I read MuleSoft’s whitepaper The Rising Value of APIs: Predictions for 2016 today. Below are some of my thoughts from my own experiences in commercial software development.
IoT in 2016
I agree APIs will be the link between devices and digital services.
There is still a huge opportunity for the right developers to get involved in developing their business’s services with cloud and elasticity in mind. A lot of the software lifecycle in traditional companies I work with is still not taking advantage of cloud concepts. Cloud is a host container to them, not the lifecycle of the software they’re developing. These traditional companies will never be able to support IoT’s sheer magnitude unless they adopt the entire cloud lifecycle. Without modernizing the lifecycle they might breeze through development to fail when it is time to scale or when it’s time to deploy an update.
There’s very little testing or planning on how the scaling will actually take place. Does your business have a written plan for the process of scaling? For example, does an administrator need to adjust config files or is your software interacting with the cloud host platform and adjusting scale automatically? Whether you do it by hand or automatically, does your company have a written description of the specific order services should be scaled? Is your company writing software designed for failure? Many traditional companies still have failover environments that are probably half reliable because no one actively tests them, instead of individual nodes that can fail and the entire service keep running. Wrapping a traditional business IT system in a façade of APIs and running it on-prem or Azure won’t mean it has the reliability expected of cloud services.
One other example of how traditional companies deploy software vs how cloud business do is traditional companies deploy software by running servers and overwriting the website files on their existing server with the new copies. Cloud businesses use immutable deployments where they spin up a new instance of the VM or host container with the new version of software and then do a IP swap.
All of these practices are important to mature your organization to get to peak performance for delivering cloud services.
Rise of the API Economy
I agree with the whitepaper that companies will continue to open up APIs internally, but I’m not sure traditional companies will be the main ones opening APIs. I think companies should create more APIs and think about how to programmatically offer their capabilities and data instead of so heavily relying on only offering visual solutions like applications and reports.
It takes a certain digital-native type of company or a traditional company that has transformed to think deeply digital to understand how APIs are business related and not a developer rabbit hole. The current-state pattern I see for traditional companies is a heavy focus on UI, applications and ETL processes to import or export data. For example, traditional companies tend to have “report writers” to write SQL that shows results on a web page or PDF, but not many traditional companies have “API developers”. The smart traditional companies will move on to become innovative companies that make the digital transformation.