When it comes to APIs there’s no shortage of information or, for that matter, opinions. In the hopes of bringing some clarity to that discussion, 3Scale has launched API Alchemy, a portal through which developers and other interested parties can discover relevant API content that has been vetted by the API management platform provider.
3Scale CEO Steve Willmott says the driving force behind the creation of API Alchemy is to provide vendor-neutral resources that ultimately help developers minimize API mistakes. Examples of these mistakes include developers exposing too much of their internal data structure in their API or giving developers access to an API with no corresponding way to monetize their activity.
With interest in all things APIs at an all-time high, the relative maturity level of API business models remains fairly wide across different vertical industry segments. The publishing and e-commerce sectors, for example, have extensive business models that revolve around APIs. But more traditional industrial segments are steadily increasing API usage as well, Willmott says.
A lot of those organizations have made considerable investments in service-oriented architectures (SOA), and many of them view APIs as simple an extension of those architectures, says Willmott. But integration using SOA architectures, he notes, tends to be tightly coupled. RESTful APIs are intended to provide a more efficient way to loosely couple applications.
Although API Alchemy will primarily function as portal through which 3Scale will curate content, there will come a time when 3Scale will begin to contribute original content.
In the meantime, the API Economy continues to rapidly evolve. The challenge, says Willmott, is making sure API initiatives are tied to some strategic business goal that is related to either increasing the revenue stream around a core product or improving the overall customer experience. That focus is necessary to ensure that APIs don’t randomly break—largely because there is a community of partners that will quickly make their displeasure widely known if such a break occurs.
Ultimately, APIs are evolving into new digital channels that transform business models by extending the partner ecosystem that exists around any particular product or business. As such, APIs need to be treated as core extension of the business, rather than a developer experiment that too often winds up being more of a tactical distraction than a strategic business initiative.