APIs the latest term for SOA? Hold that thought

APIs have characteristics and purposes outside the scope of service oriented architecture, one industry leader argues.

A common refrain being heard across the industry is that APIs are only the latest term for describing work toward 'service oriented architecture.' However, one industry thought-leader says there are important distinctions.

Ed Anuff Apigee-photo from LinkedIn
Ed Anuff, VP of product strategy at Apigee. Photo: LinkedIn

In a new webcast, Ed Anuff, vice president of product strategy at Apigee, discussed the relationship between APIs -- the new breed of RESTful APIs on the scene today -- and SOA. The two concepts actually differ, he argues -- with SOA focusing on enterprise integration and governance, while APIs are more about channels and applications.

Anuff says APIs have the following characteristics, which separate these from more established SOA practices:

SOA governance does not fully cover APIs. "The main differences come about in relation to governance," says Anuff. "APIs introduced this idea of self-service governance. The API model is built for self-service flow that really allows developers to not have to engage in a heavyweight contract-based design process." Anuff adds that APIs are all "being implemented in a different way, with different security implementations, different access patterns, and really different performance characteristics, which tends to be off the radar."

APIs are a channel strategy as much or more so than an integration strategy. "This is why we see a lot of API strategies driven by an e-commerce team, or web team as perhaps your integration team or SOA team," says Anuff.

Web-tier is now built against the same set of APIs as the mobile tier.The rise of mobile has harkened back the older client/server model which emphasized rich client interfaces, Anuff says. 

The API tier is the last stop before the device."If you have to put something between your mobile device and your API, like an app server, then you probably have an API tier that your unaware," he points out. The creation of a mobile-enabled stack is resulting in APIs that are "sprouting like weeds" across the enterprise.

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