Application programming interfaces (APIs) serve as gateways to the consumer social media cloud. But are they also the new "Lego" building blocks of the enterprise?
Robin Vasan, managing director at Mayfield, a venture capital firm. suggests this may soon be the case. In a new post at GigaOm, he observes that numerous API publishers are now taking aim at back-end enterprise processes with cloud services.
"Developer-focused startups provide simply packaged programming interfaces for a wide range of cloud-enabled services — from such basic infrastructure capabilities as storing and retrieving files to much more complex business processes, including invoicing, billing and payment processing. In some instances, startups begin by offering a constrained solution around a key feature/function, but then leverage that starting point to broaden the service into a more complete offering. This is the approach that CloudFlare and Urban Airship took, for example."
Vasan points to the ProgrammableWeb as the best resource for every API under the sun.
We've long debated the Lego analogy that Vasan now applies to the cloud and API sphere -- which he gives the fitting acronym: "Lightweight Enterprise Gadget Orchestration." Of course, there's a lot more to assembling services to address business processes -- whether they come from the data center or from outside providers -- than simply snapping them together, a la Lego. But nevertheless, the current API boom does advance us in that direction, offering ready-to-go or pre-assembled services that can save enterprises a lot of programming time and resources.
Vasan proclaims enterprise IT to be an area ripe for API disruption and provides a list of some of the leading disruptors:
Compute: Amazon, Rackspace, Joyent, Heroku, Node Content/Document Management: Alfresco, Acquia Data Marketplace: Factual, Xignite Identity Management: Centrify, Ping, Symplified Telephony: 2600hz, ifbyphone, RingCentral, Tropo, Twilio