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Enterprise APIs and the "Iceberg Slide"

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Enterprise APIs and the "Iceberg Slide"

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It is often noted that every presentation by an API vendor must include the "Iceberg Slide". As Swift from Sendgrid noted at API Days SF, "API people sure do love their icebergs".The iceberg slide is used to show that Open APIs (the ones you see on ProgrammableWeb, which any developer can sign up for) are just "the tip of the iceberg". Enterprise APIs, the kinds of APIs used for partner integration and to link internal systems, are much larger. In the iceberg analog they are "the bottom of the iceberg". [ I also like the analogy with Dark Matter: "Dark APIs" are the Enterprise APIs which are "all around us but we don't see them"].

Here at Axway we are no exception to the "Iceberg Slide" rule. Here is an example from my colleague Ed King. As you can see on the slide, Open APIs often are a function of "Shadow IT", deployed by a business unit with limited integration into the rest of the enterprise. Enterprise APIs provide more partner and on-premise integration, as well as stringent security and privacy.

The ubiquity of the "iceberg slide" shows that the API industry is agreed there are more Enterprise APIs than Open APIs. But, how *how much more*? To answer that question, we recently ran a survey in a webinar which I co-presented with Jeff Hammond from Forrester on "APIs - A key part of your enterprise engagement strategy". When you watch the webinar recording, you can see that we first define the difference between Enterprise APIs and Open APIs. Then we ask in the survey "What types of APIs are you planning to deploy?". The results are striking:

As you can see in the pie-chart above, Enterprise APIs predominate. The webinar attendees included architects from healthcare and financial services companies, as well as developers and security professionals. So it was a good mix from which to draw the survey.

I believe this survey provides a neat data-point to the "iceberg slide". As an industry, we will continue to funnel part of our marketing budgets to pay royalties to iceberg photographers. But, we can now back up the iceberg analogy with hard data.

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