Bringing Things Together: Why Companies Are Revving Up Their API Strategies


Bringing Things Together: Why Companies Are Revving Up Their API Strategies

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  August 10, 2016

Businesses, as we all by now know, are undergoing a digital transformation. The recent news that Ford (News - Alert) has invested more than $182 million in Pivotal Software is further evidence of this trend.

Pivotal is a San Francisco-based company that sells tools that make it faster and easier to build software. Not only does this deal give the automotive giant a stake in this cloud-based software company, it also provides Ford with better access to its engineering staff. Part of the deal involves Ford and Pivotal engineers working together in open labs in the U.S. and Europe.

“While Pivotal does not make the software at the heart of self-driving car technology, Ford chief executive Mark Fields said he expected benefits from the partnership to flow to all product-development and information-technology teams at Ford, including those working on autonomous cars,” Reuters reports.

That report also notes that Microsoft (News - Alert) is also investing in Pivotal, whose tools are popular with developers using Oracle’s Java technology, and that General Electric, EMC Corp., and VMware are also Pivotal investors.

All of this points not just to the trend of digital transformation, but also to the fact that developers are now at a premium. So companies want to leverage tools and technologies that can expedite software development and integration whenever possible.

Application programming interfaces are a popular means of building software bridges to more easily enable that integration. That is part of the reason so many well-known companies are so interested in working with – and investing in – Pivotal.

On the Pivotal website you can find a page that talks about how developing mobile applications involves integrating with multiple backend systems and data stores, many of which are not optimized for mobile application use and lack the proper APIs or deliver too much data for mobile consumption. Pivotal goes on to explain that an API gateway can be used to address that by allowing for easy development, deployment, and operation; exposing a channel-optimized API from back-end apps and data stores; and transforming and aggregating data from multiple sources.

Indeed, we’re hearing about the importance of APIs from multiple players and on a variety of fronts.

At the recent All About the API event, Microsoft announced that it has open sourced its REST API Guidelines. As TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) reported, “these guidelines represent a multi-year, cross-company, collaborative process aggregating the collective experience of hundreds of engineers designing, operating, and running global scale cloud services from across Microsoft; and listening to feedback on its APIs from customers and partners.” The guidelines aim to further stimulate feedback on the company’s APIs and approach to building them to better serve customers and help Microsoft contribute to the API design community from which it’s already benefitted.

Also at the Las Vegas event in July, Temasys announced the general availability of the Skylink Platform. This solution gives developers access to a vast assortment of APIs, SDKs, and tools to power the next generation of real-time communications within apps and web services, as Alicia Young reported.

All About the API keynote speaker Davide Petramela of Zang told Tehrani at the event that his company (Zang/Avaya) wants to “double-down on the concept of open APIs and make development as easy as possible.” He also talked about the idea of line-of-business owners developing apps. And he mentioned how it’s now possible to leverage APIs to easily add meeting room capabilities to popular enterprise solutions such as Salesforce.

In his keynote Petramela said: "The next level of innovation in the digital economy is driven by the ability to embed communications right into cloud-based applications. Zang is on the forefront, with dramatically simple tools and APIs that enable developers and designers to build their vision in a heartbeat."

Speaking of customer experience and APIs, CRM giant Salesforce was a pioneer on the API front. Indeed, the company was able to use APIs as a way to incentivize other software companies to integrate with its SaaS offering by making it relatively easy to do so. It worked. Today Salesforce is recognized as having one of the strongest ecosystems in the software space.

As I discussed in the October 2015 cover story of INTERNET TELEPHONY, API used to be a term reserved only for the most esoteric conversations at tech companies. But now everybody from Adidas and Aspect to Campbell’s Soup and Ford is using APIs.

In fact, Forrester (News - Alert) Research has called the application programming interface the poster child of digital transformation.

“APIs are proliferating at enterprises making industry-leading investments in mobile, IoT, and big data,” Michael Yamnitsky wrote in a Forrester Research (News - Alert) blog.

Gartner believes that half of all business-to-business collaboration will take place through web APIs by 2017, and that by 2018 three-fourths of Fortune 1000 firms will offer public web APIs.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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