the world of SOA brought to the end app developers -- often outside the firewalls of the organization. And that means that many of the SOA concepts have to become accessible -- frictionless app creation is de jure. Every enterprise has a core business -- Gamespy is in gaming platform, Netflix is in video and movie delivery, Sears is in retailing. Attracting more transactions into the core business is *the* new growth model, or should be. Traditional methods have attracted people to the "web front", and with hopes that that translates to more core transactions.
However, there is a movement -- mobile apps! The more mobile apps that tie in the enterprise's core business, the more transactions will flow through and more the monetization will happen. However, there are two problems that need to be solved for this to happen...
- When's the last time you have liked a mobile app that only took you to the "web front?" Exactly. So you want a direct connection between a mobile app and the backend systems' APIs that will fulfill those requests. Which means that this is likely to make the IT managers groan -- the systems were designed for carefully managed class of applications, and now every Tom, Dick and Harry is going to pound on it? Help. Mediate, cache, rate control, block, protect these calls.
- However gorpy the backend APIs are (and having written a few of these gorpy ones myself), they have to be made "accessible", i.e. brain dead simple to use. Monetization will come not from charging for using the APIs but from the business that the API use generates! Which means that RESTification is a pre-req, but it does not stop there. The whole process of using the APIs has to become frictionless.
So there you have it -- the providers need some guarantees that popularity of their APIs will not kill them and the developers want the whole process of using a providers APIs to be frictionless. That is what makes for a great API platform.
And that is what we at Apigee are doing!