Building an API Platform That Will Support the Future
20 Sep 2021
This is just one post in a massive queue of blog posts that are in my head following Abhinav’s post last week about The New Postman API Platform: Redefining API Management for the API-First Worlda>. There is a concept present here that has been in the back of my mind for years when it comes to a shift that is happening with how we are delivering APIs, which centers around not the individual APIs themselves, but the underlying API operational capabilities we need to successfully operate at scale. For me, the balance these operational capabilities represent is at the heart of Postman’s vision for how an API platform approach will take us into the future, and how traditional concepts of API management have fallen short.
While it may seem simple at first glance, there is a lot of nuance behind the API platform landscape image included in Abhinav’s blog post. This image represents the balance enterprise organizations will need to strike when it comes to there operations, how they approach the API lifecycle, and how they evolve towards a more mature API strategy that will flex and evolve with them well into the future.
There are five dimension to consider when you play chess on this API platform landscape chess board. There are numerous traps you can fall into when planning your strategy in this game if you dwell too heavily in any one of these realms, and there is a huge upside to the velocity, agility, and flexibility if you make the right moves across these five areas:
- Native - Leveraging the native Postman platform capabilities present across all of these areas—-think of these as essential capabilities of your iPhone or Android, but this is at the scope of your API operations.
- Partner - Benefiting from partnerships that exist between Postman and the most relevant APIs for delivering on security, observability, and other key areas of our operations, realizing that any piece of your operations can be defined as a Postman collection.
- Integration - Realizing that the Postman platform integrates with the essential building blocks of your existing infrastructure, making the platform underneath your API operations seamless, while leveraging your existing momentum.
- Competitive - Acknowledging that Postman competition can applied for specific stops along the API lifecycle, but nobody competes iwth across the entire platform, especially when it comes to integration, interoperability, and scope of automation.
- Analyst - Seeing things from a high enough level that you can begin to see beyond the existing analyst and vendor gridlock around core areas of the API lifecycle that are rapidly shifting and changing, but aren’t always reflected in the current analyst narrative.
With the right strategic spread across this spectrum you benefit from the velocity of the Postman platform over the last 8+ years, as well as the massive investment in our road map to deliver the right native capabilities you need to power the base of your API operations. Plus you can tap into the partners who operate their service within the Postman network, and the partners we’ve established first-class integrations with across all areas of a modern API platform. You benefit from it not being a binary decision between Postman and our competitors, it can be about both. Plus you begin to evolve beyond traditional views around the role of the API gateway in the API lifecycle, how documentation get published, where API work is conducted, and other narratives that linger in the space, even as the world has begun moving on.
This vision provides you with the tools you need for the entire API lifecycle, not just parts and pieces of it. It provides you with the ability to collaborate around these platform capabilities across your operations, in a way that is inclusive to both API producer and consumer. Something that opens up your operations for wider observability across teams, which helps ensure a more reliable and secure approach to API operations. All while seamlessly integrating with your existing source control, CI/CD, APM, and gateway infrastructure. Taking what is already in motion across our operations and then allowing us to evolve it into the future, while benefitting from the native capability velocity of Postman, but the flexibility to leverage existing 3rd party solutions via integrations and anything that can be defined as a Postman collection. In this platform-driven vision of the future, you have the essential building blocks of API operations, as well as what you need for the long tail of how you deliver APIs across your teams.
I have a lot more work to do around this narrative. I known the full potential of the flexibility present in a platform approach isn’t easy for some to see, so I will keep working on the way I talk about this. It is easy for us to have our blinders on and be looking at just a single group of capabilities like design or testing, and get caught up in the analyst storytelling, or competitive bidding. Every capability on this API platform landscape image above is available as an API, and once you begin to see your APIs as being defined by APIs, then your API operations and strategy begin to look very different. Ultimately it isn’t just about the API lifecycle anymore. Sure, we all have a lot of work to define what the API lifecycle is, and how we govern our lifecycle, but the future is more about establishing a platform across the existing tools we are already putting to work across the enterprise. We need to make sure we are using APIs to marry our existing software development lifecycle with a more modern API lifecycle, helping lay the foundation of the platform we need to deliver the next twenty years of our enterprise infrastructure.