How Popular Is Your API?

As platforms pop up everywhere, the API, or application programming interface, is the bridge linking data on Salesforce.com to an app built in Google’s AppEngine — or it’s the link between Twitter and your ability to tweet using TweetDeck. No matter what type of business is providing an open API, Sonoa Systems, a company that hosts web services, has decided startups and platform providers need a good way to measure it. So it’s created Apigee, a service that sits between the two linked web apps and manages the connection while aggregating data about the use of that API.

The hope is to get app developers to use Apigee for finding and managing APIs, says Brian Mulloy, general manager with the company. The benefit for developers would be immediate knowledge when an API provider is having problems. For example, a service such as CoTweet would access the Twitter API through Apigee (which is built on Sonoa’s own infrastructure) and, as a result, could know instantly when Twitter was having problems. Aside from providing notice of issues, Apigee could also help an application developer discern whether service agreements from an API provider were being honored. Alternatively, API providers could force application developers to access their programming interface through Apigee, using it as a way to ensure a developer doesn’t somehow take down their system.

To provide truly valuable data on API use, Apigee will need to attract some of the big platform providers such as Force.com, AppEngine, Facebook or Amazon Web Services. Apigee’s Mulloy says even a small subset of app developers choosing to route their API calls through the service would generate statistically significant data. We can’t wait to see it.

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