It is a common tactic of older software companies to offer open-source services and tools in a way that all roads just lead into their walled garden. There are many ways to push vendor lock-in, and the big software vendors from 2000 through 2010 have mastered how to route you back to their walled gardens and make sure you stay there. Web APIs have set into motion a shift in how we architect our web, mobile, and device applications, as well as providing services to the lifecycle that are behind the operation of these web APIs. While this change has the potential to positive, it often can be very difficult to tell apart the newer breed of software companies from the legacy version amidst all the hype around technology and startups.
I've been having conversations recently which are pushing me to think more about middleware, or what I'd refer to as API lifecycle tooling. In my opinion, these are companies who are selling services and tools to the API lifecycle, which in turn is fueling our web, mobile, device, and other applications. In my opinion, as a server provider, you should be selling to a company and API provider's lifecycle needs, not your walled garden needs. I understand that you want all of a company's business and you want to lock them into your platform, but that was how we did business 10 years ago.
The API service providers I'm shining a light on in 2017 are servicing one or many stops along the API lifecycle, supporting API definitions and providing value without getting in the way or locking customers in. They do this on-premise or in the cloud of your choice and allow you to seamlessly overlap many different API service providers providing a variety of solutions across the API lifecycle. You will notice this patterns in the companies I partner with like APIMATIC, Restlet, Tyk, and Dreamfactory. I find I have a lot more patience when it comes to the whole startup thing if your service is plug and play and us API providers can choose where and when we want to put your tools and services to use.
I want my API service providers to behave just like they recommend to their customers: modular, flexible, agile, and providing a mix of valuable API resources I can use across my own API lifecycle. You'll find me doing more highlighting of what I consider to be API lifecycle service providers who bring value to the API life cycle with API definitions like the OpenAPI Spec as the center of their operations.