SAP will resell software from Apigee in a move to help customers and partners build mobile applications, products and services that securely tap data from SAP systems.
The deal will result in a product called SAP API Management, a rebadged version of Apigee's Edge platform, which will be available in both on-premises form and on SAP's Hana Cloud Platform, according to an announcement Thursday.
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The Apigee product's approach should calm the nerves of conservative SAP system administrators, who may be resistant to allowing external applications to call into critical back-end systems directly, said Joav Bally, chief product manager for Gateway and SAP API Management.
He compared Apigee's platform to a bouncer at a nightclub. "It decides who gets into the club or not," he said.
Apigee stands between back-end systems and applications running on mobile devices, websites, POS (point of sale) systems and other places, according to the company's website.
The applications interact with a proxy API (application programming interface) sitting on Apigee's platform, which relays calls to the back end. Apigee provides a framework for security and authorization, as well as the ability to throttle the amount of traffic moving through an API in order to avoid overloading back-end systems.
The proxy approach means SAP customers will have the ability to make changes to their systems as long as they maintain the API on Apigee. In turn, developers don't have to rewrite anything in order to handle such changes, since their applications talk only to the API.
Apigee also provides customers with analytics showing how their APIs are being used, as well as various ways to charge third-party developers for access to APIs.
With the Apigee deal, SAP is signaling a desire to keep pace with rivals such as Salesforce.com when it comes to opening up its software to the world in a secure way. In November, Salesforce.com introduced a new version of its platform that features 10 times as many APIs as before, allowing for a much wider array of integration scenarios.
"APIs are hot, and not just for digital businesses," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa, via email. "In a way, all companies are finding ways to connect with customers and partners through digital means, no matter the product. This is driving a huge wave of architecting systems for external use through APIs."
With Apigee, SAP is partnering with a company that has a wealth of experience in API management, Hilwa added: "SAP is wise to accelerate its investment in this area and support its large contingency of customers with their API efforts."
SAP is also trying to attract partners, particularly startups, to build software for its Hana cloud platform and marketplace, hoping to repeat the success Salesforce.com has had with its own AppExchange. The addition of Apigee's technology to the mix is clearly aimed at making it easier for those companies to interact with SAP systems.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com