Why cloud providers must look beyond services to APIs

Modern applications are becoming webs of services. To deliver real value, service providers need to offer complete platforms along with the services customers demand

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Back in the early 2000s, I worked as an architect for a San Francisco consulting company, designing and building large scale Internet systems.

One project took me to Lisbon, where a new 3G mobile telephone company wanted to differentiate itself from its rivals. Building on what were then new ideas, we came up with an architecture that would allow applications to be built by hooking together services. The only rule was that those services needed to provide a public set of interfaces.

Roll the clock forward a decade or so, and that early service-oriented architecture is the norm, with collections of services and public APIs at the heart of a new generation of enterprise applications. We can pull together components and services from our own line of business apps and from third-party tools and services, linking them together to form applications that are tailored to the way our businesses work.

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