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Oracle to Share Detailed Views on Getting Ready for the API-centric Future

By Peter Bernstein
July 11, 2016

Oracle to Share Detailed Views on Getting Ready for the API-centric Future

There is no disputing that the future of the real-time, aka, NOW Economy, is going to be not just software-centric for almost everything regarding how we live and work.  And, there is also no doubt that the speed and innovations that are coming at us at an accelerating speed are firmly rooted in the ability of developers to easily, quickly and securely use state-of-the-art tools to hasten new capabilities from an idea to product and service realization and deployment.  The tools of choice for this are applications program interfaces (APIs).  Indeed, in the right hands, the only limit on the possible is the ingenuity.  In short, the future of the Internet Age really is all about the APIs.

The place to be immersed on what is arguably the most significant trend of our collective online future is at the All About the API event taking place July 19-21 at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.  Attendees will be able to hear subject matter experts that are creating this future and how they are leveraging APIs to create sustainable competitive advantage for their organizations, have hands on training and the opportunity to interact with colleagues.

As part of the prelude to All About the API, we asked two of our keynote presenters, James Steadman, Senior Director – Product Management (Oracle), and Darko Vukovic, Manager, Product Management, API Platform (Oracle), to share a sneak peak on their views of what is truly a revolution in the making.

Devsworld: What new business opportunities are being driven by the growth of the so-called API economy?

Oracle:  The API economy reduces the friction in business processes enabling businesses to operate more efficiently and accelerate innovation by allowing teams to better work together and collaborate with partners. Within an enterprise, this could lead to reduced costs of operations and the ability to launch innovative business models that could only be enabled by applications being able to dynamically visualize and engage through APIs at a common aggregation point. Part and parcel to an effective API Management system is also the ability to provide security between the enterprise and partners to extend the enterprise into new distribution channels and supply chains.

Devsworld: Is there a market for APIs you would consider the low-hanging fruit?  Which markets are the next to leverage APIs extensively?

Oracle:  Many industries have an opportunity to improve coordination across internal teams to accelerate development cycles and improve business processes. This is a tremendous opportunity for API Management to aggregate disparate teams by becoming a common secure point of access across the enterprise. We see this opportunity in every industry.

Devsworld: What are the major challenges API developers face?

Oracle:  API developers, particularly those with a single product view, like a messaging system, are faced with the reality that applications will need to consume APIs from multiple products in order to create innovative services. This implies that the syntax, security and where the APIs can be found are different for each product putting the application developer at odds with the API developers who need to service the needs of their product.

Additional challenges include:

  • Enterprise Security is not under the API developer’s control
  • Securing APIs require capabilities and capital intensive systems that are hard to provide on a per API basis, particularly if different technologies are used to build the APIs
  • API discovery is another challenge for internal, as well as, external users
  • Keeping documentation in sync with the capabilities of a dynamic API program
  • Iteration of API versions since the first version often requires modifications to gain acceptance and use by the ecosystem

This is where API Management can resolve these inconsistencies by creating a common aggregation point, API normalization and version management, as well as, maintaining a common security point.

Devsworld: Who, within an organization, should businesses target when marketing their APIs (i.e., business leaders, C-Suite, developers)?

Oracle: Traditionally, APIs have been targeted to those leaders responsible for integrating both internal assets and external partners. However, we are seeing a rise in the influence of leaders that are responsible for business innovation and revenue growth as they see APIs as vehicle to accelerate their innovations cycles through new business models.

Devsworld: How do you measure ROI of APIs?

Oracle: ROI of an API program can be measured in multiple ways depending on the type of API program. In some cases, the ROI can be directly measured by the revenue derived by each API invocation, but in reality, this direct relationship is often limited to a few classes of APIs, such as, a specific charge to send a message that is correlated directly to the API innovation. As API revenue models have evolved, the revenue relation is more closely aligned to the service or capability delivered that could be traced back to a variable number of API invocations -- for example -- purchasing of a good or service that may require several API calls for inventory checks and delivery instructions.

Another ROI measurement would be to quantify the expansion of service reach provided by API adoption in related applications or services – for example – a streaming audio or video service that has been incorporated into a broad spectrum of devices resulting n increased revenue opportunities.  Many internal API programs are traced back to efficiency gain in terms of OPEX. It is not uncommon for an enterprise to report 50% OPEX improvement from an internal API program.

Devsworld:  Who is responsible for security?  Is API security more challenging than securing other applications, hardware, and networks?

Oracle:  Certainly, state of the art IT security procedures should be the baseline. API’s do have additional challenges as the usage of the APIs and the delivery of the capability are often in different service domains of an enterprise and may in fact be in different corporations and even in the hands of developers with limited liability and traceability. It is the job of the API Management system to provide the necessary firewalls and safeguards not only to protect resources from attacks and overloads but also to protect users (internal, external, corporate and individual) from impacting each other’s security and use of the APIs.

Devsworld: Which is better, SOAP or REST?  Why?

Oracle:  REST is easier to use, lighter weight and tends to be used by newer applications. However, an API Management platform that is charged with aggregating multiple assets and applications needs to support both and have the ability to transform from SOAP to REST and REST to SOAP. REST also eliminates the need to deal with WSDL files and provide opportunity for HATEOS and HAL to make the APIs more self describing and easier to consume. We believe that as more tooling is built around REST we will see it surpass SOAP.

Devsworld:  How often are APIs changed or updated?  How is this accomplished while ensuring minimal disruption to users and their customers?

Oracle: With a multitude of products presenting APIs, APIs are in a constant state of flux. Changing APIs is a challenge that needs to be handled by the API Management Platform’s life-cycle management that can manage multiple versions of APIs. The API Management platform is also responsible for disassociating the life-cycle of a product level API from the API that is presented by the API Management platform to consumers of the service. This disassociation allows product level APIs to change while causing minimal or no interruption to the consumer of the service.

Devsworld:  What kinds of standardization is still needed to drive successful mass development and adoption of APIs across verticals?

Oracle:  Given that in excess of 95 percent of API consumption is within an enterprise or with partners, standardization of APIs does not play a large role in the success of an API program. In fact, API standardization could be a road block to business innovation. The success of an API program is dependent upon an API platform that provides the ability to rapidly introduce or evolve APIs in a manner that is simplified for both the services being exposed and consumers of the service APIs; security, lifecycle governance, discovery, etc. being key to this.

However, we do feel that APIs could benefit from the evolution of standardization in the following areas:

  • Description Languages – Open API Specification seems to be winning in this domain, and we need a common way for describing APIs. There are some very nice abilities of API Blueprint which actually makes it our preferred, so we are supporting both. With innovations like HAL, we can treat both formats as first class.
  • Terminology – Much of the industry uses different terms to describe the same things, and many times they are at odds or overloaded. It will help communication and collaboration as terms are strengthened and become more commonly used.
  • API Tooling Data Formats – This community should be the first to adopt standards which are useful to users. For example, I should be able to get an API object from one system and import it into another system. Having a common way to express an API and having the different tools in the industry adopt it will go a long way.

Devsworld:  How important is building an ecosystem around your API(s)?  Can your API(s) be successful without it?

Oracle:  Building a following of developers has been a strategy for some product-level APIs, however, more important is demonstrating value in the API Management platform through rapid API creation, life-cycle management, security, and robust scalability to ensure platform longevity and stability. We are actively recruiting partners to build best of breed API Platforms, which have capabilities from many vendors working together to solve the customers’ needs across the full spectrum of APIs.

Devsworld:  What differentiates one ecosystem from another?

Oracle:  Ecosystems that are built around and promote business benefits rather than technical aspects or technologies are typically more successful. Some API ecosystems are focused around creating developers that can advocate for their product in their place of business.  Products often use APIs to create an ecosystem of other products that use their APIs in order to promote the sale and use of their product. Since one of the jobs of an API Management platform is to quickly develop and adapt API’s, an API Management platform could also be a participant in these ecosystems as both an API consumer and generator.

Devsworld: Why should attendees at All About the API make sure to attend your session/booth?

Oracle:  APIs are an excellent tool to help address business challenges. When examining this larger perspective, the focus expands from the technical aspects of the APIs to operational and business challenges that need to be addressed and the implications this has on a successful API program. During this session we will explore the factors that make an API program successful –ranging from understanding your users and your ecosystem to reliability and security concerns. In addition we will review customer use cases and how they have used APIs to solve real-world problems.

Devsworld:  Thanks. We are looking forward to your presentation, and obviously encourage people to not just attend the session, but stop by the booth as well.

About the Keynoters

James Steadman, Senior Director, Network Applications, Oracle

As Senior Director, Service Delivery Product Management for Oracle, James Steadman is tasked with establishing and executing business and technology strategy.  He leads the product management team with responsibility for all products in the Network Applications Portfolio.

Darko Vukovic, Manager, Product Management, API Platform, Oracle

Currently Darko leads the development for Oracle API Platform - a comprehensive product line which provides enterprises the necessary capabilities to maximize the benefits of API. Prior to working at Oracle, Darko worked at MuleSoft where he lead the product and engineering to implement the Anypoint Exchange & the majority of the content from scratch in addition to working on the MuleSoft API Platform. Prior to MuleSoft he worked at Filepicker.io which is a publicly available, monetized API which has had tens of thousands of consumers and has processed over 30 billion requests. 

Edited by Alicia Young
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