As a result of offering data that steps outside of the purely monetary realm, MasterCard has succeeded in broadening the appeal of its development APIs. Said Taveau, “What we’ve seen by making them publicly available is, we’ve seen usage outside the usual areas of Master Card. For example, a large carmaker in Europe integrated our location information into their system. They can now tell which gas stations are closed at night [or] which banks close earlier.”
The long haul
Steve Willmott, CEO of 3scale, has been working on API management longer than anyone. 3scale began offering services and products to better help enterprises manage their APIs in 2007. And back then, business was not quite booming.
Today, however, things have changed. “The good news is, what we thought would happen is happening,” he said. “Pretty much everyone has an API or needs an API. They need key infrastructure for that. It took a lot longer than we thought it would back in 2007. eBay had an API back then, and there were starting to be a list of APIs. We weren’t wrong, we were just a little early.”
Though they were pioneers, they fortunately did not fall by the wayside, and 3scale today offers tools that have evolved in lockstep with the enterprises that need them. “The first thing we did was build an API marketplace, but there were so few at the time it was hard to get that critical mass going,” said Willmott.
“We ended up changing a year and half in to focus on providers and the tools they need. Now it’s back to the point where the marketplace makes sense.”
Those tools that enterprises need, said Willmott, are “around having control of the data flow. Because it’s not a website, you don’t get analytics. You really want to know what’s going in and going out. It’s really about that control, and in large organizations that have multiple departments that have APIs, all doing slightly different things, giving you the overview of that traffic is important. You have to put limits in place so no one does anything they shouldn’t.”
Willmott said that another thing that has changed since 2007 is the emergence of de facto standards and frameworks. While there is not a definite leader in this new space, he does have a favorite.
“There are some standards that are emerging to describe REST APIs: Swagger, and the RESTful API Modeling Language (RAML),” said Willmott. “Swagger, which we support and which is the widest adopted, is becoming a blueprint for API design and API patterns. That is important.”
Entering with Swagger
Tony Tam, founder and CEO of Reverb and leader of the Swagger API framework open initiative, said that Swagger began as a specific solution to two problems encountered at Reverb in 2011.