APIs allow different types of software to communicate with each other, facilitating the creation of useful applications for a wide range of industries. In a recent article for InfoWorld, Serdar Yegulalp discussed the 6 main categories that he believes make up the API economy.
Beyond this is companies like Docker and Joyent, who are container creators. These “microservices” offer a way to conveniently package API-delivering applications as small, independent processes to simplify complex applications. There are also the platform providers who offer enterprise-oriented APIs, including those who offer cloud-based frameworks for their creation. These can take many different approaches, such as IBM’s Watson who provides business-oriented machine intelligence via APIs, and Amazon’s AWS Lambda, who is creating dedicated environments for hosting algorithm- and functional-programming-driven APIs.
Once the product is built, there comes a role for the management, monitoring and toolset people, who provide the tools to monitor API performance and ensure they keep delivering the service that customers expect. Many of these categories are dependent on silent partners, such as Twitter or the US Government, both of whom provide a large amount of data that gets used in many different ways. Twitter’s Firehose is a great example of the power of harnessing third-party data, while also offering a more recent example of the perils of becoming too dependent on an API.