Do you have an API Strategy in mind when developing SaaS and Mobile software?
By Marco Roman, Business Development Manager at e-Core
Marcelo Pacheco, Team Lead at e-Core, contributed to this article
It is not news that Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are changing the world of digital business. Connecting software previously stand-alone into an interconnected network of applications thus enabling new business opportunities and technical strategies APIs are, ultimately, a fundamental piece of technology companies are using to provide relevant digital services to users across many industries
I was reading this interesting article from HBR last week which basically describes how more companies are exposing internal services and functions though APIs. It describes how some companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Salesforce.com and others are taking full advantage of this approach by building a framework around their systems and exposing integration points that others can explore and how it can become a competitive strategy for expanding the penetration into new opportunities. There are even companies building their business model with focus on integrating well known applications through their APIs such as Zapier while others are building platforms such as apigee, 3scale, mashape to enable business to monetize APIs.
This reminded me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a Team Lead at e-Core when he mentioned briefly about an exciting new project that his team was working on which was basically developing an API for mobile apps.
For this particular project the nearshore team had to start the development of an API that would provide a set of functions and enable the development of mobile applications and its integration with the events social platform his team has been developing. To do so they started looking for a solution that would help on the following needs:
- Provide a comprehensive API access control depending of established contracts
- Speed up the development as well scale the solution as need
- Easily create developer portal/API documentation for API developers
- Monitor and manage API usage (which interfaces, which consumers, which calls were made more frequently, number of concurrent calls, scalability, etc.)
After researching about the available technology they decided to use 3scale, an API Management platform which provided the team with most of their requirements and allowed them to focus on designing and implementing the core of API. Among the benefits of this approach, the team lead said that ”Using a service like 3scale helped the team to focus on what really matters, designing and implementing the API, leaving all API management (monitoring, control points, scalability) to the service. It is really a matter of speeding up the overall development.”
Among the challenges faced the biggest one was definitely moving from a legacy environment which was not prepared for APIs to a more modern one with new technology to enable APIs and new design patterns brought by this new perspective. Internally dogfooding the API while developing it played an important role on implementing the solution. The project, currently in beta, is expected to be released by the end of the year.
While is true that not all companies have a massive demand for integration today most software development companies, with a special mention to SaaS and Mobile software players, can benefit from using cloud services and APIs as a competitive element in their strategy and add new revenue streams previously not considered. Additionally this move could enable companies to 1) acquire new business partners or 2) increase brand awareness that ultimately can lead to future growth. An interesting article by Axway on API adoption states that according to Forrester Research: “Mobile and social commerce opportunities are the likely first ways in which these APIs will be leveraged, but touch points such as marketplace integration, embedded commerce ads, in-store digital signage, mobile point of sale (mPOS), and call center applications, among others, will soon be common ways that businesses use these APIs.” (1)
We’d love to hear more about how your team or company have worked on similar projects or are planning to implement exciting new projects on top of APIs.
1”Selecting Tools That Enable Agility,” Forrester Research, Inc., March 26, 2013.
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