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APIs one drop of glue that bonds next generation enterprise architecture

Glue Conference sketching out future built on DevOps, identity, mobile, APIs, subscription models, and evolving corporate strategies
Written by John Fontana, Contributor

This week’s arguments over APIs and copyright are really only one slice of an emerging set of technologies, protocols, operational shifts, purchasing models and corporate strategies that promise to create the next generation enterprise Internet.

Next week, I will take my identity focus to the Glue Conference to see how identity, in the role of the new security perimeter, plays with emerging DevOps strategies, and the growing worlds of APIs, mobile and Big Data.

The conference looks at all those pieces and focuses on what they have in common – developers, who will glue it all together.

The combination begins to sketch a future enterprise with an agile developer staff and application strategy, a toolbox of APIs for connectivity and an identity infrastructure to control who gets what, when, where and why.

“What the cloud did was act as a foundational piece to be able to rework all the architecture, and now things like DevOps, identity and mobile devices are kicking off this secondary wave,” said Eric Norlin, founder and curator of GlueCon.

Norlin says this next wave will be defined by a more agile enterprise. “There is not as strict oversight from a CIO or CTO. That oversight begins to erode under this new architecture.” The mode of operation is speed; including servers instantly spun up, continuous coding, and launches happening live.

“The environment is so dynamic and your ability to scale the architecture is out of this world,” said Norlin.

The opportunity holds enough promise, he says, that top enterprise architects are leaving to do startups or using their current roles to experiment with daring projects involving new protocols and technologies.

All this means that attitudes are changing, alliances are shifting, the status quo is eroding and all parties are protecting their real estate.

Last week’s Oracle vs. Google API case highlights the seriousness of this re-ordering and the emerging battle for who controls the power levers that will operate this new architecture (and that the opportunities and architecture still haven’t matured).

“We are at a time when most individual companies, business and organizations are seeing that APIs are valuable to them,” said Steve Willmott, co-founder and CEO of 3Scale, an API management company. Willmott says the three biggest drivers are API use on the backend to support mobile, using APIs to drive partner ecosystems, and API use that allows customers to integrate.

Willmott said this week in an interview with TheNewStack website that he is not a fan of the Oracle ruling, which concluded that APIs may be eligible for copyright protection. He said it’s a situation that creates “a scenario that puts litigation in front of innovation and market diversity.”


Willmott and Kin Lane, who host the API Strategy and Practice Conference, will stage a half-day conference the day before GlueCon starts. The un-conference workshop will take place under three themes: Real time and event-based APIs, API service descriptions and discovery, and APIs and the Internet of Things.

APIs are in their infancy in terms of deployment. Willmott theorizes there are upwards of 15,000 public APIs and up to 150,000 private ones.

But the promise he sees down the road is a programmable Web. Companies such as Nike and Sears are already putting toes (and code) in the water.

Willmott says the other big trend is a focus on developers. “If you are a company that needs integration, and needs to make it easier for developers to use your platform, then APIs are a game changer.”

Another potential game changer involving developers is the emerging DevOps arena.

“This isn’t a tech problem to solve, it is a business problem,” says Steve Hall, chief marketing officer for ScriptRock. The company’s CEO, Mike Baukes, will deliver a presentation at GlueCon entitled, “DevOps vs. Enterprise: What We Can Learn from Mainframe Developers.” And there will be a CampDevOps the day before GlueCon begins.

DevOps defines a collaboration effort between developers and IT with a combined goal of quickly producing software and services. That, or course, is easier said than done. The concept has been around since 2009.

“The amount of complexity in an always-on world requires IT to do things differently,” said Hall.

And there are a myriad of places where these efforts can begin, including version control, virtualization, and cloud infrastructure, which often puts the definition of DevOps in the eye of the beholder.

Earlier this month, 451 Research analyst Michael Coté said at DevOps Days in Austin, Tx., that it’s clear many people want to do DevOps but that there is little adoption of available tools.

A 451 study showed 36% going the do-it-yourself route when doing build automation or continuous integration, and another 28% who said they do not use any tools. In addition, another 40% said a lack of staffing was a gating factor.

Coté says interest is high, maturity is low and the work that needs to be done stretches for as far as the eye can see.

“The [DevOps] concepts are not new,” says Hall, noting that you could insert agile in place of DevOps and it would sound similar.

“The goal is to change the way both engineering and the operations side run,” he says. “The more they can work together, the faster they can go.”

In terms of identity, new protocols OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0 are fueling efforts to create an Internet scale identity federation for this future architecture. An identity track at GlueCon will examine tokens, decentralization, mobile, and single sign-on.

Next week, there are more that 50 sessions and upwards of 20 keynote addresses to help jump-start that collaboration.

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