The Need for Standardized API Plans and Pricing to Compete with Cloud Providers

Google launched their Cloud Billing Catalog API, providing access to thee pricing for their cloud API catalog the other day. Azure has their billing API, and AWS has their cost explorer API service, showing that programmatic access to what API resources cost, as well as management of usage, billing, invoicing, and other aspects of doing business with APIs is becoming the normal mode of operating an API platform.

I’ve long used AWS, Google, and increasingly Azure as a blueprint for what us smaller API providers should be doing. They are full of positive and negative lessons for any API provider. However, I’m starting to see what they are doing as not just a blueprint, but potentially something that will force many of us API providers out of businesses if we cannot emulate what they are doing at scale. The tractor beam that is the cloud providers is strong. They bring a lot of benefits to the table. So much so, it is getting harder and harder for independent API providers to compete. Offering benefits to consumers that will become deal breakers with using other 3rd party API providers services, pushing API consumers to stay within their chosen cloud platform walled garden.

As a developer, if I can programmatically manage the plans, pricing, and billing for ALL the APIs I use via AWS, Google, and Azure, but I have to manually manage this across many different 3rd party providers, I am going to be hesitant when it comes to adopting any new services that aren’t within my cloud domain. As I depend on more APIs, the benefits of being able to programmatically manage the business of my API consumption is becoming increasingly critical. If the individual 3rd party API providers I use don’t begin to offer APIs for managing the business of my API consumption, and adopting a standardized interface across all the APIs I depend on, I’m going to favor my cloud native API solutions over the 3rd party, and custom ones–giving cloud providers a significant advantage.

It is something that smaller API providers are going to have to start thinking about, and stop being special little snowflakes, and consider how they can start standardizing and being interoperable. Otherwise the cloud API providers are going to continue to gain marketshare, and everyone will just use the APIs available to use in the cloud. Reducing the competition, diversity, and utility that the API sector has become known for. We will just use Amazon, Google, and Azure APIs, and if they don’t have it, it probably won’t be done. Innovation will only occur within the cloud marketplaces, and be way less vibrant than the API sector we’ve enjoyed over the last decade.