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Will WOA API Adoption Kill Integration?

by Benoit Lheureux  |  November 24, 2009  |  6 Comments

I mean, if you build it [Cloud API], will they [IT end users] come? And if companies keep building them [Cloud API’s], will they [IT end users] keep coming? My colleague, Eric Knipp, is following the rapid adoption of WOA API’s at various companies like Best Buy. Such rapid proliferation of Cloud / SaaS API’s is undeniable — and compelling.

But does that mean the death of Integration, meaning the need for integration skills and technology? In an earlier post this year I compared Cloud computing / SaaS API’s to EDI Implementation Guides — the implication being that while many users will be savvy enough and willing to consume Cloud-based API’s directly, many others will not.

This begs the question: How are such API’s consumed? At one extreme Cloud API users will directly execute API”s in new application logic, e.g., within a mash-up. At another extreme API users will execute API”s in association with an integration project, e.g., linking a Cloud service at the process or data level to an on-premise application. At one extreme IT end-users will consume such API’s directly. At the other, other Cloud service providers, system integrators, resellers, value-added resellers, integration service providers, Cloud service brokerages and other  of various IT service providers of various sorts — which are typically quite IT-savvy — will consumer API’s.

Five years from now who will be the predominant Cloud computing / SaaS API consumers? IT end-users? IT service providers? Even consumers? (think: iPhone Apps) And will those Cloud-based API’s be consumed directly most of the time? If so, does that portend the death of integration technology such as integration as a service? I believe that there will be a significant amount of direct WOA API consumption w/o utilization of integration functionality. But I also believe that there will also still be a significant amount of such API consumption via integration technology one way or another, e.g., to address semantic reconillation. But frankly its anyone’s guess how that works out, proportionately.

That being said, what do YOU believe?

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Benoit J. Lheureux
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
31 years IT industry

Benoit Lheureux is a research VP in Gartner Research and agenda manager for the Application Infrastructure group. He focuses on three areas: application integration, middleware and B2B e-commerce, with the emphasis on the latter. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Will WOA API Adoption Kill Integration?


  1. Eric Knipp says:

    I don’t think so – a recent finding is that open WOA API’s don’t in and of themselves resolve the semantic impedance mismatch inherent in disparate API definitions – we’ll still need to transform data and integrate across disparate semantic dictionaries.

    Hopefully it will get easier, though.

  2. The cloud platform builders, especially in the B2B sector, are real API consumers. It seems to me that the platform makers – Netsuite, Boomi, and others, are making the data transparency and applications layers very accesible, and then offer all kinds of web services from specialists, like us.

    We are betting the farm on it.

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by BLheureux: Hmmmm… Will WOA API Adoption Kill Integration? http://bit.ly/5adC6Y

  4. Rick says:

    Disclosure: I am one of those “Integration as a Service” guys…with that said, our CEO wrote a great blog post on this topic with his thoughts:

    http://blogs.boomi.com/bod/2008/12/more-myth-busting-why-apis-dont-solve-the-saas-integration-challenge.html

    Hi Benoit!

    -Rick

  5. I do not think there are WOA APIs. There are REST APIs (or SOAP, etc) and WOA apps. WOA apps being RESTful design applied to www tech would mean the apps create REST APIs.

  6. Jim O'Leary says:

    It seems to me that one answer to your question is in the title of one of your previous posts – it’s about PROCESS.

    Our view is that service-oriented APIs will, to a great degree, supplant the proprietary APIs that have been used in the past to connect applications. But the bigger point is that connecting with applications and services is just one (small) part of integration.

    Our definition of integration includes syntactic and semantic transformation, data validation and enrichment, process automation, event management, routing, and other functions.

    Connecting to an application or service using SOAP or REST does not constitute integration, in my view. But it does reduce the need to deal with legacy APIs, so in that sense, it makes integration easier.



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