The Elephant on the Show Floor at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show
For nearly fifty years, representatives from across the technology industry have gathered for an annual trade show to showcase the newest advancements in consumer electronics. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has grown to become a lavish spectacle at which companies unveil new products in dramatic fashion and make bold predictions for the year ahead. The 2014 CES was no exception, drawing over 150,000 attendees and 3,200 exhibitors to Las Vegas last week. The event featured a variety of new products, from curved LED TVs to 3D printers and everything in between. Despite all of the noise, there was one pervasive theme that resounded clearly throughout the convention center – the Internet of Things is upon us.
It’s true that the Internet of Things isn’t an entirely new concept. Companies have been outfitting objects with sensors and Internet connectivity for several years (such as Coca-Cola Enterprises connecting drivers to Wi-Fi enabled vending machines during the London Olympics). So what’s changed? In short, the hardware required to power the majority of devices was too large, inefficient and expensive. But a handful of leading electronics companies have pioneered breakthroughs in hardware advancement to further enable the Internet of Things. At CES Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced the development of Edison, “a full Pentium class PC in the form factor of an SD card.” It uses ultra low power, runs Linux and has built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth low energy and an app store. This tiny computer was designed to power wearable computing and the Internet of Things.
Other companies also made headlines at CES, including Cisco CEO John Chambers’ who forecast the Internet of Things to be a $19 billion opportunity. Cisco projects that 50 billion objects will be connected to the Internet by 2020.
Despite the buzz surrounding the Internet of Things, no one was talking about how to manage the growing number of smart devices that will communicate across widely distributed networks. The focus was on vision, not execution. So how will companies actively monitor and manage tens of billions of connected objects, each with their own IP address? The answer is the humble API. This lightweight method of integration will enable connected objects to communicate with core systems in near real-time. The management of billions of connected objects and their platforms presents a complex challenge, and API Management will play a critical role in providing a layer of control and security across the ecosystem.
API programs come in all shapes and sizes. Many are closed programs used exclusively by employees to build intelligent systems and applications for internal use. Others are exposed to select partners in order to facilitate platform integration or app development. It’s also common for companies to utilize an open API program to encourage third-party developers to extend the value proposition of the underlying platform while broadening the company’s reach. Regardless of the program type, companies need to implement an API Management layer to provide things like key provisioning, user authentication, PCI compliance, rate limiting, traffic monitoring, memory caching, geo-routing, interactive documentation and versioning.
The use of purposeful, structured API programs will also ease otherwise daunting integration challenges across connected objects from multiple vendors. Consumers who purchase wearables and other connected devices don’t want to access unique control points for every device. They want convenient and elegant solutions. Similarly, business-to-business integration demands the use of clearly defined and robust protocols that can be adopted and implemented quickly. In order to fully protect and enable their platform, companies should adopt a best-of-breed API Management solution so that their ecosystem (large or small, internal or open) can be efficiently managed at scale.
The Internet of Things era has arrived and the movement toward connected objects will only become more widespread. As more companies enter the market, APIs are poised to empower connectivity across every industry. The current availability of smart devices is driving companies to pursue a platform strategy, no matter their core competency. Companies are increasingly developing products (such as cars, TVs and appliances) with embedded devices that support apps running on their platform. API Management might have been the elephant on the show floor at CES, but it will play an important part in the enabling of the Internet of Things.
To learn about Mashery and our leading API Management solution, please visit our website and let us know how we can help you support your API initiatives.