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Fueled by IBM middleware, the API economy is poised to help clients drive more revenue

Marie Wieck, GM, IBM Systems Middleware
Marie Wieck General Manager, IBM Systems Middleware - Photo by Matt Carr

The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) recently released a report on how the advent of the digital revolution impacts organizations. Titled “New Technology, New Mindset,” the study examined how the move to digital is shifting the conversation around IT infrastructure from technical to strategic.

As they strive to best competitors and cooperate with partners to improve business outcomes, organizations are encountering some challenges as they share data with others. Determining which data to share freely and which must be tightly controlled is critical. Additionally, integrating with ecosystem members can be confusing because organizations may rely on different platforms. Finally, managing workload demands from partners and clients outside an organization’s firewall can be difficult.

The answer to addressing many of these challenges lies in the use of APIs. “It is clear that APIs will be critical to unleash the insights from internal systems of record and build the necessary ‘wiring’ among organizations collaborating in the digital economy,” the IBV whitepaper states. “APIs will serve as the fuel for new forms of innovation and combining capabilities from multiple sources that cross traditional geographic and industry lines.”

Recognizing this shift was occurring, IBM realigned itself to handle what is now being referred to as the API economy. (Read an interview with IBM Senior Vice President Tom Rosamilia about that realignment: ibmsystemsmag.com/mainframe/Business-Strategy/ Competitive-Advantage/Rosamilia-transformation/.)

One of the biggest drivers of this shift is the increasing use of mobile devices. The average mobile app uses at least a dozen APIs as it requests the services needed to fulfill a user’s request. “All of the APIs need to be powered by the connections and the integration to whoever is delivering that service, and to do it in a secure and scalable way to drive more revenue,” explains Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Systems Middleware. “That is what we’re seeing around the whole notion of the API economy.”

This is one of the reasons behind IBM’s acquisition of StrongLoop Inc. in 2015—to help companies succeed in connecting mobile, the Internet of Things and next-generation Web applications with enterprise data and services in a hybrid cloud environment. In short, the company’s Node.js runtime capabilities were added to IBM’s Java*, JavaScript* and .Net capabilities to provide a one-stop shop for integration developers. StrongLoop* ARC services were integrated into IBM Bluemix*, the company’s cloud platform for integration, as well as integrated into WebSphere*, DataPower*, API Management and IBM MobileFirst* offerings.

Optimizing the Lifecycle

IBM is not alone in taking note of the digital transformation organizations are undergoing. Noted speaker and author Geoffrey Moore referenced the digital transformation around systems of engagement, the new mobile, social and digital means of self-service with the corresponding systems of record, key applications, transaction systems, and databases.

IBM sees clients increasingly adopting a lifecycle approach. Clients used to talk about building, running and managing—building new applications, running them and managing that lifecycle. In today’s digital world, clients want interactive user design. They are composing content from multiple sources (reuse and assembly), deploying them perhaps into a cloud and continuing to optimize and improve them, driving agile principles into the mix.

Evelyn Hoover is executive editor of IBM Systems Magazine. Evelyn can be reached at ehoover@msptechmedia.com.

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