The way we interact with the world has changed immensely over the last 10 years. The transition has largely consisted of moving to digital connections — from paper forms, dumb phones, passive content consumption and brick-and-mortar to online, interactive, intelligent applications connecting us to the people, businesses and things around us.
The enterprise has undergone the same transition — moving from slow, disconnected, siloed systems to agile, virtual environments with multiple channels to market. This evolution has been broad and deep, from the infrastructure on which we run our applications to the ways in which we interact with our customers. It has largely been accomplished by evolving the entire stack into consumable, programmable components exposing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for connectivity and integration. The adoption of APIs has enabled the enterprise to turn the IT landscape into "software-defined everything."
Software's Impact on Infrastructure and Applications
Cloud and virtual environments are really just a familiar logical pattern applied on top of a new substructure of commoditized hardware and automated management systems. Even the networks on which these systems run are often just common routing patterns implemented using software-defined networking. The network, the servers, the distributed backend data sources — all of these have become black boxes that can be wired together and programmed using exposed APIs.
The applications being deployed on these systems have also changed dramatically. New applications need to be lightweight, nimble, and accessible through a number of different channels. Even existing mainframe applications (which are never going to completely go away) are providing new interaction options and methods for consumption of data. Again, APIs are the underlying technology enabling this application flexibility.
Connecting out to partners and customers has also been revolutionized, in part because the way we consume applications and data has changed. The connections we make with consumers must be interactive, cross-platform and mobile-enabled, so that they can get to the same data and achieve the same results on an Android smartphone, iPad tablet or Windows desktop. For partners, that consumption needs to be automated and integrated into their existing processes. The only way to deliver value to all of these different channels is through the use of APIs.
Software's Effect on Consumer Engagement
Consumer-oriented businesses have made incredible progress in how they interact with their customers. Gone from our doctors' offices are the vast libraries of shelving with paper medical records. The electric meter reader is now a connected device rather than a guy driving down your street. And your favorite department store (or twelve of their online competitors) would love to sell you the shoes you saw on TV last week without you ever having to step foot in a store.
This theme continues into the pure consumer space, as individuals want access to more data in more places, and have grown used to apps on their phones, in their cars and even on their wrists. Simple items like pedometers, maps and shoes have turned into an integrated system of connected wearables and fitness applications. And our houses, phones and cars can resume the music, movie or website we were engaged with as we move from one location or channel to the next; APIs have made these things possible.
The Ubiquity of Software — Defining Everything
It's hard to overstate the significance that a state of "software-defined everything" will have on our lives and our businesses; the understanding that we are living in an Application Economy suggests the financial impact. It also touches so many of the areas we have to deal with as technical professionals such as big data, cloud, mobile and the Internet of Things. Savvy enterprises must understand and embrace these changes in order to thrive and be prepared for what comes next.
The API solutions from CA Technologies (which purchased Layer 7 Technologies last year) help enterprises manage and secure the underlying APIs that make the Application Economy possible. But to create a truly digital business — to transform the IT infrastructure and applications of the past into the software-defined everything of the future — there are plenty of considerations beyond which vendor to select for API management. For this reason, Layer 7 Technologies created the API Academy, and that group continues operating today with CA's support. The API Academy is a team of experts in the industry that provide vendor neutral guidance on everything from API design to business model creation to developer adoption.
The members of the API Academy have a rich history of professional experience across large enterprises, nimble startups and government organizations. They've written books, run successful internal and external API programs, led developers, written code, implemented enterprise architectures, registered new media types, and organized hackathons. They teach, talk and write about these subjects daily, and are some of the most well-respected experts in the field.
The advisors of the API Academy and other CA Technologies experts will be instituting a regular publication schedule, writing each month about topics relating to the new application economy and the role APIs play within it. Topics will include a look at the current and future states of the connected car, social media integration with enterprise IT, the risks and benefits of third party APIs, building APIs for responsive design, and many more. We hope you enjoy.
About the Author
Jaime Ryan is Senior Director, Product Management & Strategy at CA Technologies, leading integrations between CA SecureCenter solutions and other CA and partner technologies. Jaime was at Layer 7 Technologies prior to CA's acquisition in June 2013, where his responsibilities included technical strategy, partnerships, evangelism, marketing and analyst relations. He has been building secure integration architectures as a developer, architect, consultant and author for the last fifteen years, and currently resides in San Diego with his wife and two daughters.
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