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Jugnoo is Hyper Local and All About the API

By Maurice Nagle
July 15, 2016

A hot topic in recent years is the notion of the “Uberization” of society. To attack a market with a modernized model capable of providing on-demand services in an efficient manner. In the same way, Uber continues to disrupt the taxi industry, Jugnoo is doing so with auto-rickshaws – with the goal of being the largest in “hyper local.”

Jugnoo Founder and CEO Samar Singla will be leading the session, “Are APIs Replacing Entire Businesses?” at the inaugural All About the API event next week at Caesars in Las Vegas. As a precursor, Singla sat down with TMC to talk APIs and more. Find the complete interview below.

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

Samar Singla: With the introduction of API economy, businesses are growing at a much faster rate as they do not have to reinvent the wheel most of the time. This saves a lot of effort, time and money and also keeps them up to date with the market. There sure comes a cost that one has to pay to the provider for consuming the APIs, but it certainly is much less than adding a new vertical all by a business itself.

It also helps you introduce your product to a much larger audience by integrating your product to an app in a totally different vertical and thus benefitting both the partners. It’s like symbiosis. It also enables a company to focus on its core product and let the integrated services be maintained and updated by respective professionals with less worry.

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

SS: Social branding, social sign in and payment methods are some of the examples of low hanging fruits in API world to start with. To start sharing your own APIs to the world, the usual flow is to develop your APIs first for internal use with security and other aspects in mind. Then, release with a few business partners, fix loopholes if you find any and then go for public release.

The hyper local market can very effectively make use of today’s technology and sooner or later someone is going to make a product that will make the lives of everyday local consumers much easier, leveraging this market. When the local market shifts to technology, it shall surely open some doors in logistics industry. Let’s see how it goes.

TMC: What are the major challenges API developers face?

SS: Like any other application, scalability comes as a challenge when multiple APIs try to consume the same database resource. One has to keep in mind to not make duplicate database calls to fetch a resource in one set of operations unnecessarily. Caching is implemented in certain APIs that are used very frequently and cache is updated in real time when a write action is performed. Getting carried away by an existing coding pattern used in APIs in one place, while writing more APIs, is also a problem. So, for a new problem, you need to start fresh and think about the most suitable coding pattern you can use. An event driven architecture in place and webhooks also come in handy to keep multiple systems connected while keeping the modularity in place.

TMC: Who, within an organization, should businesses target when marketing their APIs (i.e., business leaders, CSuite, developers)?

SS: Product managers are the easiest and right persons to chase while marketing your APIs, as they are the people who research the market and try to get an edge over their competitors. They decide exactly where and to what extent your APIs can be assembled into their system.

While influencing the Csuite has its own benefits in startups ecosystem, and you may start reaping benefits earlier, talking to product managers first gives you an opportunity to know the other product better before making any decisions.

TMC: How do you measure ROI of APIs?

SS: Technical Aspect – This is more to do with keeping records of transactions and generating matrices. We use in-house tools and third party utilities like kibana and newrelic to generate the usage matrices.

Using these, we calculate things like number of new users registered, and total number of transactions made by the new users compared to existing matrices. This gives a pretty clear picture of overall growth and ROI.

Business ROI – This is more to do with what is the overall business impact from the traction and recognition we receive in this journey. It builds credibility and gets easier to partner with bigger names once you prove your mettle with existing partnerships.

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

SS: Yes, API security is more crucial than securing your internal services and methods for obvious reasons. While you may not leave a loophole in your system technically, you mostly expose your system to outer world to be used with some credentials and there is always a risk of a credentials leak which can compromise valuable data. To overcome this problem, one can always implement multiple step authentications at a crucial point in an API flow.

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

SS: SOAP adheres more to standards and has a typical contract shared as a document which both the server and client have to comply with, but it adds an overhead to check for the headers, typing and other stuff which doesn’t go along with today’s data critical mobile devices.

REST, on the other hand, doesn’t need a hard coded contract between client and server, but it may very well not even need one if designed properly following some conventions. RESTful APIs are more extensible and give more liberty in terms of response data format and are easier and faster to develop.

SOAP does handle transactions and security with the overhead it brings but still most people prefer REST over SOAP for the ease and liberty which allows it to add/remove nonfunctional requirements when needed without breaking contract.

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

SS: APIs should ideally not be changed and new versions can be released with a decent amount of buffer time for all partners to shift to the new versions before making older versions obsolete. Small changes can, although, be rolled into an existing version of an API as long as it’s an optional change or an add-on to original behavior and doesn’t disrupt existing implementations with clients for sure.

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

SS: Security is the most critical concern when shifting to API economy as such. Other concerns can be to keep the APIs modular and follow good naming conventions. An API should do exactly one thing unless it performs a series of operations that are always to be done together. This is an important point to be kept in mind while developing an API, as it sometimes becomes very challenging to keep the existing flow of your application intact and putting some checks for someone else to use the same API in a different way.

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

SS: Building an ecosystem around APIs ensures versatility in the long run and, if APIs are developed assuming your own application to be a third party consumer from the start, it can help put correct security checks and measures in right places. A company that has multiple products / applications hosted separately and inherently keeps these things in mind and doesn’t have to face many problems in later phases when shifting to API economy.

TMC:  What differentiates one ecosystem from another?

SS: An ecosystem built around APIs is more versatile and easy to maintain and grow, which makes it future proof in the current scenario as the whole ecosystem is turning partly into web services. A system that is not versatile enough to expose APIs for external use is mostly isolated from users on other apps and platforms and grows at its limited pace.

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

SS: We feel that we are fit to host such an event because we have a team who has developed a product from scratch up to a level where we do 45,000 transactions in a day. We also face all sorts of challenges in order to make it possible for many other growing/established businesses to avoid or overcome issues more quickly by sharing the knowledge and experience we gathered on this journey. Such an event will also give us an opportunity to address the concerns and problems that other developers, businesses and communities have faced. We would like to discuss their problems and listen to their stories while we share our side with them.

Join Singla and slews of API aficionados next week. See you in Vegas!

Edited by Alicia Young
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