APIs – The Next Evolution of Service Oriented Architecture

Talk technology trends today and you cannot complete the sentence without referring to SCM [Social, Cloud and Mobile]. These three domains have changed the way businesses use technology. In this blog series I will focus on the fourth key emerging area in the technology space – APIs – the foundation on which the Social, Cloud and Mobile revolution gains more adoption. In this blog entry I take a look at the evolution path of what is called API Management today.

Remember the SOA books or articles in early 2000. The most common picture I saw in every book –Provider, Client and UDDI [Yes, I still remember that acronym]. I refer to that era as SOA 1.0. The buzzword was ‘Web Services’. The standards (WS-*) were still evolving, the big technology vendors – IBM, ORACLE, TIBCO were still struggling to get  mature tools and products to market and enterprises were still trying to understand this value proposition of services.

Then came the age of SOA 2.0 – the standards were formalized, interoperability was achieved, ESB was no longer a pattern – it was a product, it was no longer about Web Services – it was all about a disciplined approach called Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the new buzzword was “Governance” – UDDI was gone and an Enterprise Services Registry & Repository became the norm. However SOA 2.0 focused more on the Enterprise – services were more for internal consumption or to be consumed with key business partners outside the enterprise.

The innovation that changed the SOA world again did not happen at IBM or at TIBCO or at ORACLE – it happened first in Apple [iOS App Platform] and then at Google [Android] – The World was now Mobile and the new buzzword was ‘App’. Millions and Millions of developers who build mobile apps entered the ecosystem and they needed a standard way to access data and logic. Enterprises saw this as an opportunity to get into new business models to generate new revenues by tapping into these developers who could build new applications for the capabilities that an enterprise already provided. However they needed a standardized way for the development community that was completely outside their control to interact with their services. The world of SOA could no longer be confined to the walls of the enterprise – ‘It had to go public’.

Enter API Management and Welcome to SOA 3.0

While the acronym API is as old as technology itself, in today’s world, API Management is about publishing and promoting the core business capabilities of an enterprise as publicly available services. The intent of doing this is to allow the vast development community out there to consume them in a secure and scalable manner and use them to build new applications that will bring new business and revenue models for both the provider and the consumer of the API.

In the next set of blog entries on this topic, I will delve more into the key features of an API platform, the competitive landscape and will focus the IBM API Management Platform to build an end to end API Solution.

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