In 2016, the Internet of things will be the main driver of API infrastructure growth

APIs enable connected objects to call home, send data, and gather instructions

Unconnected vehicle

Unconnected vehicle

Credit: JeremyA (CC BY-SA 3.0)

As is customary when a new year dawns on us, our industry tries to predict the future and its impact on the market and users of technology.

My predictions for 2016 are focused on APIs. After looking from the business side at how APIs will march toward ubiquity, and getting a more technical perspective on crystallization around an API meta-language, here is the third prediction:

The IoT (Internet of things) will be the main driver for API infrastructure in 2016

How many connected devices will there be on the IoT in 2016? This could be the topic for a prediction of its own (and I am sure these predictions abound out there, and that they all disagree with one another). One thing is certain however, we are talking billions (with a "b"). The intelligent toaster and the connected fridge may never become mainstream, but from connected cars to sensors on airplanes, from the industrial internet to intelligent homes, from implanted medical devices to fitness trackers, from smart cities to air quality sensors, connected objects are everywhere in our lives, our businesses, and often we don’t even know they are here.

In order to function, these connected objects need to "call home" -- talk to a server of some sorts (or more rarely, directly to another connected object). First, to report the data they have collected. And second, to request instructions on how to proceed. Indeed, a connected object is as dumb as practical: the less computation it has to make, the cheaper it is to produce and the less power it needs to operate. Therefore, all the processing and storage of data, all the analytics, all the decision making happens on the back end -- not on the object.

If one compares the growth of the IoT, they would realize that it is on a similar trajectory than the advent of APIs -- essentially the preferred and standardized way for devices to communicate. The added value of a simple protocol, easy to implement over several different transport layers (WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular, etc.) and lightweight on computing resources, is indeed a tremendous contributor to the democratization of connected objects.

As the IoT continues to gain momentum in 2016, the companies that shape it will continue to deploy new API infrastructure to support connected devices, scaling this infrastructure for the billions of objects and the gazillions of data points collected.

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