Article by Ben Kepes for Forbes on July 31, 2014 – At the risk of overusing Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs), this story is, in my mind, pretty interesting. SAP is, of course, the German vendor of massive enterprise software solutions that power the world’s biggest businesses. They’re a powerhouse of technology but, arguably, are struggling to move into a new paradigm of technology where cloud, connected devices and the like come to the fore.
Which is why their partnership with Apigee being announced today is so interesting. Apigee is a vendor that helps enterprises manage their APIs. For those not immersed in the minutiae of technology, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are the glue that bind together different applications and devices. Essentially APIs are what allow your iPhone application to “talk” with the cloud, what allows your connected refrigerator to know what grocery items Costco has on special at the moment and allows your accounting application to integrate with your customer relationship management tools.
If you’re an enterprise that needs to use technology as a differentiator, then it’s a safe bet that you have a need for APIs. And when you need APIs, you also need to start thinking about the plumbing and control behind those APIs – security, management and the like. That’s what Apigee does and it has such high-profile customers as Walgreens, Shell, Kaiser Permanente and Sears.
SAP is planning on delivering its own API management solution built on top of Apigee. This is interesting from a number of perspectives. Firstly, it’s interesting to see SAP partner rather than build its own solution. SAP has sometimes displayed the “not built here” syndrome in preferring to build its own solutions. Partnering with a vendor like Apigee that is already well established makes sense.
More interesting however is the fact that SAP sees API management as such an important area. Says Björn Goerke, SAP executive vice president and corporate officer:
Businesses are increasingly recognizing APIs as a key ingredient to participate in the digital economy. Today’s announcement is a great example of how the SAP HANA platform and our ecosystem can help provide a more powerful combination for customers preparing for the digital future by leveraging their digital assets and making them consumable by their customers and the larger ecosystem.
Take out the obvious SAP spin in all of that and you have a telling admission – that the increased leveraging of digital assets is critical for every organization going forwards – an API strategy and platform is a key part of that.
In terms of the commercial nuts and bolts, this new offering, called the SAP API Management application, will be available as a cloud solution on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform and also as an on-premise solution.
Of course this could just be hollow announcement that never really goes anywhere, but the very fact that SAP is realizing the value that APIs can bring is a good indicator of just how far we’ve already come.