Reflecting On API Management And The Apigee IPO

It has been a little over three years since I published my first roundup of API management providers. I’ve been tracking on this new breed of companies long before I started API Evangelist, but in 2011 I started formalizing how I monitored what these companies were up to. In 2015, I now track on over 35 API management service providers, offering everything from simple proxies, to the full API management infrastructure stack you get from 3Scale.

I have met most of the API management providers, and after 5 years of covering them, it is no secret I have my favorites (you know who you are ;-). The business side of being an API management service provider has never really excited me, so I tend to stay away from the investment and acquisition stories, or speculating to much on who is winning the cash game. With that said, I think the Apigee IPO is a pretty significant milestone for the industry, something I have to give pause to, and reflect on how far we’ve come, and evaluate how an IPO compares to the acquisitions we’ve seen in recent years, or the other significant industry milestones.

The acquisitions of Mashery, Layer7, Vordel, and Apiphany showed the space was really maturing, and the recent name change by SOA Software to Akana, shows the space has evolved over the last ten years. I think the Apigee IPO shows the overall space is actually growing up. I don’t think Apigee had many other alternatives, with a gagillion dollars in funding, but I still think still it shows the space is moving out of its juvenile phase. I guess the actual IPO will be the true test of how grown up we all actually are eh?

For me, another thing to note is where 3Scale is at. You see, I consider Mashery, 3Scale, and Apigee to be the OG three of API management service providers. Yeah, I know you have been around longer--SOA, Vordel, and other gateway solutions, but those three are the "OG API management”. 3Scale has been plugging along slow and steady, taking on only the funding it needs, while Mashery was acquired, and now while Apigee is IPOing. I know I’m biased when it comes to 3Scale, but I think their longevity, and success is as notable as any IPO, or acquisition milestones--its been a long haul.

Another thing to think about is the amount of open source tooling that is available in 2015--I was pleased by the amount of new players when I did my last roundup. I was also happy to work with WSO2 early on to understand what the space needed with its open source API management solution, and also the API Umbrella platform as part of the federal government work I’ve done. The amount of open source tooling that is available is a clear sign for me, that the API management is truly growing up, and API management is really a thing (was a little shaky there for a while, couldn’t tell if I was dreaming, or awake ;-).

I would like to end this reflection, on the most important sign for me that the API space will continue its growth, and reach new heights in coming years. The fact that the conversation has moved way beyond just API management, with companies, services, and tooling emerging throughout the API life-cycle, stimulating design, deployment, discovery, integration, and management conversations that are generating the growth I speak of. Things were only about API management for a while, something that really worried me, but in 2015 the conversation goes much wider and deeper, pushing into even more exciting territory like visualizations, containerization, and objects.

In closing, congrats to Apigee, wishing you best of luck in your IPO--Its been a fun ride, and I’m looking froward to it not ending anytime soon.

Disclosure: 3Scale, and WSO2 are API Evangelist partners.