From the outside, Google picking up API management outfit Apigee doesn't seem like a high-profile acquisition. But it may turn out to be strategically important, as APIs drive the enterprise IT Google wants to make a major part of its business.
Here are three key insights into what Apigee will mean for Google, its own enterprise customers, and Apigee's existing user base.
1. APIs matter more than ever to Google and its users
This goes beyond plugging into Google's public APIs for their services; everyone's been doing that for years. Applications created by businesses -- running in their private clouds, in hybrid environments, and in public clouds like Google's -- are becoming API-driven affairs by necessity. An app without an API is like a car with no dashboard and maybe no steering wheel either.
The environments in which those apps run will need robust API tools. If Google provides an environment outfitted with an API tool set that's already familiar to enterprise users, it adds appeal.
2. Google is seeking more enterprise customers
Once upon a time, Google's plan for attracting paying enterprises revolved around its search appliances. Eventually that gave way to Google's enterprise workflow tools -- Google Apps for Business and Google for Work. Now the cloud business looks like a far stronger draw, although skeptics question Google's awareness of what it takes to win over enterprises.
One indication that Google might have a clue is its emphasis on enterprise-scale infrastructure projects like Kubernetes. Those frameworks, and the apps managed by them, require good API finesse to be useful. Again, API management via a known quantity isn't a bad idea.
3. It's unclear how this will affect Google's API management tools
Nowhere in Google's blog post announcing the acquisition of Apigee is there any word about Google Cloud Endpoints, its existing API management offering. Endpoints is already deeply integrated into Google Cloud, with support for a wide range of languages.
How would Apigee work with this? One possibility is that Google will start offering Apigee's management solutions side-by-side with the existing Cloud Endpoints tools. Apigee's non-Google customers would continue to be served as-is. Reseller versions of Apigee's products, such as SAP API Management, ought to remain untouched for the time being.
But it's unlikely Google or its customers would want two separate API solutions even if they were intended for discrete use cases. Few people would want to use one API management tool for their actual cloud environments and another for the apps created in them.
At some point the two are likely to merge, and such mergers in the past have typically favored the Google brand. Google wins by having access to a class of enterprise customer willing to pay for an API management solution -- and, eventually, Google.