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The API Lie

Welcome to the API Economy! Now that we’ve worked all the kinks out of RESTful APIs, we now have seamless interoperability among all manner of endpoints, from legacy enterprise web services to microservices.

If only it were that easy. True, vendors have largely risen to the management and governance challenges such APIs face (although more work is still needed around microservice interface governance), but the elephant in the integration room remains: data integration.

pinocchiohttps://intellyx.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/pinocchio-768x513.jpg 768w, https://intellyx.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/pinocchio-219x146.jpg 219w, https://intellyx.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/pinocchio-50x33.jpg 50w, https://intellyx.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/pinocchio-600x400.jpg 600w, https://intellyx.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/pinocchio.jpg 800w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Back in the web services days, we offloaded the role of data formats to XML schemas, and leveraged ESBs or XML appliances to perform complex XSLT or XQuery transformations.

This heavyweight, middleware-centric approach to data integration served many of our needs at the time, but today’s cloudified, containerized world needs far more lightweight, scalable approaches to data integration.

To fill this need, along came REST, promising lightweight, web-centric, cloud-friendly integration. Add a REST-centric API management tool, and you’d be a full-fledged member of the API Economy, right?

Just one problem: REST never did handle data integration. After all, REST is web-centric: it provides for Internet media types (formerly known as MIME types) that can include metadata representations of data formats – but leaves the rest to you.

In other words, in the REST world, data integration is largely roll your own. At least in the web services days we had XML schemas to keep us honest. Today, schemalessness is the way to go – providing the lightweight flexibility of JSON, but kicking the data integration can down the road.

The missing piece of this puzzle, just as it was in the web services days, is data transformation. Unlike the ESB-centric 2000s, however, today’s data transformations must be lightweight and scalable. Transformations that can run as microservices themselves, and thus can appear anywhere in a hybrid cloud architecture, as opposed to being locked away inside centralized middleware or physical appliances.

To succeed in the API Economy, therefore, you must look beyond API management to data integration as well – without falling for warmed-over middleware-centric integration technologies from the last decade. Instead, look to vendors like SnapLogic who built data integration from the ground up to be cloud-centric: horizontally scalable and microservices-based.

Complex data transformations have always been processor intensive, which is why we often offloaded them to dedicated appliances. SnapLogic, in contrast, leverages the horizontal scalability of the cloud along with the power of modern transformation technology to offer real-time data transformation suitable even for today’s web scale data streaming applications.

The API lie is that data integration is an easy problem to solve. It’s not. That’s why it’s so important to leverage modern data integration technology for big data challenges, streaming data applications, or increasingly routine hybrid cloud integration.

SnapLogic is an Intellyx client. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this article. Image credit: mhagemann.

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More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting), and several software and web development positions.

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