2012: the year back-end enterprise systems open up to the world

While everyone gets excited about public APIs such as Facebook and Twitter, an even bigger revolution has been quietly underway: enterprises of all sizes are API-enabling their back-end systems.

2012 will see an emergence of application programming interfaces (APIs) originating from everyday enterprises. That's the view of Anant Jhingran, who says that enterprise APIs are becoming mainstream at a rapid clip.

In fact, the excitement around public APIs such as Facebook and Twitter "hides the real revolution," he says. That revolution is the fact that "enterprises of all sizes are API-enabling their back-end systems. This opens up the aperture of the use of back-end systems, not just through apps built by the enterprise, but also through apps built by partners and independent developers."

I couldn't agree more. We're seeing more non-IT companies becoming cloud providers. The lines continue to blur between service/application providers and consumers to the point where everyone is both.

Even the largest and most IT-rich companies -- such as telecoms -- are looking to the outside world to build apps that will bring more value to their offerings, Jhingran observes.

This is a departure from service oriented architecture as we've know it, he adds. "Service-oriented architectures (SOA) are for app-to-app integration," he says. While SOAs use back-end systems through internal APIs, "the new API world focuses on integration with apps and developers, not with people or processes via SOA." Part of this transition is to "think outside-in as opposed to inside-out," by providing APIs to encourage outside innovation.

Of course, Jhingran cautions, traffic coming in from the outside will mean more unpredictable demand and rapidly changing usage patterns, as opposed to the more predictable patterns in the enterprise software environment. Delivering the API layer through cloud will help prevent suddenly bringing back-end production systems to their knees.

(HT: Jeevak Kasarkod)