Promoting Your API Brand: An Interview with WSO2

Wendell Santos
Nov. 01 2013, 06:08PM EDT

As the API economy continues to grow and mature, one of the challenges that will continue to face businesses is how to get their APIs noticed. ProgrammableWeb currently lists over 10,000 APIs, and as enterprises embrace APIs and connected devices become even more prevalent, that number will only continue to grow. During last week's API Strategy and Practice conference, Chris Haddad, VP of Technology Evangelism at WSO2, took time to chat with ProgrammableWeb about his company's strategy for opening channels of discovery and monetization through API branding.

"Currently, there are about two connected devices for every person on the planet. Each device has an API. There are billions of API endpoints. The question then is, 'How do I promote my message as a developer? How do I stand out?'" Haddad believes that the way a company chooses to brand its API can influence discoverability and, in turn, adoption. "Directories don't scale," said Haddad. "What builds a brand is reputation and perception. A company has to ask themselves, 'Am I offering a commodity product or an exclusive product?'"

Haddad explained that branding is the first step in a cycle that includes building mindshare, increasing visibility, fostering discoverability and onward until the overall perception of the brand is enhanced. Businesses often have two directions they can go when branding their API: commodity or exclusivity. The commodity route includes low adoption barriers and high ease of use. The exclusivity route is based on the API providing a high level of value--oftentimes one that is unique in the marketplace.

When asked how the WSO2 API Manager can help businesses with their branding, Haddad pointed to the example of StubHub. A subsidiary of eBay, StubHub uses the API Manager to offer APIs and a developer portal to promote the use of more than 1 billion transactions a day. The API Manager has functionality that allows StubHub to strip down a developer portal and then reskin it. According to Haddad, API Manager lets StubHub "create a brand and tailor it to the audience. [It's] the only on-premise API platform that allows you to tailor the look and feel."

The API management space is a crowded one, however, with competitors making news on a daily basis. The API Manager is the only open-source API management platform out. When asked what advantages this offers to customers, Haddad offered the following:

  • Open source has inherent value--if it breaks, it is onsite so developers can look into it directly
  • The ability to readily adopt code bases of smaller companies
  • Enables WSO2 to take the best of current solutions and rapidly innovate (built on Apache Cassanda, Hadoop and Hive)
  • Cloud-native
  • Enterprise-ready: "Tomcat doesn't play nice with the enterprise, Tomcat++ does and can serve big customers"
  • Focused on DevOps: It can provide proper end-to-end governance

While competing platforms certainly offer many of the same features, the focus tends to be on distribution, security, development of platform strategies and the ability to quickly create apps. WSO2 aims to target large enterprise customers, and hopes that its API Branding strategy is enough of a differentiator to give it a leg up.

Wendell Santos

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