Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Destiny Bertucci, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Amitabh Sinha

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
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, discussed how given the magnitude of today's application ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
As you move to the cloud, your network should be efficient, secure, and easy to manage. An enterprise adopting a hybrid or public cloud needs systems and tools that provide: Agility: ability to deliver applications and services faster, even in complex hybrid environments Easier manageability: enable reliable connectivity with complete oversight as the data center network evolves Greater efficiency: eliminate wasted effort while reducing errors and optimize asset utilization Security: imple...
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...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve f...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone in...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Services at NetApp, described how NetApp designed a three-year program of work to migrate 25PB of a major telco's enterprise data to a new STaaS platform, and then secured a long-term contract to manage and operate the platform. This significant program blended the best of NetApp’s solutions and services capabilities to enable this telco’s successful adoption of private cloud storage and launching ...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.