The proliferation of mobile tools and bring your own device policies is underscoring the importance of application programming interfaces (APIs) to businesses, developers, and solution providers. APIs deliver an array of benefits from simplified access to application functionality for developers and easier analytics to data portability and agile development. The IT infrastructure is quickly adopting APIs to fuel internal and commercial app development.
This growing demand is good news for Apigee, a provider of API technology and services for enterprises and developers. Its clients include eBay, Netflix, and Gilte Group. Greg Brail, chief technology officer of Apigee, told me that it offers developers a cloud-hosted solution and on-site software that sits between the people who use the API and the team that produces it. And even though Apigee traditionally has focused on selling directly to large organizations, its sales model is evolving, he said.
Our bread and butter is API providers -- the direct enterprise sale -- from midsize to the largest companies in the world. They get everything from us, from actually buying the technology to helping make API a reality to consulting on our technology to general consulting. In some instances, we help them design their API, and in some cases, we help with their general API strategy.
Apigee has free services that helps companies analyze, test, and debug APIs. Its free API consoles help developers and solution providers work with and test APIs such as Twitter, Facebook, PayPal, and Salesforce. The fee-based Apigee Enterprise, available in on-premises or hosted varieties, includes security, scalability, compliance, mediation, analytics, policy management, and developer community tools.
Increasingly, enterprises want to build APIs that support employees' multiple mobile devices -- iPads, notebooks, Android and Apple smartphones, and now (perhaps) tablets from Google and Amazon. "The days of the corporate VPN are coming to a close," Brail said, and consumer devices like gaming systems are also becoming part of the collaborative communications mix.
Likewise, solution providers are more involved with APIs -- whether writing them for clients or developing them for internal use. Apigee works with general business and global solution providers, and Brail said some vertical market VARs could succeed in APIs, depending on the industry they target. Telecommunications companies, for example, are heavy API users. They are trying to discover ways to monetize their networks, and they want to empower companies to build apps on these networks.
A VAR in the telco market has a lot of places to go. Anyone involved in media or online video has APIs. I mean, it was interesting. One of our first sets of customers was involved in the email marketing industry. There were six or seven of them, and they all got an API. They were a fairly new industry. They didn't have a legacy system to deal with. I think the really interesting thing is when industries come together and build some standards. Telcos have come together already, and we're just starting to see travel APIs. We're just starting to see connected car APIs. I think APIs are going mainstream, but it's different in different industries.
For employees, APIs should deliver simplified processes. They're deceptively easy, Brail said, and IT or solution providers must delve deep into both API technologies and the enterprise's business challenge. "The challenge for the solution provider is to help the customer design an API strategy that works for them and then implement it." An insurance company may want to move from a terminal-based process to a claims process that employees complete via smartphone, tablet, or notebook by accessing an application from the office or the field. Benefits can include improved customer service, an expanded workforce, extension of the brand, more marketing exposure, and increased revenue, he said.
By developing APIs, IT departments and solution providers can empower their organizations to embrace mobile devices easily and productively, regardless of their vertical. Now that's a great way to keep business moving forward.