APIs are among us. If you travel Highway 101 between Silicon Valley and San Francisco today, many of the billboards represent companies whose primary interface is the API: Twilio, PubNub, Braintree, and more. Nearly all popular websites — Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter — offer APIs. The large public clouds are continuously making a broad range of functions available as APIs, from image and text processing, to IoT support, to more tradition IT functions around compute, network, and storage. APIs have moved far beyond the digital realm, too. You can ship goods, send physical mail, reserve warehouse space, and perform many other physical services via APIs.
One of the dominant trends in software development is now towards microservices — in which programs are decomposed into reusable, functional components that communicate with each other via APIs. The microservice API is quickly becoming a standard method to access online services, whether internal to a program, internal to an organization, or across the public Internet. In addition, the rise of serverless (functions as a service) is massively accelerating this movement by forcing developers to architect around a very fine-grained microservices approach.
As with the rise of HTTP and the web decades ago, APIs are aided by infrastructure components that help with management and security. Gateways for brokering APIs have been around for decades and can be thought of as an air traffic controller for APIs: API Gateways sit in front of APIs and mediate access to them. They overlay security, load balancing, key management, performance management, and many other functions that are critical to offering a secure and reliable API service.
Existing solutions mediate access between primarily monolithic legacy applications in the enterprise. However, those solutions aren’t suitable for this shattering of the application into small functional components that are scattered throughout the globe. Which is why we’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Mashape — the company behind Kong, the API Gateway that has quickly become the de facto way for developers and DevOps engineers to securely manage and extend microservices and serverless APIs.
Even before I met with Mashape, I was aware of Kong. One of the teams I used to manage is a very happy user of the project. But even so I was shocked when I learned of its growth and popularity: Kong’s user base has grown nearly 30 times year over year, with over 2 million downloads. It also touts an exceptionally impressive user list covering a broad range of verticals from Rakuten to Giphy.
In many ways, Kong is the right project at the right time. It was not only built from the ground up to be exceptionally fast, reliable, and extensible, but just as importantly to be open, to foster community, and to be the best platform to enable the microservices revolution.
Projects like Kong require a special type of leadership. Leaders who are not only deeply technical, but understand the power of and need for community, and the openness that keeps them engaged. Kong has that in Augusto and Marco. When we first met, I was very impressed by their depth and understanding of the API space; I was equally as impressed with their commitment to the project and the community. Beyond creating Kong and a popular online API marketplace, the pair have also cofounded API world, the largest API conference globally.
I believe the move to microservices is as broad a shift as the move to client server. As with that transformation, new technologies are now needed to provide infrastructure as the new generation of application development and deployment flourishes. Kong has already established itself as a leader in that space and I’m very excited to partner with Mashape to continue ushering in this next wave.