The New Year is fast approaching and it’s time for some wild, speculative predictions on API Management for 2014. As I mentioned in earlier posts, the space is has been rapidly maturing over the second half of 2013 with larger vendors such as IBM, Tibco and Intel making big moves. In Q3, 2013 Gartner sized the standalone API management market for 2013 at about $100M (70MM in 2012 with 40% expected growth).
The total market size as estimated here may seem small but this market intersects with the more traditional, and larger ($474M in 2012), SOA governance market because API management products both complement SOA governance and act as substitutes. The growth and success of API management programs, both public and internal, cause Enterprises to look at how they were handling their existing non-managed SOAP & REST APIs. This second look raises questions about how APIs and interfaces might be better managed in the future, especially when you have to address new demands and channels such as different screen types, developer communities, customers, partners, and devices. So what will 2014 bring? Here are my six API management predictions for 2014.
- SOA will reincarnate itself or die a second time – Services are alive and well and service orientation has reached the plateau of productivity, but unless Enterprises find a way to socialize APIs locked up in their existing SOA governance systems, these incumbent products will be quickly passed over in favor of new ways of sharing APIs – a simple developer portal. This services evangelism race is about marketing interfaces to developers and at the starting line developer portals are the Tesla Model S and SOA registry/repositories are the U-Haul. One vehicle you want to drive and the other you drive only when you have to. If you don’t believe me, try searching a UDDI directory and compare that experience to this. The prediction here is that traditional SOA governance solutions will evolve to compete on experiences and improved sharing of API metadata or die trying.
- Internal API management will be the silent killer app – We have seen quote after quote this year from Netflix, and Programmable Web that Internal API management, which translates into a shared services layer for use by internal applications, is one of the largest, albeit hidden use cases. For newcomers to the space peppered with exciting stories of public and open developer programs, this is a shock, but only because internal API management programs aren’t advertised. The prediction here is that your company is probably already running with hundreds of internal APIs that lack management, are difficult to discover and document, and hard to use by internal developers, existing applications and partners. API management opportunities are likely under your nose in the form of exposing these APIs outside or helping your organization share data internally more efficiently.
- Mobile enablement will lead the way – APIs expose data to mobile devices. Without them, all of the ‘app’ experiences we have on tablets and smart-phones would be silo’d. Think back to the days of PC computing before modems or the Internet. That is what an app would be like without an API today. Almost every Enterprise we talk to has a mobile strategy that involves moving traditional IT services to an API layer to make new experiences available to their employees, powered by APIs. The prediction here is that second to internal use, mobile enablement will drive the use of API management and security for external interfaces in 2014.
- Security concerns will take center stage – As screen types proliferate, Enterprises will need a strategy and approach for API security that covers more than just enabling “OAuth”. As internal systems participate in API management, a security layer will be needed to decouple perimeter defense, denial of service protection, JSON attack protection, compliance, authentication, authorization and message level security. Otherwise, the ability for an Enterprise to scale its APIs externally will be limited by number of security developers and their expertise in the myriad middleware systems and programming languages in use at the Enterprise. The prediction here is that in order to scale their API management programs Enterprises will need to implement an API governance and delivery tier, whether on-premise or in the cloud – done with or without a vendor product.
- IoT could be a bull in the china shop – IoT promises a vision of Wireless sensor networks and low powered devices becoming part of the Industrial Internet. Once enabled, data from sensors could and eventually be exposed through APIs. If sensor data converges on REST (or SOAP) as the final consolidation point demand for API management could skyrocket beyond what we have seen to date, possibly altering the Gartner market size estimates in a big way.
- API management will be a journey – In 2014, API management will evolve to a suite or platform approach, rather than point tools and the vendor or vendors that can best easily fit into a heterogeneous environment with flexible products will be best positioned to compete. Here is what the journey might look like: Enterprises can start anywhere with API management – some may begin with an open developer program, move to internal API management and then eventually deploy API management in a hybrid architecture. Or, some Enterprises may start only with internal API management and devise a business case and marketing plan for long-tail exposure of their products through an open API developer program. Whenever they start, API management will be an enabler of a particular business model, either driving down costs or providing new sources of value.