Benoit Lheureux

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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

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A Cloud API Manifesto for Integration As A Service

by Benoit Lheureux  |  March 1, 2010  |  6 Comments

Three events last week connected some dots on Cloud APIs for integration as a service:

  • My peer review of Eric Knipp‘s upcoming case study on New York Time’s Open WOA
  • A client specifically asked me — “do any B2B integration vendors offer Cloud API’s?”
  • I spoke with the folks at ECGridOS — who offer a full set of Cloud integration API’s

Eric’s research tends to focus on how IT end user companies use Open WOA API’s. The storyline he’s unfolding is that there’s real value in API’s both from the technology point of view — e.g., to lower technical barriers to implementing collaborative multienterprise processes — and the business point of view — e.g., how API’s help companies to tap into “The Collective” of their external constituents to increase insight into their customer’s needs — and even their own business.

The same week a Gartner client was speaking with me about their B2B consolidation project — a typical strategic IT initiative focused on consolidating various B2B and Cloud services integration projects onto one shared B2B infrastructure (either via on-premise software or via some form of B2B managed services outsourcing). In our conversation after we’d explored all their options they casually asked me whether any of the B2B integration vendors I cover day-to-day offer a full set of API’s into their integration services, much like those publicly available for Force.com, Amazon S3, etc.

That was a great question. I’ve been following the emerging role of Cloud API’s for some time now — see Will WOA API Adoption Kill Integration? and Are You a Victim of “API Slamming”? — but not many clients ask about API’s related to integration services in particular very often. A typical use of API’s for integration services that I’ve seen is where B2B providers (e.g., GXS and Hubspan) publish API’s for their provisioning engine, e.g., so that IT end users or channel partners can provision new trading partners electronically, e.g., from Microsoft BizTalk into the GXS Trading Network. Or API’s to support automated message tracking, i.e., instead of forcing the consumer of integration-as-a-service to login with a browser or run a report.

But most API’s for integration-as-a-service are limited in scope — I am not aware of any prominent B2B provider that publishes a full set of API’s for their integration services. But Loren Data Corp — a very small Ecommerce provider with a history of OEM’ing basic VAN transport capabilities — has recently deployed a comprehensive set of API’s for their integration-as-a-service offering at ECGridOS.net. (As a .NET developer myself I was struck my the breadth and readability of these integration-related API specifications).

Without promoting one provider over another, I found it intriguing to discover such a full set of API’s devoted to integration-as-a-service. I wonder if other providers of integration-as-a-service also publish such comprehensive API’s. It also makes me think that perhaps other providers — who, Boomi? Cast Iron? Hubspan? GXS? — should also do so in order to better serve the needs of their users.

I will be following this closely, and welcome hearing more from other providers who publish API’s specifically for integration as a service. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m not prone to hyperbole, and frankly I consider API’s to be simply another incremental opportunity to enhance your overall value to external constituents. But given that Cloud services and the SOA approach to integrating distributed functionality is an enduring, high impact IT scenario I believe that B2B providers *should* be developing an API strategy for exposing their integration as a service functionality. If not immediately, probably soon.

What do you think?

- bjl

6 Comments »

Category: APIs B2B Cloud Cloud Services Cloud Services Integration EDI IaaS Integration SaaS Integration     Tags:

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 uberVU - social comments   March 1, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by BLheureux: A Cloud API Manifesto for Integration As A Service http://bit.ly/bGuNta

  • 2 Alan Wilensky   March 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Ben:

    Thanks for the mention, as we are fighting the good fight for every bit of what it takes. ECGridOS is a labor of love for Todd Gould and Myself, and is still the full capability EDI Web Services API that presents as a rational grammar for creating and controlling EDI networks and embedding those functions in OEM or SAAS code.

    Thanks for your even handed coverage.

    Alan W.

  • 3 Rajeev Gupta   March 2, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Ben,

    Nice topic.

    I used to work for product architect for GXS before I started DBSync – http://www.mydbsync.com – a product that I incubated with the help of Salesforce in an effort to bring Integration as a Service. We have had good success and foray into SaaS/Integration and EDI – combining best of EDI concepts and SaaS and WebServices.

    With Integration API – you have two approaches – document centric and API centric. While generalization can happen on a high level, individual end point protocols differ quite a bit like salesforce API’s are very much like database tables – more or less define it the way you like while applications like QuickBooks and Intacct or other ERP’s are more document or business objects centric.

    Would be interested in getting your views.

    Thanks
    Rajeev Gupta

  • 4 Rishi Vaish   March 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Hey Benoit,

    Providing an API is a key element in any mature cloud-based service and cloud integration as a service is no exception. Cast Iron’s latest integration platform provides a comprehensive set of APIs that allows users to provision, control and monitor their cloud integrations programmatically.

    Cheers,
    Rishi

  • 5 Alan Wilensky   March 10, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Rishi:

    Boy have we been trying to get a hold of you/! Open the Gate, brother!

  • 6 Aaron Smith   March 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I never thought I’d say it, but Pervasive seems to be putting together a strategy in this space. http://cloud.pervasive.com/Pages/Documentation.aspx

    But I like the upstarts, I’ll be looking at ECGridOS.