2018 API economy and management trends

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API economy management and trendsThis year IBM was a sponsor of API World, one of the largest application programming interface (API) conferences in the world, and we had a great opportunity to both deliver and learn first-hand the major trends and initiatives on the minds of API professionals working to solve real business problems. As someone who has been with IBM since we first launched our API management platform many years ago, it was great to hear from thought leaders and geek out about APIs for a week.

API trends and new products

The expo area was really exciting. It was a great experience talking to people, asking them where they are in their API journey and what their pain points are. Many people who came to our booth were curious about multicloud integration. More and more companies are recognizing that the API economy is something they can’t afford to miss. In fact, a major theme in the expo was products that now offer APIs for integration with their platform. By opening their services to partners and other third parties, these companies can tap into external innovation and make their platform extensible by those third parties, all of which stands to drive revenue and growth.

While there were lots of great vendors and products at API World, there are a few that especially caught my attention. These companies have taken initiative and turned their API strategy into a great opportunity for their business.

  • Contentful provides content infrastructure for digital teams to power websites, apps and devices. They do this with an API-first approach that enables features and capabilities that would otherwise not be possible.
  • HERE, an open location platform company, provides access to its data and services through APIs, enabling location-centric intelligence for their customers. Their success has led to them being recognized as one of the top location and mapping platforms.

New tech worth watching: Istio and GraphQL

Judging by the chatter from the conference and the feedback from our own API experts, Istio and GraphQL are two big developments that will further propel the management and proliferation of APIs. Istio is an open-source project that IBM, along with a lot of other industry players, is working on to develop a platform-independent service that provides traffic management, policy enforcement and telemetry collection.

The combination of an API management solution for its traditional capabilities and Istio to manage the business logic execution uses each technology for what it does best. Istio will allow organizations to dive into microservice management and fully utilize the power of Kubernetes with no-code solutions. IBM API Connect will soon be able to use the power of Istio and couple it with API management to allow customers to take advantage of all that microservice management has to offer (including A/B testing, tracing, routing and mesh security) and enhance API Connect’s impact by bringing key concepts “into the mesh.”

GraphQL is technically not a new technology, but it has achieved a lot of popularity for controlling API proliferation. An API developer will likely need to serve multiple types of consumers, each requiring different data out of the back-end systems. Rather than building multiple APIs or trying to guess what data the requester needs, GraphQL allows the requester to specify what data they want returned. This does add complexity to calling the API, but it is a valuable trade off that allows for more tailored responses, reducing the number of APIs needed, and overall improving the user experience.

Following the conference, IBM announced the launch of OASGraph, an open source engine that translates APIs described by OpenAPI specifications into GraphQL interfaces. REST and GraphQL will co-exist, allowing API developers to choose the appropriate tool for the job required. We intend to help developers quickly and easily realize this with OASGraph.

Learn more about the API economy

API:World 2018 was a valuable experience. We had a great time learning from the community and sharing our vision for the API economy. Discover the API economy and test your company readiness.

Learn more about IBM API Connect, our complete foundation to create, run, manage and secure APIs, and sign-up for a trial version.

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