Paul O'Shaughnessy | Contributor
December 23, 2013

Four Key API Trends For The Connected Decade


The recent launch of the Kindle HDX reminded me of something Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said about the question he gets asked the most: “What’s going to change in the next five to ten years?” In response, Bezos told the Harvard Business Review the question he doesn’t often get asked is “what’s not going to change in the next five to ten years?” Perhaps it’s time we asked that question.

Mankind bought its billionth PC in 2002, but the last decade can be characterized by the rise of devices in everyday life.  The “internetting” concept faded as the guiding principles of technology shifted towards portable, mobile and now wearable technology. We’re now constantly arriving at signs of the new rising tide of connectivity: Gartner expects that the number of smart devices in use will top one billion by the close of this year. As we look up from our daily tasks and see where we are going in the long-term, some trends stand out as constants in how we are moving towards a vision for a more continuously readable, writeable and connected world. So, specifically, what might the next decade hold for the evolution of APIs?

Systems are continuing to move into the cloud

A recent Wall Street Journal poll showed an increasing number of CIO’s moving IT systems into public cloud services.  While the recent revelation of government data collection has dampened that a bit, the total cost of ownership of standing compute capacity will continue to move this forward.  Larger companies are creating elastic cloud infrastructure within their own networks, allowing the internal efforts to take more advantage of dynamic capacity needs.

Intelligence is continuing to move to the edge of the network

As we instrument more of the physical world, the need for intelligence at the edge of the network will increase.  Ford’s new Fusion Energi line of plug-in hybrid cars generates 25 gigabytes of data per hour. Processing this data in real-time is valuable to the driver. It is impractical to move data across a mobile network into the cloud. If we are to realize autonomous cars, the device at the edge of the cloud needs to be smart enough to make decisions based on the data it is collecting.  Talking to the cloud for decision-making won’t be fast enough.

The number of connected endpoints is exploding

The Internet of Things, the Industrial Internet, Connected Living; there are no shortage of buzzwords around the explosion in connected devices.  It began with mobile devices and is quickly spreading to cars, thermostats and industrial equipment.  This poses a logistical challenge of epic proportions.  How do you efficiently and securely attach these devices to a connected environment?  As the number of things that want to be connected increases exponentially, how do we keep pace with our ability to connect them?

As the number of endpoints grows, the need for security, integrity and authentication grows

As network endpoints explode and begin interacting directly with each other, rather than just through a cloud, the web we imagine the Internet to be, starts to resemble more of a fabric.  Each endpoint must know that the other endpoints are who they claim to be (authentication), have permissions on the network (security) and are acting in an expected way (integrity).

So how are you thinking about these trends?  How are they working their way into your business thinking?  API management is a key tool in your toolbox and can help you take the best advantage of these opportunities.

As these trends grow to influence more over the next years, be sure that the role APIs play in making our world more connected will rise with this tide. By making data and services interactions easier, APIs are a driving force behind the endpoint explosion and other forms of business growth.  API management is a key tool in your toolbox, and can help you take the best advantage of these opportunities by ensuring that data and services exposed by your APIs are secure and regulated.  The next 10 years will see many changes, but the need for well-managed APIs will not be one of them.