In some ways, API management is a follow-up to service-oriented architecture (SOA), an approach to modular, orchestrated software delivery that was the "it" enterprise technology in the mid-2000s but later fell out of favor as too academic and abstract for businesses paying the software architecture bills. Nonetheless, SOA's principles remain as valid as ever and have continued to be used -- especially in cloud offerings -- even as few vendors and developers dare speak the term.
Today, "API management is what SOA should have been eight to 10 years ago," says Chris Haddad, vice president of technology evangelism at WSO2. API management overcomes the limitations of SOA in areas such as security and quality of service, Haddad says.
Rival API management vendor Layer 7 also views API management as the SOA successor, with SOA now geared to behind-the-firewall operations and API management to exposing data over the Internet to mobile applications and cloud services, says Layer 7 co-founder Dimitri Sirota. In a recent report, Forrester Research agrees that SOA strategies mostly target internal users while open Web APIs target mostly external partners. API management requires developer portals, key management, and metering and billing facilities that SOA management never provided, Forrester says.
Because of the proliferation of API-enabled data access from corporate applications via mobile devices, lighter-weight REST-based APIs are gaining prominence over more-complex SOAP APIs, says Forrester. API management vendors such as WSO2 and Layer 7 have thus added REST support in their tools.
This story, "Why developers are turning to API services," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in application development at InfoWorld.com. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.