An API Renaissance Period in the Cloud

Michael Vizard
Oct. 30 2012, 12:00AM EDT

One of the more frustrating things about using business applications is they invariably impose some form of workflow that is baked into software. Vendors have long argued that these workflows are essentially amalgamations of best practices that the vendor has painstakingly aggregated while researching and developing the application.

The trouble is that when it comes to workflow in general and business process specifically, one size rarely fits all. Unfortunately, the industry has been proselytizing software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications that while being comparatively simple to invoke tended to constrain the way an organization could address a specific process. Over time, however, more organizations have come to recognize that liability because it essentially limits their options in terms of business process innovation. What they really want is all the convenience of SaaS delivered in a way that still gives them the maximum amount of flexibility possible. In fact, it’s that very need that is leading to a Renaissance period for APIs in the enterprise.

A good example of that Renaissance comes in the form of CloudWork, a service that IT organizations can use to integrate diverse set of cloud applications. Provided by Nubera, which manages GetApp.com, one of the largest independent cloud application marketplaces, CloudWork leverages a standard set of APIs to integrate business processes and workflows across SaaS application such as Google Apps, Zoho, Dropbox, Capsule CRM, Zendesk, Freshbooks, MailChimp, Evernote and Twitter. CloudWork is based on a cloud platform that Nubera gained via the acquisition of Tarpipe.

According to Nubera CEO Christophe Primault, businesses clearly want a simple way to easily mash up data between these applications. Within that same framework, they also want a mechanism through which they can control who in the organization has access to what cloud application. Right now, there are services for managing cloud applications and services for integrating clouds, but none of them have integrated both functions as of yet.

Organizations of all sizes are getting more comfortable with mashups across SaaS applications with each and every passing day. Instead of having to rely on expensive developers, many of these mashups can be created by experienced application users. What’s important about those mashups is that they allow a business user to gain critical insights into processes by first being able to compare one set of data against another and then integrating those data sets to drive an innovative business process.

It’s still relatively early days in terms of driving mashups in the cloud. But the one thing that is for certain is that as more business users become increasingly comfortable with multiple cloud applications, it’s only a matter of time before APIs transform how innovative business processes proliferate across the enterprise.

Michael Vizard

Comments

Comments(5)

steve

I've seen a couple of these integration SaaS applications. There's definitely a market for them as the only way to use an API before was to be a developer, or hire one. It not only makes combining the most common business processes easier, but it's a huge marketing opportunity for undiscovered applications. I could see niche API applications opening up. The only downfall is you need an account for each SaaS you are integrating; however if you already use most of them then this doesn't really matter.

brad

@Steve, I completely agree. A combined API ecosystem using industry-standard integration will hopefully be on the horizon, but that would require all the biggest players to get together, and they're currently at each other's throats.

Businesses need a way to take their existing workflow and make it more efficient, faster, and cheaper than before. As mentioned above, they do not need a new workflow forced upon them; it's just a headache all around.

There are some newer SaaS systems that are providing a lot more flexibility, but we have a long way to go.