"What Challenges Do API Service Providers Face in the Enterprise Space?"

APIs are hot right now. With the success of Twitter, Twilio, Facebook and others -- due in no small part to their APIs -- the enterprise space is taking notice. The demand for enterprise API services is increasing, with a number of services providers stepping up to compete for the business. As this happens, there are three major areas that may prove challenging for API service providers targeting the enterprise space:

Developers: Wide range of vendor, partner, and public developer needs and expectations.

  • Open and Accessible - A public, self-service and accessible API ecosystem, with less of an enterprise feel
  • Documentation - Simple, yet complete API documentation
  • Common Tools - Forums, Mobile SK, explorers and other tools developers have grown accustom to.
  • Monetization - The ability to make money from their work.
Business Interests: Wide variety of business interests wanting to deploy and manage APIs
  • Legal - Whole new worlds of legal concerns for some companies
  • Transparency - Struggles with what transparent means? And how much is too much?
  • Branding - What happens to the brand? Where are pitfalls? Where are opportunities?
  • Non-IT - More engagement from non-IT decision makers when deploying APIs.
  • Tools - Reports, widgets and other GUI tools that allow decision makers to put APIs to work.
Enterprise IT: Sector that has high expectations when it comes to software.
  • Secure - Mission critical security in all areas.
  • Scalable - Scalability has to be baked in.
  • SLA - Service levels have to be guaranteed.
  • On-Premise - Ability to deliver behind the firewall.
  • Private Cloud - Deploying in their private cloud infrastructure.
  • Public Cloud - Deploy on public cloud infrastructure.
When it comes to providing API services to the enterprise, you have different public, vendor and partner-developer expectations -- which all may be quite different. To complicate things, you may have decisions around APIs increasingly coming from non-IT departments, bringing a whole bunch of business related concerns.

Lastly, this is the enterprise. Things have to be solid. Web APIs have been proven in social media, cloud computing and other areas not born in the enterprise. There is just a much higher expectation over quality of service then there has been with the Twitter API and other open APIs.

All of this will test API service providers, forcing them to deliver a unique set of tools that meet the needs of some potentially competing interests of open developers, internal and external business interests, and traditional IT decision makers.