On Fridays, I kick back for a few, take a break from the daily grind of network mapping and diagrams… and hit up Blogpost Friday over on Reddit. After enough wasted time – I mean ‘invested’ time – I found a great article on automation and APIs. This blog takes a hard look at the mantra, ‘the future is API.’
An article written fairly recently (in 2015) states that there were over 12,000 APIs in use; one can only imagine how much this number has grown today. In fact, we hear so much about APIs lately that it’s easy to think that’s all anyone cares about in software right now. Afterall, APIs have made it possible for customers to print their photos on Facebook directly through the Walgreens website and app — in seconds; APIs account for 90% of Expedia’s revenue.
If you’re in the business of managing the network (like we are), here’s a good question to ask: despite all the hype and hoopla, are people really taking advantage of the available APIs in network software and hardware? Matt Schmitz, the author of the aforementioned, says that in his experience, no – they are not using APIs.
So…what’s going on here? Why aren’t you network engineers scrambling to join in all this API fun? Where are they? Network engineers already have a lot on their plates — and APIs can help you mass-deploy changes, save time, and get more done.
If you are a network engineer, APIs can truly make your life better. Here at Graphical Networks, we are seeing this more and more. Let’s face it: the truth about network documentation is that it is always out-of-date….unless you have built it into a process, or automate it, or do both.
Well APIs can be one way to do this. One of the best ways to automate is to take advantage of a tool’s API. You can build network diagrams and network maps using existing data — and build the visuals automatically (no manual labor or data entry needed). My experience with some of our customers is they want to take information and push it in our netTerrain software and have it automatically create and update docs for them. We have REST and SOAP available for helping to make this a reality.
Food for thought: if large companies like Expedia are now using APIs to generate 90% of their revenue…isn’t time to move from not using APIss to manage the network — to embracing them in some way? API’s can be extremely powerful — when you apply them strategically and use them to enhance, not derail, efficiency.