InstantAPI Expected to Open in July, Public Beta Invites Signups

Mark Boyd
May. 27 2014, 03:36PM EDT

InstantAPI promises to let developers create an API “in minutes.” Developers are currently signing up to the beta release to experiment, while Founder Scott Ling has plans for a API-as-a-service version to meet enterprise needs. He spoke to ProgrammableWeb about the InstantAPI roadmap.

"InstantAPI lets you use an easy to use interface to instantly create an API by exposing your datastores,” says Scott Ling, CEO and Founder of InstantAPI.

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Currently in public beta, the service is seeing rapid signup amoung developers wanting to experiment with the platform. Ling estimates that when they move to General Availability (GA) in July, “we will probably have at least 2,000 APIs active by that point.”

InstantAPI lets developers identify a data source and create an API on top of that. Additional features include automated user documentation, and a landing page that is automatically created to let customers start signing up developers to their API.

For the enterprise, Ling is expecting InstantAPI to find traction amongst those companies who do not have a team of internal developers, but are finding they need to offer ways letting partners to integrate with their data stores.

“Big retail is already providing product data and price comparison,” says Ling, pointing to the need for smaller players to compete by offering an API for their product databases as well.

Referencing a recent article on GovTech, Ling also sees the potential for government to speed up their open data strategies by using InstantAPI: “Data.gov and health.gov are mandated to provide data in machine-readable format so InstantAPI can make this possible.”

For potential future government and enterprise use, a backend-as-a-service offering is being planned for the July GA rollout.

“Most companies collect lots of data that end up being trapped in the business and leaving them without being able to monetize that data. With InstantAPI, once you have configured your backend, your API will be ready for use,” Ling confirms.

“We will have two security approaches available for the enterprise. The first is a VM proxy. It is a small VM that can be installed within cloud environment that acts as a gateway between the business and us. The proxy talks to the database, and it has its own encryption, so we don’t actually talk to the database directly.

“The second security option is a fully-hosted version that can be run by the customer. It is totally managed within the enterprise’s infrastructure, we only check the licensing arrangements for using InstantAPI with their infrastructure.”

The enterprise BaaS offering will allow user access levels to be set to maintain control over who gets to access and use the API. Ling notes that enterprises can start with making the API available for internal use and move to partner or third-party access when there is a monetization argument to be made: “It is as simple as throwing a switch to swap from partner to public, and authorization is part of our publishing toolkit.”

For developers who want to use InstantAPI to begin their API journey, service lock-in could be a significant impediment for future scaling. While Ling insists the product is “designed for scale in mind”, API providers will need to use the InstantAPI platform and will need to use the user documentation and analytics tools provided rather than host the code themselves and choose which API management tools they want.

A business “can’t move code to their servers, we only generate API client code. That said, the option of hosting a locked VM version of our platform in-house gives them more control and ownership. We generate documentation (with a little hand holding), for analytics, we have basics built-in with more coming. Basically, they need to either run an InstantAPI Instance in their network/hosting or use our fully hosted version which starts from $30 a year.”

The lock-in may not be an issue for the non-technical audience that InstantAPI is seeking to service. Ling sees the service as sitting “in the middle between APISpark — where you still need to be technical to use it — and code-based API builders.”

Interested developers can sign up for public beta access now.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities. I can be contacted via email, on Twitter, or on Google+.

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