It seems like it was only yesterday that I was chairing and emcee-ing the API Strategies track at Apps World London back in October of last year. But here we are again almost five months later and it’s already time for the San Francisco edition of Apps World which takes place on February 5th and 6th at the Moscone West convention center.
As with the London edition, I will once again be chairing the API Strategies track. True to form for the folks who produce Apps World, the day long agenda will be packed with deeply prescriptive advice for API providers, offered by some of the top practitioners and API solution management providers.
I will be kicking the one-day track off at 9:30am on Wednesday February 5 with some general comments and observations about the API management space. One of the biggest challenges for API providers seeking to compare API management solutions is how every solution provider frames the API management conversation a little bit differently. Phrases like “API management” and “API lifecycle” are very liberally applied which can make it very confusing for those of us trying to make sense of it all.
Even we, at ProgrammableWeb, have a hard time with the competing messaging from all the players and now, as we ramp up our coverage of the API management space, we’re looking for a solution. So, for the first time, I will be publicly sharing a model that ProgrammableWeb intends to use to frame our editorial coverage of the API management space and I will be seeking feedback on that model. It’s rather simple at this stage and I won’t be spending a lot of time talking about it. But I’m hoping that it will stimulate some feedback to make sure we’re leaving no stone unturned.
While I suggest checking out the online agenda to see what the full day is going to be like, here are some of the highlights that I’m looking forward to:
I’ll be moderating a panel discussion on APIs as the starting block for your development journey. We’ve got some great practitioners on this panel including Wine.com senior director of product development Cam Fortin, UC Berkeley API and integration architect George Atala, Rotten Tomatoes product manager Lily Liang, Live Nation senior product manager Adam Colson, and Nexmo CEO Tony Jamous.
In communicating with the panelists prior to the event, it became clear that we’re going to be covering a lot of ground in this panel. Wine.com’s Fortin will be sharing some of his trials and tribulations when it comes to who owns the API strategy as well as the challenges in monetizing his APIs. According to Fortin, Wine.com’s API strategy really got off the ground once the dog-fooding started; something he calls “eating your own APIs.”
Rotten Tomatoes’ Liang is going to tell us about something they call Tomatometer scores and how her APIs are about driving SEO and brand exposure. Liang will also be discussing how turning to a third-party API management solution (in Rotten Tomatoes’ case, Mashery’s solutions) resulted in key operational benefits. Here at ProgrammableWeb, we often hear about how companies roll their own solutions — particularly the API portals that developers use to access an API’s documentation.
Edge cases undoubtedly exist; ones where home-growing an API management solution makes sense. However, in 2014, you will begin to notice how ProgrammableWeb isn’t an advocate of that approach for the majority of API providers. Rolling your own API management system is like writing your own version of Wordpress or Drupal for your company’s blog. Or building your own customer relationship management system from scratch. In most cases, these are senseless investments that end up getting replaced with off the shelf solutions anyway. In many situations, a self-crafted API portal is not going to do a significantly better job than a canned solution from one of the leading API management players (and there’s a slew of them now). By going with off-the-shelf solutions, you get to spend more of your time and resources on initiatives that deliver true competitive advantage.
Nexmo’s Jamous will no doubt be a crowd please as he talks about how he’s built a $50 million business as a pure-play API provider. As an API provider serving the cloud communication space, among Jamous’ talking points will be how to control quality when some of what’s behind your API — in his case, the wireless and wire-line carriers — is out of your control.
Following the morning’s panel, we’ll hear from Walgreens senior product manager Joe Rago who will be providing the perspective of a retailer with an API strategy. One of Rago’s key talking points will be the oft-debated strategy of keeping a company’s APIs closed to specific developers and partners (like what Netflix now does) versus running an API program that’s open to all developers (like what Netflix used to do).
Then, we’ll hear from Layer 7 Technologies product marketing director Ross Garrett who will be giving a state of the union address when it comes to APIs. Wow! Talk about timing. First Obama’s state of the union address. Now Garrett’s. Layer 7 is one of that “slew” of API management solution providers that I mentioned earlier.
Garrett’s address will be followed by another panel that I’ll be moderating about launching and managing APIs. This panel is stacked with a mix of practitioners and API management providers. Target technical architect consultant Dan Cundiff is among them and he shared some thoughts with me in advance of Wednesday’s panel. According to Cundiff, he’ll be using his experience to discuss how to build APIs that scale, how to slice and dice your APIs according to discreet business units, and how to ensure that those old, slow legacy systems aren’t bogging down the performance of your API.
Cundiff won’t be the only retail giant on the panel. Kohl’s Department Stores will also be represented by senior IS manager Jan Rosen. The panel is also balanced out by two API management solution providers; 3Scale CEO Steve Willmott and Layer 7’s Garrett. Maybe we’ll see some fireworks as they fight for mindshare!
As said earlier, I encourage you to check out the agenda to learn about the entire day. If you manage to make it to the Moscone Center, be sure to swing by the API Strategies track and say hello.
By David Berlind. David is the editor-in-chief of ProgrammableWeb.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect to David on Twitter at @dberlind or Google+, or friend him on Facebook.