What is the age old problem between business and IT? Answer: The business wants to do something new very quickly and IT’s answer is 12 months.
Last week I introduced the API Economy Business Drivers series and this blog addresses the first one – Speed. This is probably the most discussed and at least initially most common business driver. Gartner refers to this as “Bimodal IT”. IBM has called it “Two Speed IT” or “Multi-speed Integration”. So if you hear any of these terms, they are all referencing this same business driver. Speed is often the first business driver that companies focus upon as the solutions can be implemented internally (i.e. your own company’s employees are consumers for the APIs). It is an excellent approach to getting started quickly in a safer environment before exposing APIs to the outside world.
The problem, as stated above, is not a new issue. Going back to the beginning of enterprise computing this issue has driven significant
changes to programming tools and techniques and IT architectures. This includes raising the level at which programmers work (introducing high level languages like COBOL), providing databases and other middleware, and driving new architectural styles (client server, web, and SOA). All of these had major impacts on the IT industry, speeding the development of new IT offerings trying to address this speed of delivery issue. But even with all of these advancements it has not been enough. The business continues to request capability even faster.
All of these solutions have one thing in common – they try to make IT work faster or more efficiently to deliver the solution. But maybe a different approach is needed?
IT’s primary measurement is system availability and security. Keeping the business running is of paramount importance! To do this IT implements change control and processes to ensure changes to the production environment are managed and do not cause an outage. A controlled rate of change is critical to ensure the availability and security of the systems and data. The business is primarily measured on delivering business solutions that increase revenue and beat the competition. As new offering are conceived or the competition delivers something new, the business wants to react immediately to take advantage or the opportunity or mitigate the threat. This type of immediate change to the systems running the business cannot be implemented by IT while meeting the required availability goals. The measurements apparently conflict.
Enter Business APIs! With Business APIs we encapsulate the assets from the IT Systems of Record (SoR) as APIs. These APIs are tested and secured prior to being made available. When ready the APIs are made available through a self-service portal to the selected audience – business developers. The business developers can access the APIs when necessary and implement new business capabilities quickly using the APIs because they already exist! They do not need to request changes to the SoR that previously caused the lengthy delays. If a new API is necessary and the SoR capability (data or transaction) already exists then API Management software such as IBM API Connect can quickly create a new API and make it available to the business without changing the back end systems. So again the time frame is acceptable to the business.
But, what if a new function is needed and the back end does not already have the capability? Here is where IBM API Connect provides a significant advantage over competition. Because of the “Create” and “Run” capabilities included in API Connect a new Microservice layer for business logic can be created as a tier in front of the SoR allowing for rapid prototyping and implementation of new business function specifically to be used for the new business endeavor. For more on this please see “Why your business needs APIs”.
Through the use of APIs, business innovation can occur at one speed while maintaining the controlled rate of change and different speed for
the systems of record that are running the business. Note that neither the controlled rate of change for IT nor the fast speed of implementation at the business level is good or bad. They are what is necessary. APIs are the “gear” that allow for the differences in speed.
From a business perspective APIs allow for rapid time to market with new business offerings or to meet a competitive threat, while allowing IT change control that keeps the business systems available and secure. This is an exciting business driver that is the focus of many API initiatives. Next up in the Business Drivers series – “Reach”.
To understand more about IBM’s thoughts on the API Economy visit the IBM API Economy website. IBM API Connect is IBM’s complete foundation to Create, Run, Manage, and Secure APIs. You can find more information about IBM API Connect at the API Connect website. And you can also experience a trial version of API Connect.
If you have questions, please let me know. Connect with me through comments here or via twitter @Arglick to continue the discussion.