Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Ed Featherston, Rostyslav Demush, Jamie Madison, Jason Bloomberg, Greg Pierce

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @DXWorldExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Why You Need an API-First Strategy for the Cloud

An API-first strategy is the new business imperative of our time

Slide Deck from Sal Visca's Cloud Expo® Presentation: Business APIs in the Cloud

Everyone talks about a cloud-first or mobile-first strategy. It's the trend du jour, and for good reason as these innovative technologies have revolutionized an industry and made savvy companies a lot of money. But consider for a minute what's emerging with the Age of Context and the Internet of Things. Devices, interfaces, everyday objects are becoming endowed with computing smarts. This is creating an unprecedented focus on the Application Programming Interface (API) as developers seek to connect these devices and interfaces to create new supporting services and hybrids. I call this trend the move toward an API-first business model and strategy.

At Elastic Path we've been talking about API-first for a few years, and we believe it's really about opening up your system and recognizing that APIs are going to be the main point of contact for all digital businesses. An API-first strategy is the new business imperative of our time.

Unified APIs Drive Great Digital Experiences
Customers are increasingly using digital touchpoints to interact with brands every day. For example, a consumer might be discovering, researching, buying, managing, or contributing to products and services. As more brands make a complete shift to digital, both marketing and technology professionals have come to the realization that digital customer experience is both an urgent priority and a key growth factor.

This transition to digital is also sweeping IT organizations away from their traditional role as a cost center and supporting resource to being front and center as a driver of customer-facing innovation and growth. Although these roles are new to many IT executives, they are having a significant impact on how they think and act. Like their counterparts who report to the CMO, a great percentage of professionals who work for the CTO appreciate the strategic importance of a great digital customer experience.

In a recent commissioned study, Forrester Consulting found that two-thirds of survey respondents said that unifying platform capabilities into a consistent set of APIs will be the key to unleashing business growth and to delivering great digital experiences.

This belief in the value of unified APIs persists even when considering specific industry scenarios. Take ecommerce for example - a well-understood digital experience paradigm where multiple applications power a wide variety of touchpoints. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they believe that a unified service layer represents the best approach. When a more ambiguous use case is suggested - driving digital experiences from a content management, CEM, or DXM platform - a unified service layer against is the ideal strategy, with a majority of survey respondents continuing to favor it.

Unified APIs eliminate the challenges that are symptomatic of the big bottleneck. They are an ideal solution for companies that are striving for a great digital customer experience.

The Language of Business
Indeed, APIs are coming into the mainstream. I've been in this industry for more than 20 years and we've always had APIs in some form or another. There's always been a way to communicate between systems. From a technical perspective, what's changing now is really the protocols between systems and how they're improving. The APIs that developers are working with today are much more focused on what I call the "Language of Business." For example, if you want to build an application for a mobile device, a modern API can help you do that without you having to know all about the underlying back-end systems. All you need to do is focus on creating a great user experience.

At Elastic Path, we're trying to reinvent the API by focusing on the needs of the business and abstract away all of the back-end complexity. We're on a mission to develop a better API, which we call Cortex. We call it Cortex because it's an intelligent API. It's intelligent because it does something no other API does: Cortex completely decouples client applications from business platforms, yet enhances their ability to securely retrieve data and perform transactions. This breakthrough API technology gives designers, developers, and API consumers the unprecedented freedom they need to create unique digital experiences. Once abstracted, these resources - from any source - are linked together to generate Cortex Business APIs that securely project your unified services to the world.

Developers Matter
Developers are a big deal. It's the developers who are building apps and making money on the Apple App Store, the Google Play store, and other online marketplaces. All of a sudden, the developer is cool again (if you're a developer, you already knew this). And Elastic Path thinks that's a great thing. We're trying to enable and empower the API-first developer with powerful tools, such as Cortex.

But developers aren't superhuman. Often, they have to spend weeks learning how to use a specific API, teach their code how to communicate with a system, often without a guarantee of success. Developer productivity, it turns out, is a very significant priority. That's why I think developers need tools to build very rich, high-engaging applications without having to know a lot about an underlying system.

The cloud computing landscape also plays an important part in an API-first strategy. Deploying your API to the cloud enables a streamlined approach and central control. Consider this scenario: A developer writes a client application that calls an API that's hosted in the cloud environment, but that API goes off and reaches back behind the corporate firewall to get data that you were authorized to retrieve. Perhaps it hits a public database. What's happening is that the API is federated across multiple systems. This is a big change from the old days when a developer would be forced to know all of the specific ins and outs of a system, how the back-end functionality works. That antiquated method really put the onus on the developer to figure it all out. That's all changed now, thanks to cloud computing and API-first strategies. With APIs available in the cloud environment, it's much easier for the developer to access and aggregate back-end complexity.

Armed with an API-first strategy, we are going to see a whole new generation of business-focused developers who are not your traditional software developers. Imagine the innovation that will come when you can push this innovation to the edge and start to open up new types of business models. I think that's really going to bring some amazing innovation in the market.

More Stories By Sal Visca

Sal Visca is the Chief Technology Officer at Elastic Path Software. He has over 24 years of experience developing long-term technology strategies, understanding emerging markets and technologies, and bringing new consumer and business solutions to market. He is responsible for developing Elastic Path's long-term technology strategies and bringing new enterprise e-commerce solutions to market.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...