The Restlet (Open Source) and API Spark (Cloud) Business Model
I’m always on the hunt for common patterns that are working within the API space, and shine light on them, work to understand why they work, so that others can emulate these successful patterns in the space. One approach I’ve seen work well, in many situations, is a combination of open source and a Platform as a Service (PaaS), and I’m going to highlight the implementation of this model by one of the API Evangelist partners—Restlet / APISpark.
Open Source For Developers
First and foremost, Restlet is an open source web API framework, that any developer can download, and install to deliver their own API. The community benefits from this, Restlet benefits from this—open source API tooling is a fundamental building block for all of this to work. Many companies feel that open sourcing their core platform is just giving away their intellectual property, when in reality many consumers of your software won’t have the resources to implement on their own, and will still need consulting resources to get the solution off the ground.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) For Everyone
If you want the power of Restlet, but don’t have the time or resources to download and install, and you just want to get up and running with APIs, Restlet provides a PaaS version of Restlet, called APISpark. Using APISpark, anyone can deploy an API from new or existing data or file stores--no coding resources necessary. APISpark is a natural companion for Restlet, providing an out-of-the-box web API framework, that anyone can put to use--providing a viable commercial layer built on top of the open source Restlet.
Professional Services For Everything Else
Of course, at any stage of development, whether you are looking to put Restlet or APISpark to work, there are professional services to help you achieve your goals. The Restlet team provides professional services, commercial licensing, and other opportunities to get the skills and resources you need to make your API deployment successful. Since Restlet is open source, this isn’t limited to the Restlet professional services team itself, a community has evolved around the Restlet platform, allowing for community options when looking for assistance with any API deployment.
I believe the Restlet business model is significant, and represents the future of the API economy. It makes sense to have your core technology be open source, and allow the community to benefit from the availability of open tooling, as well as the platform to benefit from community driven software development. This model acknowledges that not every will have the time and resources to deploy on their own, and provides a PaaS version, as well as the required paid support necessary to find success with any API deployment.
Open API frameworks are essential to the success of the API economy, and Restlet is a better product because its source code is open. They have acknowledged that there is plenty of money to be made around the platform version of Restlet (APISpark), and professional services surrounding both platforms. I believe this formula is fundamental to the API economy working, and is something other API infrastructure should look to follow.
Disclosure: Restlet / APISpark is an API Evangelist partner.