Adding Google To List Of API Deployment Companies

I was taking another look at the Google Cloud Platform yesterday, and stumbled across Google Cloud Endpoints. It was something I saw come across my feeds, but really didn’t give it the time it needed to see what it was all about. With the new Google Cloud Endpoints, Google is making a strong push to be not just an API deployment provider, but their approach also reflects what I’d consider to be an evolution of backend as a service (BaaS) deployment.

I think Google describes their service better than I can do it justice:

Google Cloud Endpoints consists of tools, libraries and capabilities that allow you to generate APIs and client libraries from an App Engine application, referred to as an API backend, to simplify client access to data from other applications. Endpoints makes it easier to create a web backend for web clients and mobile clients such as Android or Apple's iOS.

While much of the Google Cloud Platform offering looks a lot like the cloud offering over at Amazon Web Services, AWS definitely does not have API deployment as a service, baked into their cloud stack, like Google does with Google Cloud Endpoints.

Google puts an emphasis on API endpoint deployment for mobile purposes, but leaves it open to be used in JavaScript as well—which seems a little limiting, since you could call same endpoints in any language. Oh well, I’m not writing their marketing.

..the API backend is an App Engine app that performs business logic and other functions for Android and iOS clients, as well as JavaScript web clients. The functionality of the backend is made available to clients through Endpoints, which exposes an API that clients can call.

Google provides SDKs for Android, iOS, and JavaScript, as well as a very Java heavy development process using Maven, combined with the Google Plugin for Eclipse, which is used to design, develop, and deploy your APIs to Google App Engine.

All Google has to do now, is open up the Google Console as a Google Cloud Endpoints management console, giving developers on the Google Cloud Platform the ability to design, deploy, and manage their APIs. Then if Google baked in Google Discovery services for all Google Cloud Endpoints, developers would have a pretty slick discovery layer on top of their cloud API stacks. Hell, all you need then is to allow generation of APIs.json for each collection, and boom you have a pretty complete API design, deployment, management, and discovery platform in the clouds.

Now that Google is added to my API deployment research, I will be keeping a closer eye on what they are doing in respects to being a cloud API platform.

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The New StrongLoop API Server Provides A Look At Future Of API Deployment

I’m looking through the most recent API server release from StrongLoop, and I can’t help but see echoes of what I’ve been researching, and covering across the API Evangelist networkAPI management has been front and center for years, but API deployment is something that is just now being productized, with a wealth of new service providers emerging to provide API deployment solutions that go beyond DIY frameworks, and enterprise API gateways.

Let start with walking through their announcement of their StrongLoop API Server:

  • LoopBack 2.0 - An open source framework for quickly creating APIs with Node, including the client SDKs.
  • mobile Backend-as-a-Service - An mBaaS to provide mobile services like push, offline-sync, geopoint and social login either on-premise or in the cloud.
  • Connectors - Connectivity for Node apps leveraging over ten supported data sources including Oracle, SQL Server, MongoDB and SOAP.
  • Controller - Automated DevOps for Node apps including profiling, clustering, process management and log management capabilities.
  • Monitoring - A hosted or on-premise graphical console for monitoring resource utilization, response times and function tracing with the ability to send metrics to existing monitoring tools.

Just as StrongLoop did in their release post, let’s dive deeper into LoopBack 2.0, the open source core of StrongLoop, which they say "acts as a glue between apps or devices and data via APIs written in Node”:

  • Studio - A graphical interface to complement the command-line tooling and assist developers in building Loopback models.
  • Yeoman and Grunt - The ability to script tasks, scaffold, and template applications and externalize their configurations for multiple environments.
  • ExpressJS 4.0 - The latest update, for the well known Node.js package, bringing improvements by removing bundled middleware and refactoring them into maintainable modules, revamped router to remove confusion on HTTP verb usage and decoupling Connect, the HTTP framework of Node from the Express web framework. It is also the E in the MEAN stack (MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, Node.js).
  • Project Structure - An expanded directory structure has been expanded to make it easier to organize apps and add functionality via pre-built LoopBack components and Node modules.
  • Workspace API - Internal API making it easier to define, configure, and bootstrap your application at design time and runtime by simply defining metadata in the form of JSON.

This is one of the few sophisticated, next generation, API deployment frameworks I have seen. We have had gateways for a while, and we have a new breed of database and spreadsheet to API providers like APISpark. We also have a new wave of scraping to API solutions from Kimono Labs and Import.io, but I’d say Orchestrate.io gets us closest to the vision I have for StrongLoop, when it comes to API deployment.

I’ve referenced this ability in my stories on virtual API stacks:

This new approach to API deployment allows us to rapidly define, deploy, and orchestrate stacks of API resources for use in our web, single page, and mobile applications. I really feel like BaaS, as an entire company, was just a short growth phase, that leading us to this point, where anyone can quickly deploy their own BaaS, for any broad, or niche purpose. I also see my research into the world of APIs and Single Page Apps (SPAs) reflected here, in StrongLoops API platform vision.

I feel that StrongLoop has an important take on API deployment, one that reflects where leading API, web, single page, and mobile app developers have been for a while now. The difference is that StrongLoop is providing as a standardized platform, allowing developers to much more elegantly orchestrate their entire lifecycle. You have everything you need to connect to existing resources, generate new API resources, and organize work into reusable parts, to deliver the web, single page, mobile apps you need.

I am closely watching this new generation of API deployment providers, companies like StrongLoop, Orchestrate, Flynn, and Cosmic. I see these players being the next generation API gateway, that goes way beyond just providing an enterprise gateway to internal assets. This newer vision is much more directly aligned with the needs of developers, enabling them to rapidly design, deploy and manage the API services they need to drive the web, single page, and mobile apps that are the vehicles in the API economy.

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Considering Amazon Web Service's Continued Push Into Mobile

I am still processing the recent news of Amazon Mobile Services. Over time Amazon is continuing to push into the BaaS world, to compliment their existing IaaS, and PaaS ecosystem. Amazon is a cloud pioneer, and kind of has the first mover, 1000lb gorilla advantage, when it comes to delivering cloud services. 

At this moment, I just thought their choice of core services was extremely interesting, and telling of what is important to mobile developers:

  • Authenticate Users - Manage users and identity providers.
  • Authorize Access - Securely access cloud resources.
  • Synchronize Data - Sync user preferences across devices.
  • Analyze User Behavior - Track active users and engagement.
  • Manage Media - Store and share user-generated photos and other media items.
  • Deliver Media - Automatically detect mobile devices and deliver content quickly on a global basis.
  • Send Push Notifications - Keep users active by sending messages reliably.
  • Store Shared Data - Store and query NoSQL data across users and devices.
  • Stream Real-Time Data - Collect real-time clickstream logs and react quickly.

You really see the core stack for mobile app development represented in that bulleted list of backend services for mobile. I'm still looking through what Amazon is delivering, as part of my larger BaaS research, but I think this list, and what they chose to emphasize, is very relevant to the current state of the mobile space. 

It is kind of like steering a large ocean vessel, it takes some time to change course, but now that Amazon has set its sights on mobile, I think we will see multiple waves of mobile solutions coming from AWS. 

I'll keep an eye on what they are up to and see how it compares to other leading mobile backend solutions. Seems like AWS is kind of becoming a bellweather for what is becoming mainstream, when cit omes to delivering infrastructure for mobile and tablet app developers.

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Expanding The Layer Of API Discovery From Within The Developers IDE

Much like API design and integration, the world of API discovery is heating up in 2014. We are moving beyond the API directory as our primary mode of API search, in favor of a distributed approach using APIs.json, and supporting open source search engines like APIs.io. Another area of API discovery I’ve been watching for a while, and predict will become an important layer of API discovery, will be via the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) plugin.

Open Source SalesForce API IDE Plugin
SalesForce just announced they have just open sourced their API IDE plugin on Github, after developing on it since 2007, when APEX was born. The plugin is old, but is very much in use in the SalesForce ecosystem, something I’ve written about before. They will be accepting pull requests on the main branch, looking to improve on the codebase, while looking to also maintain a community branch, as well as encouraging you to establish your own branch.

Does Your API Have An IDE Plugin?
How far along are you on your own APIs Eclipse Plugin? Are you trying to reach enterprise developers with your API resource? You should probably look at the pros and cons of providing your API developers with a plugin, for leading IDEs. With the open sourcing of SalesForce API IDE plugin, you can reverse engineer their approach and see what you can use for your own APIs IDE plugin—smells like a good opportunity to me.

Opportunity For General Or Niche API IDE Plugins
Not that using SalesForce open source IDE would be the place to start for this kind of project, but I think there is a huge opportunity to develop API focused IDE plugins, for top developed environments, across many popular APIs. Developers shouldn’t have to leave their development environments to find the resources they need, they should be able to have quick access to the APIs they depend on te most, and discover new API resources right from their local environment, aking IDE plugins an excellent API discovery opportunity.

Native Opportunities For IDE Platforms
I’ve seen a lot of new development environments emerge, many are web-based, with varying degrees of being “integrated”. I think that IDE developers can take a lead from Backend as a Service (BaaS) providers and build in the ability to define an integrated stack of API resources, right into a developer's web, mobile, or Iot development environment. If you are building a platform for developers to produce code, you should begin baking in API discovery and integration directly into your environment.

All I do as the API Evangelist, is shed light on what API pioneers like SalesForce are up to, and expand on their ideas, using my knowledge of the industry--resulting in these stories. SalesForce has been doing APIs for 14 years now, and the IDE has been part of their API driven ecosystem for the last seven years. I think their move to open source the technology, is an opportunity for the wider API space to run with, by helping improve the community SalesForce API IDE plugin, but also apply their experience, and legacy code to help evolve and improve on this layer of API discovery, available within the IDE.

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16 Areas Of My Core API Research

When I first started API Evangelist, I wanted to better understand the business of APIs, which really focused on API management. Over the course of four years, the list of companies delivering API management services has expanded with new entrants, an evolved with acquisitions of some of the major players. Visit my API management research site for more news, companies, tools and analysis from this part of API operations.

API Management

In 2011, people would always ask me, which API management company will help you with deployment? For a while, the answer was none of them, but this soon changed with new players emerging, and expanding of services from existing providers. To help me understand the expanding API lifecycle I started two new separate research areas:

API Design
API Deployment

Once you design, deploy your API, and you get a management plan in place, you have to start looking at how you are going to make money and get the word out. In an effort to better understand the business of APIs, I setup research sites for researching the monetizationand evangelizing of APIs:

API Evangelism
API Monetization

As the API space has matured, I started seeing that I would have to pay better attention to not just providing APIs, but also better track on the consumption of APIs. With this in mind I start looking into how APIs are discovered and what service and tools developers are using when integrating with APIs:

API Discovery
API Integration

While shifting my gaze to what developers are up to when building applications using APIs, I couldn’t help but notice the rapidly expanding world of backend as a service, often called BaaS:

Backend as a Service (BaaS)

As I watch the space, I carefully tag interesting news, companies, services and tools that have an API focus, or influence the API sector in any way. Four areas I think are the fastest growing, and hold the most potential are:


In 2013, I saw also saw a conversation grow around an approach to designing APIs, called hypermedia. Last year things moved beyond just academic discussion around designing hypermedia APIs, to actual rubber meeting the road with companies deploying well designed hypermedia APIs. In January I decided that it was time to regularly track on what is going on in the hypermedia conversation:.

Hypermedia APIs

After that there are three areas that come up regularly in monitoring of the space, and pieces of the API puzzle that I don’t just think are important to API providers and consumers, they are areas I actively engage in:

Single Page Apps (SPA)

There are other research projects I have going on, but these area reflect the core of my API monitoring and research. They each live as separate Github repositories, accessible through Github pages. I publish news, companies, tools, and my analysis on a regular basis. I use them for my own education, and I hope you can find useful as well.

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APIs Coming Out Of The United Kingdom

I was able to update my API monitoring system to include the location of some of the APIs, allowing me to look at APIs by country and region. In preparation for API Strategy & Practice in Amsterdam, I'm taking a closer look at what API innovation is coming out of Europe--first up the United Kindom.

I knew about some of the APIs like Datasift and The Guardian, but I enjoyed learning about the other 35 API companies that I discovered. I was only able to find the location of about 700 of the over 2000 API companies that I track on, but will continue to update the rest of the APIs as I can.

Aculab Cloud

Aculab Cloud presents programmable telephony resources in a cloud-based platform. Through the use of simple high-level APIs (.NET and Python). Aculab Cloud makes it easy to create applications that make, receive and interact with calls with no specialist telephony equipment needed. Aculab Cloud leverages Aculab’s core expertise by combining complex technologies into a powerful, flexible and easy to use platform that offers a cost effective way to build telephony applications or add telephony features to their solutions.


AddLive is a simple, developer friendly way to integrate live video and voice into applications. We see great opportunity in real-time applications, and believe that live video and voice will be used in many apps. Our aim is to empower the developer community to build tomorrow’s real-time applications by giving them easy access to this technology.


Adfonic is the smarter mobile advertising buying platform that gives advertisers and agencies broad access to global mobile web and app inventory through a single buying point. Adfonic’s customers run thousands of performance, rich media and video ad campaigns monthly across a wide range of inventory sources to drive direct response, increase consumer engagement and build brand awareness.


Adzuna aims to become the leading search engine for classified ads, globally. The service aggregates and semantically analyses millions of ads and 000s of information sources returning the most relevant local search results to users. Adzuna is a search engine that makes finding classified ads relevant to you much, much easier. By aggregating information from a huge array of job boards, property portals, car dealers, classified destinations, social networks and other sources from across the web, Adzuna returns abundant but highly relevant search results to users. Like Kayak in travel, Adzuna aims to turn a search engine into a destination.


Aepona Ltd. provides application-led products and services to telecommunications operators worldwide. Its Universal Service Platform allows service creation and implementation to be carried out within the service network from underlying network resources. Aepona, Ltd. serves customers in Europe, North America, and South East Asia.


Altmetric tracks mentions of scholarly works on social media sites, scholarly bookmarking services and in science news outlets. It handles all of the heavy lifting involved in extracting, disambiguating and collating this information so that you can focus on your core product. The Altmetric API gives you programmatic access the data about articles & datasets collected by Altmetric.


Betable, the real-money gaming platform, is reinventing entertainment by merging the worlds of gaming and casino-based entertainment. Betable provides the license, support and infrastructure that allow developers to legally integrate real-money gaming into their mobile and social games and applications. Betable is dedicated to providing players with world-leading security, player location and identity verification to keep their funds safe and to ensure responsible gaming. The company is privately held and is headquartered in London, England with an office in San Francisco, California.


Currently in private alpha, Blueleaf will completely revolutionize the way users see and manage all of your investments - 401(k)s, IRA, 529s, brokerage, and other accounts. With Blueleaf’s planning, collaboration, and data tools, users will finally be able to see how all your investments work together and make the right choices to ensure users are on track to meet your financial goals.


Boliven hosts a searchable online database of over 100 million scientific documents. The site is targeted to both end users of science literature and patents, and to information professionals. Boliven enables professionals to rapidly identify novel technologies, clients, partners, commercialisation opportunities and ideas. The company’s BolivenPRO service gives users the ability to search and systemise the Boliven database, analyse results using powerful analytic tools, download and share relevant work lists.


CloudMade, co-founded by long-time OSM contributor Nick Black, powers many market leading location and map based applications from prominent mobile and web developers. Its mapping platform and tools enable thousands of developers and organizations around the world to create innovative geo-enabled products. CloudMade provides third-party developers, operators, mobile phone and PND manufacturers with everything they need to build compelling location based products. From map tiles and metadata to turn-by-turn navigation and location based advertising.


DataSift is the leading social data platform, enabling companies to aggregate, filter and extract insights from the billions of public social conversations on Twitter, leading social networks and millions of other sources. DataSift provides access to both real-time and historical social data to uncover insights and trends that relate to brands, businesses, financial markets, news and public opinion. Delivered as a cloud platform, DataSift does the heavy lifting for companies creating social media monitoring, social CRM, business intelligence, financial trading and news monitoring applications. DataSift is a certified Twitter data reseller partner.


Decibel operate a platform that supplies rich, semantic music product metadata APIs and digital assets to businesses in the broadcast, media and digital sectors. These data-driven assets power the creation of Connected TV, mobile, tablet and web applications, business intelligence, consumer electronics, digital retail outlets and a set global standards for communication and collaboration across the media industries.


GoSquared helps you understand and improve your online presence. GoSquared creates two web applications for monitoring your website’s traffic in real-time - Dashboard and Trends. Dashboard is a real-time traffic monitoring app that gives you an overview of your website’s traffic right now - in a single glance. It lets you see which pages of your site are most popular, where your visitors are coming from, and info on every visitor currently browsing your website along with how they’re browsing (what browser, operating system, screen size, etc.), which language they’re speaking, and what city they’re from. Dashboard doesn’t just tell you who’s on your site, it also knows what page they’re on, and what pages they’ve been on. It know’s where they’ve come from (Twitter, Digg, Google, etc.) making it easy to see when someone’s talking about you. Trends takes all the data in Dashboard and builds beautiful, easy to read charts and tables so that you can analyse how your website has been performing over the past day, week, month, or year. Trends enables you to gain insights into your website’s traffic data quicker than ever before - without having to click a single button.


We are increasingly opening our tools and resources to create more opportunity for application developers. Whether you want to reach wider audiences, engage users more deeply or develop innovative advertising campaigns we have a range of services that can accelerate your digital ambitions. The Guardian Open Platform is now open for business.


Established in 2006, Huddle creates cloud-based collaboration and content management software for the enterprise. Its patent-pending intelligent technology locates and recommends valuable information to users, with no need for search. Huddle is used by more than 100,000 business and government organizations worldwide, including the central US and UK government, AKQA, HTC and Kia Motors, to securely store, share and collaborate on content with people inside and outside of their organization. Huddle can be accessed online, on desktops and on the move with BlackBerry, iPhone and iPad apps.


Importio turns the web into a database, releasing the vast potential of data trapped in websites. Allowing you to identify a website, select the data and treat it as a table in your database. In effect transform the data into a row and column format. You can then add more websites to your data set, the same as adding more rows and query in real-time to access the data.

Judo Pay

judo payments provides mobile payment solutions to thousands of businesses across the UK to ensure they never lose a sale. From integrated card payments for mobile apps to providing the tools to build a custom mobile payment system for third parties, judo makes mobile credit and debit card acceptance simple and affordable. Businesses can sign up with judo directly through the website or by consulting one of over 300 certified sales representatives.


Last.fm is a social networking company which revolves around its music recommendation engine. It offers events, wiki-created artist profiles and discographies and community forums. Unlike competitor Pandora, Last.fm’s recommendations are not generated by matching similar musical attributes, instead it offers internet radio stations programmed by comparing user data to the rest of the Last.fm user community. This data is submitted (or “scrobbled” to use the company’s terminology) via more than 600 devices and media players.


Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.


miiCard (My Internet Identity) is a global Identity as a Service solution that proves ‘you are who you say you are’, purely online, in minutes and to the same level as a physical passport or photo ID check. Through a patented process that leverages the trust between an individual and their financial institution, miiCard establishes identity to Level of Assurance 3+ and meets Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering identity guidelines, enabling the sale of regulated products and services purely online. Combining online identity proofing with strong authentication, miiCard provides the trust and security required for people and businesses to meet and transact with confidence in a purely digital environment.


Mixcloud is an online music streaming service that allows for the listening and distribution of radio shows, DJ mixes and podcasts, which are crowdsourced by its registered users. Its notable users include Wired, Harvard Business School, TED Talks, and Barack Obama. Mixcloud was originally funded by its founders only and continues to be owned solely by its team.


Easy sales analytics for all mobile apps. Mopapp helps developers and publishers to track and analyze their apps revenues from all major online stores (Apple App Store, Google Android Market, GetJar, RIM App World, Appia, MobiHand) and major mobile Ad networks (AdMob) through automatic data aggregation and easy-to-understand reports. It exposes an API to track sales also from 3rd party stores or custom ecommerce scripts.


Nexmo is a cloud SMS API for that lets you send and receive high volume messages at wholesale rates. Sending and receiving SMS at affordable cost on a global scale is a complex and costly challenge. To optimize deliverability and reach, businesses must connect to multiple mobile carriers, install and operate their own infrastructure, build data analytics and use decades old protocols. Additionally, many third-party SMS solutions require contract and price negotiations, as well as significant up-front costs.


PayLane.com is an online payments provider that offers accepting payments in 160 currencies from around the world. Besides the most popular payments methods, such as credit and debit cards, wire transfers or PayPal, PayLane also offers solutions characteristic for specific European markets. Thanks to plugins for ecommerce platforms, descriptors, single-click and recurring payments, PayLane is more than just accepting payments – it’s a way to boost your business internationally. PayLane’s offering is directed both at the biggest international companies and new businesses – having once been a startup themselves, PayLane supports even the smallest companies by enabling them to accept payments.


The company behind Penguin Books, the Financial Times and multiple education businesses now has a developer platform. Explore and test our APIs, and build your own applications using our exciting content.


PeerIndex is a London-based company providing social media analytics based on footprints from use of major social media services (currently Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Quora). Part of an emerging group of Social Media Analytics providers, PeerIndex helps social media contributors assess and score their influence and benefit from the social capital they have built up. PeerIndex currently tracks approximately 45 million Twitter profiles, making the company one of the leaders in its sector.

Postcode Anywhere

Postcode Anywhere is a UK-based company best known for its market-leading ‘what’s your postcode’ technology, used to quickly complete your address when buying online. It was established by Guy Mucklow and Jamie Turner in 2001. By seeing the internet value as a much more efficient information delivery medium than traditional methods - which typically involved burning data onto CDs and shipping out to the customer - Postcode Anywhere has turned the market upside down.


Pusher is a cloud-based service that allows developers to quickly and easily add realtime functionality to webapps. This means that people can create collaborative tools, multiplayer games, chat, realtime dashboards and much more.


QuickBlox is a cloud hosted backend (mBaaS) consisting of 7 modules which developers and publishers can use to add extra functionality to their smartphone, desktop and web/Facebook apps. Enterprise clients usually have system running on their own servers / AWS infrastructure managed by QuickBlox team. This provides flexibility, security and control necessary for enterprise sector. Quickblox's ready-to-go modules add new functionality, reduce development time & cost, add scalability, and quicken time to market.


ScraperWiki is a web-based platform for collaboratively building programs to extract and analyze public (online) data, in a wiki-like fashion. "Scraper" refers to screen scrapers, programs that extract data from websites. "Wiki" means that any user with programming experience can create or edit such programs for extracting new data, or for analyzing existing datasets. The main use of the website is providing a place for programmers and journalists to collaborate on analyzing public data



Seatwave is a UK-based fan-to-fan ticket marketplace, where fans can buy and sell tickets for concerts, theatre, sports and other live events. Sellers list tickets for free, only giving Seatwave a portion of the sale price when the ticket is sold. Buyers pay for tickets through the Seatwave site, guaranteeing secure payment and the timely arrival of tickets. Seatwave launched its iOS SDK in December 2011.

Server Density

Server Density is a web application that monitors important server metrics such as load average and memory usage alerting you via e-mail or SMS when things go wrong. Available as a hosted service or standalone, installed on your own servers, each monitored server runs a lightweight, open source monitoring agent which reports data back every 60 seconds. Reported data is graphed for the last 30 days, or the time range you specify. Graphs are zoomable and the highest, lowest and average values over the time period are displayed for each check.


Songkick is a website and service that provides personalised news about live music events. It allows users to track their favorite bands and receive email alerts when a tracked band plays a gig nearby. Songkick is one of the original high tech startups in London's Silicon Roundabout area.

This Is My Jam

This Is My Jam is for sharing one song at a time. Pick the one that means the most to you right now and discover which songs truly matter to your friends. Choose one song. That song that’s been stuck on repeat, that one you love. Personalize it and share it with the world. This is your jam, and it’s yours for up to seven days. Change it whenever you want, but choose wisely. You only have one!


vzaar is an online video hosting service, which launched in 2007. The site supports video streaming, embedding, sharing, and video storage. Originally targeted at eBay sellers, the service expanded in 2008 and now provides online video services designed for business and other commercial operations.


zeebox is a social networking and social television platform available for mobile devices, including iPad, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10 and web. zeebox provides contextual information second-by-second as people watch TV. This information includes which friends are watching the same shows right now and what is seen and heard within the broadcast.


Zemanta is a platform for assisted on-line content production for any web user. A blog, an article or a web page is fed it into its system which then recognizes the content and returns suggested images, smart links, keywords and relevant related stories from the Internet. It can be referenced from a user’s preferred content publishing platform through a plug-in.


If there are any UK based API companies I've missed, make sure at let me know @kinlane. Next I'll work my way through each EU country, getting to know more about what API innovation is coming out of the rest of Europe.

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#APIStrat Is Where The Key API Conversations Are Happening

I’m working with Phil Legetter (@leggetter) to put together a panel at API Strategy & Practice in Amsterdam on APIs and realtime, and as I’m working to bring together the leaders from the space together, I can’t help but think of past APIStrat panels. At APIStrat we are looking to pull together the leaders from different business sectors and have a conversation on where we are, and where things are going with trends like API aggregation, automation, design, BaaS and realtime.

At APIStrat, NYC 203 we brought together the leaders from the backend as a service (BaaS) space, including Ilya Sukhar (@ilyasu) of Parse, Morgan Bickle (@morganbickle) of Kinvey, Marc Weil (@marcweil) of Cloudmine, Miko Matasumura (@mikojava) of Kii, Ty Amell (@tyamell) of StackMob James Tamplin (@jamestamplin) of Firebase, resulting in a pretty interesting discuss about what is BaaS, and the future of the fast growing trend in using APIs for mobile development.

Fast-forward to March of 2014, Parse has been acquired by Facebook, Stackmob acquired by Paypal and shut-down just last week, and the speed at which the tech sector moves is really evident. I started tracking on BaaS in 2011, and just 3 years later the space has evolved fast—making conversations like the APIStrat BaaS panel critical in helping shape the industry.

As APIs + realtime technologies gain in popularity amongst startups and leading tech companies, its time to get together and have a conversation with leading tech companies in the realtime space like Pusher, Pubnub, Firebase, and Fanout.io to name a few. Much like BaaS, the important conversations around key trends in API like realtime, will be occurring at APIStrat.

These conversations are why the 3Scale team and API Evangelist put on #APIStrat, and look forward to you being part of these important discussions. Make sure you are registered for API Strategy & Practice in Amsterdam, March 26-28th.

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What Is The Future Of Backend As A Service (BaaS)?

I’ve been tracking on BaaS since 2011, and identified it was an important layer of the API space, dedicated to serving up the resources that mobile developers were needing to be successful. BaaS is all about creating meaningful stacks of API driven resources, allowing developers to build on top of a single backend, and not have to assemble their own from disparate open source tools, cloud service and individual API providers.

During 2012 I saw the momentum picking up around BaaS and made sure I included it in my monitoring of the API space, resulting in a BaaS white paper, which I will be updating for 2014 to include recent shifts towards the enterprise. In February 2013, 3Scale and API Evangelist also brought together Ilya Sukhar (@ilyasu) of Parse, Morgan Bickle (@morganbickle) of Kinvey, Marc Weil (@marcweil) of Cloudmine, Miko Matasumura (@mikojava) of Kii, Ty Amell (@tyamell) of StackMob James Tamplin (@jamestamplin) of Firebase to talk about the fast growing BaaS space at API Strategy & Practice in NYC—resulting in a pretty heated exchange between Ilya and Tye, which is ironic since these were the two acquisitions we saw in 2013 (which I alluded to at the closing of the panel, but you will have to watch for yourself).

Here we are in 2014, Parse has been acquired by Facebook, and Stackmob has been acquired by Paypal. While Parse is still functioning as a viable BaaS platform, we got the news this week that Stackmob was shutting down as of May, no longer supporting developers. I think Parse and Stackob are the poster children for amazing new resources that capture the attention of developers, and while not all of them go away when acquisitions occur, it is something developers have become all to familiar with, and need to build in their own operational plans.

I don’t think we can blame Stackmob for their decision, I’m sure many of you entrepreneurs will be faced with the same decision when you reach your goal of acquisition, I don’t think every exit will be as positive as Parse’s was with Facebook—which seems more of a partnership than acquisition. I asked Sravish Sridhar (@sravish), CEO of Kinvey to get his thoughts on the recent announcement from Stackmob:

“..all the initial BaaS vendors built compelling platforms with very useful features for mobile developers, however it's very difficult to create a sustainable and long-term business by just solving Backend issues for individual developers, especially with just Series-A funding, the market to build a business is with the enterprise. Those that couldn't make the transition have since been acquired. Now companies like Kinvey, AnyPresence and FeedHenry are maturing in the enterprise market.”

This future of BaaS providers is pretty clear to me, with Kinvey’s latest move to launch a dedicated backend-as-a-service (BaaS) platform for enterprise developers. While we all have hopes that the world of open development will provide enough revenue to support the release of the best products and services, the money is with the enterprise—especially when you have accepted money from VC’s, which is essential to delivering at scale, you will have to follow the money.

As with other trends in the API space like real-time, reciprocity, aggregation and voice, we will see lots of innovation from newcomers, but as these sectors mature, winners will emerge, losers will go away, consolidation will occur—as a developer do you have this inevitable aspect of the tech world built into your operational plans?

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Is Your API Ready For Wholesale?

As the number of public APIs grows well beyond 10K, expecting that developers will discover, let alone come to your developers area regulary will be reduced to just a fantasy. In this new API driven economy, your API will need to be decoupled, portable, and available in a wholesale manner, allowing other API providers to hang your valuable API resources in their own developers area.

If your API is developed in a simple, standard way, described using a common API definition format like Swagger, API Blueprint or RAML, your account provisioning and management has an API, and terms of service (TOS) are flexible--you will be bundled with leading API platforms, available in the growing number of backend as a service (BaaS) platforms, and easily listed in API hubs like Mashape and APIHub.

In 2014 it won’t be enough to just have an API and a developer area with all the essential building blocks, you need to make sure your API is ready for re-use and re-sale. Sure we all want to be the Twilio of the API universe, but in reality we need developers to use our resources. Of course this approach to API deployment won’t be for every API, some resources just can’t be resold like this, but for many of the API resources I’m seeing in the space, it will be the difference between life or death.

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The Backend As A Service Space Is Maturing

I just got off the phone with a new Backend as a Service provider BizMobify, who is looking to deliver BaaS services to the enterprise. The timing for the call couldn't be better, as I'm updating up my BaaS white paper this week, and one thing I'm expanding is looking at it through the enterprise lens.

As I dust off my research on BaaS I'm re-visiting my BaaS research site and re-watching the BaaS Panel from API Strategy & Practice in NYC last February. This is helping me understand where the space what last winter and early spring.

As we move into the last quarter of 2013 I'm reminded of how fast the BaaS space is maturing. There are new providers continuing to enter the space, but I also see continued energy and releases from the BaaS leaders like Parse and Kinvey.

Kinvey, AnyPresence and StackMob will all be at #APIStrat on October 24th and 25th in San Francisco. While we won't be having another BaaS focused panel, they will be sharing their insight on the space in separate sessions.

From my vantage point I see BaaS providers being a key channel for API providers to reach developers in 2014, and definitely an area I will keep tracking on and working to understand.

If you are an API provider, you should be paying attention to BaaS providers, because they offer a channel for your API resources to reach developers. Developers may not care about your resource all by itself, but when bundled with the best of breed BaaS tools as well as other API resources, it may look much more appealing.

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Virtual Containers, Stacks, APIs And Application Management

I've been trying to organize my thoughts around emerging trends in using virtualized app containers, that are providing a much more modular approach to deploying and managing application backends. This is an evolution of earlier thoughts I've had around virtual API stacks.

From the last week, I'm looking at three separate approaches to application and API management using virtualized containers:

Docker - The Linux Container Engine
Docker is an open-source engine which automates the deployment of applications as highly portable, self-sufficient containers. Docker containers are both hardware-agnostic and platform-agnostic, allowing them to run anywhere, freeing you from having to use a particular language, framework or packaging system--making them great building blocks for deploying and scaling web apps, databases and backend services without depending on a particular stack or provider.

Heroku - Application Instances with Portable Features and Dependencies
Heroku fork lets you create unique, running instances of existing applications in a single command, making it fast and simple to set up homogenous development, staging and production environments. Heroku pipelines then lets you define the relationship between apps and easily promote from one app to another using what is known as a "slug". On Heroku, a slug is a bundle of your source, fetched dependencies, the language runtime, and compiled/generated output of the build system, ready for execution in development or production environments.

StackMob - BaaS Development and Production Workflows
StackMob has its own unique approach application development workflow which includes use integrated SDKs, and custom configuration for establishing an applications separate development and production environments. Then using this separate environment, Stackmob offers multiple concurrent APIs in production through the use of API snapshots which ensures backwards compatibility of your app over time.

Docker, definitely offers the widest opportunity for what I'm talking about because it is an open source container solution. But it is interesting to see how Heroku is applying this concept to app management at the PaaS level, and how Stackmob is providing a very portable, flexible and backwards compatible API stack for use at the BaaS level.

While we have a long way to go, I think we are getting closer to being able to easily define, meaningful stacks of API resources. I envision a future where I can set out to build an app, bring together exactly the API driven resources I will need from private and public resources, into a single virtualized stack.

Borrowed from Docker Site

As a developer I will be able to deploy this stack in development or production environments, take advantage of single application authentication approach without having to go out to each API and get separate application tokens.

Virtualized API resource stacks will have all the monitoring, versioning, scalability I will need allowing me to run them in any environment, helping me keep track of changes and evolution not just in the stack of resources, but also my applications.

These virtualized stacks can be designed for web, mobile or tablets as well as any Internet of Things implementation providing me with instant, secure, modular backends for home, car, sensor and any Internet connected object we can dream up in the future.

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Simple API Example: Company Listing

I'm always looking for dead simple examples of what an API is to help average folk understand what APIs are, and how they can be applied in their worlds.

My current research on backend as a service providers (BaaS) providers a great example. On my research site i provide listing of BaaS providers for my readers:

This listing of companies is a pretty common occurence on the web. As a web developer, if I want to show this listing I use HTML, which is markup that provides a visual formatting for this listing:

HTML makes content presentable for humans. Now if I want to make this same content available for other web sites and applications, instead of using HTML, I will use another open format called JSON, which is easy for other computers and applications to consume.

In this particular case, I provide an HTML listing of BaaS providers, as well as a JSON listing. I actually use the JSON file to display the HTML, using a JavaScript templating library called Mustache.

In addition to a static HTML and JSON listing of BaaS providers, I also provide an API which returns the same content as the JSON file, but allows you to do queries and get only the BaaS companies you are looking for. All of my data works this wa by providing:

  • HTML - An HTML listing meant for humans to view.
  • JSON - A JSON listing meant for developers to use in other sites and apps.
  • API - An API allowing querying, filtering and other dynamic access.

This process always starts with API driven data, and I produce the HTML from my APIs. This is the beauty of API first. You can generate your web content from it, being the first user of all your APIs. Then encourage others to syndicate content by providing them with simple scripts for displaying HTML listings, driven from JSON and / or your API.

The only difference between web site content and an API is the resulting output, if it is a website--we use HTML. If its an API--we use JSON. Both websites and APIs using the same mechanisms of the web, specifically HTTP to deliver this data.

To provide machine readable JSON version of your content, or even more dynamic representations via APIs, you don't need special technology or skills. If you are developing websites, you have the skills to make the same content machine readable and potentially much more syndicatable, re-usable and accessible with APIs.

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Hacker Storytelling: Open and Machine Readable By Default

The primary reason I'm switching all of my 35+ research projects in the API space to my new Hacker Storytelling format, is to make everything I do open and machine readable by default.

Every project I'm working on is a Github project, with the public side of the research always available via an API Evangelist subdomain and pointed at a Github page. I publish a series of static pages, wrapped in an API evangelist template, combined with a blog to help organize my curated news and analysis in a chronological way.

Along with all the pages and blog I make all data available as JSON files, which I display across the research project using JavaScript templates. My goal is to make every bit of my research machine readable by default, and ensure the widest possible re-use and distribution.

One active example of this in the wild, is my research around backend as a service, also known as Baas. I've been monitoring all the providers in the space for the last year, and tracking on some of the common building blocks they use, much like I have been doing with APIs for last three years.

As part of my BaaS research I've published two datasets:

You can view the data on the website, using JavaScript templates that display the JSON data on HTML pages. When you view the page that lists the BaaS providers or the common BaaS building blocks, you can choose to get at the data behind the display as JSON, via API, as well as being able to grab the script I use to display the JSON data.

All of my research is ongoing, and I publish news, analysis and new companies and research on a regular basis. My goal with this evolving approach, is to remove machine readable from being after thought, making it default in all my work.

With data available via JSON and API, everything published publicly via Github, in lightweight formats like HTML, CSS, JavaScript and JSON, combined with a CC BY licensing, everything in my world is open and machine readable by default.

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The Expanding API Evangelist Network

As the API universe expands, I'm trying my best to stay in tune with where its going and try to help people understand the space, whether you are a newbie or API veteran--I want you to find what you are looking for at API Evangelist.

To support the fast moving space, as well as my ADHD working style, I've broken up API Evangelist into individual projects. Each project runs using my Hacker Storytelling format, which in short means each projects lives as a Githb repository, allowing me to publish the research, data, short form and long form content to an open source repository that anyone can browse, fork and download.

To help you (and me) see the entire API Evangelist network, i wanted to publish an outline of all 37 projects I'm curently working on:

API 101

Provide APIs (Landing Page)

Consume APIs (Landing Page)

Resource Stack (NEW)

  • Payments *
  • Social *

Trends (Landing Page)

Opportunities (Landing Page)

Priorities (Landing Page)


  • Analyze *
  • Archive *
  • Visualize *

* Projects that are still in progress of being setup

My goal with this new format that I've rolled out over the last six months, is to give me specific project areas to do research within, each week. Some projects will get love an attention, while others will simmer in the background--moving everything forward in small chunks.

All of these projects are accessible via landing pages on API Evangelist, which I will be keeping as the main portal for the business of APIs.  You can also find my work on the politics of APIs at API Voice, and you can keep up with my weekly monitoring via The API Stack, which is the seed for all of these projects.

Each project is meant to produce the following output:

  • Blog Posts - Stories and analysis from each area of the API space
  • Research Data - Lists of companies, individuals, APIs, tools and building blocks
  • Research Links - Curated links to important work by others in the space
  • Presentation / Talks - Presentations and talks I've given around the world
  • White Papers - Long form, summary white papers providing overview of individual projects
  • Blue Prints - Specific blue prints of how to execute specific campaigns within the API space

The research for some of these projects is funded by my partner network, while much of it is done on my own steam. If you are interested in making sure specific projects happen, please feel free to reach out and get involved.

I will be adding projects in the future, and you may see some of the existing projects stagnate from time to time, when I run out of time, or it might be possible the space is not producing new work. Based upon page views, funding, time and other variables projects will rise to the top.

Thanks to everyone who supports what I'm doing, its been an amazing 3 years so far. I look forward to the next 3 years.


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Some Trends in API Usage

Some Trends in API Usage

Its not the early days of API mashups anymore, there are numerous new ways that API usage is evolving--further connecting the data and resources we need to build the next generation of web and mobile apps.  Here are just a few of the emerging trends in the API space:

API Aggregation
Innovative startups are applying API aggregation concepts using social and personal data, combining services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other services into single API stacks. The goal of API aggregators is to shorten time for developers to go from on-boarding to finished app, by providing devs a fabric that weaves together common objects like friends, images, status and check-in into a aggregate API platform.

API Reciprocity
API reciprocity allows for the flow of information between the common platforms we depend on for our daily operations. In the enterprise this has been known as Extract Transform and Load (ETL), but in this new API world it is not about data sources, but cloud services across the Internet. This new approach requires acknowledging terms of service and user privacy agreements made via oAuth--allowing for reciprocity for platform owners, but also end users, alowing anyone, even non-developers to take advantage of APIs.

Backend as a Service
With the growth in the number of mobile devices like iPhone from Apple, Android from Google, Windows Phones from Microsoft and the historic contender Blackberry, a new breed of mobile backend as a service or BaaS providers are emerging to meet the demand for building, deploying and managing the mobile app life-cycle.

Real-time approaches to deploying APIs involve technological approaches like PubSubHub, Websockets and Webhooks, can be as simple as an SMS or email sent when there is an update or utilizing streaming APIs to create full, two-way communications between application and platforms using APIs. Real-time functionality is being expected by end-users, and developers are using APIs to meet this demand.

These are just a handful of the trends emerging around APIs. There are over 10K public APIs available currently, with many more private APIs being used to drive business at the SMB, SME and Enterprise levels. APIs are not just driving developers to innovate while building web and mobile applications. APIs, and the resulting trends are empowering anyone, even non-developers to put valuable API driven resources to work every day.

See The Full Blog Post

New Features From BaaS Provider AnyPresence

I'm adding some new BaaS features I found in a recent press release from BaaS provider AnyPresence titled, "AnyPresence Launches 4th-Generation Mobile Backend-as-a-Service Platform with Unparalleled Enterprise Capabilities", to my list of BaaS features.  As I'm processing them I notice they are some pretty significant features:

  • Application Cloning - For organizations looking to build multiple apps that have common core functionality with only minor variations, this powerful feature allows them to create a copy of an existing app along with all data source, object, and user interface definitions, saving significant development effort.
  • Automated App UI Testing - Developers who use AnyPresence to generate a starter mobile app user interface (UI), now get the added benefit of functional test scripts for native iOS, native Android, and jQuery Mobile web apps. These test scripts can be run to ensure the app is interacting with backend functionality as expected, saving time in testing and improving reliability.
  • Custom Server Extensions - While developers have always been able to add custom code to objects within AnyPresence, they can now create re-usable “Extensions” that can be shared across teams or lines of business. This also enables third parties to encapsulate their services as official AnyPresence Extensions, enabling a marketplace of add-ons that can be used across the AnyPresence customer base.
  • Enterprise App Store Integration - AnyPresence now supports the ability to deploy apps to employees directly via enterprise app stores powered by Mobile Application Management (MAM) or Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors. Apperian EASE is first MAM partner solution to be integrated directly with the AnyPresence Designer.
  • Cloud Infrastructure Management - For the default cloud backend server deployment to Heroku, administrators can now control the performance characteristics of their app, and choose from hundreds of Heroku add-ons, directly from the AnyPresence Designer. This seamless integration enables developers to plan for the required capacity and usage of each individual backend server instance, and manage them from one central location.

It can be difficult to interpret each BaaS provider's products and services, and establish any sort of common definition, but applicaiton cloning, automated testing, custom server extensions and enterprise app stores are pretty straight-forward and powerful BaaS features.

I'm curious to see where AnyPresence goes with their custom extensions.  I think whoever can do this part of BaaS correctly will win the BaaS world championships! (That is an award, right?)

Lot's of exciting stuff coming from the BaaS sector lately!  Fun space to watch.

See The Full Blog Post

Overview Of Backend as a Service (BaaS) White Paper

I've been working on expanding the amount of research and writing I can do via API Evangelist lately. In the last couple weeks I rolled out new projects in three areas: API Toolkits, API Trends, API Priorities. This new approach is helping me focus on the areas I think are most important or exciting to the API space and generate as much, high quality news, analysis and white papers for the API space as I can.

The first of my white papers, using my new approach is finished. The new paper is called Overview Of The Backend as a Service (BaaS) Space, and is the aggregation of all my research into the BaaS space. Here is a breakdown of the white paper:

  • What is BaaS?
  • How Does BaaS Differ From IaaS and PaaS?
  • What Are The Benefits of BaaS?
  • What Can You Build With BaaS?
  • Who Are The Top BaaS Providers?
  • What Are The Common Building Blocks of BaaS?
  • What Are the Common Approaches to BaaS Pricing?
  • What Are The Other Approaches to BaaS Pricing?
  • Who Are The Other BaaS Providers?
  • Watch Out As 1000lb Gorillas Set Their Sights on BaaS Space!
  • What Makes BaaS Relevant to APIs?
  • The Future Is About Virtualized Mobile Operating Systems
  • Investment in BaaS
  • What Are The Opportunities in BaaS?
  • Summing Up BaaS
  • Appendix A: Full List of BaaS Features
  • Appendix B: Curated News Sources

Much of the research, news, analysis and data that went into this white paper is available at baas.apievangelist.com. As I do with most of my work, I will be publishing all my BaaS research to this Github project, allowing anyone to view, fork or download. The BaaS project will also have a full version, available as a PDF for $99.00. My goal is to subsidize my research via sales of white papers and the support of my partners. If you can't afford, tune into the BaaS project, but if you'd like to support what I do you can purchase a copy.

I'm working on other papers that are part of all of my API ToolkitsAPI Trends and API Priorities research areas. If you'd like to get more access to my research, news, analysis and data, or would like to support what I do, please let me know.

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The Future Is About Virtualized Operating Systems

BaaS stacks have the potential to be the operating of the next generation of computing. BaaS has a lot of the characteristics of what we have historically defined as an OS, but tailored for apps that run on devices and in the clouds vs the desktop.

  • Windows OS - Think of what the Windows operating system did for computing. It brought together a meaningful stack of resources into a single stack that could be installed on the new world of personal computers (PC).  Windows provided application developers with a single platform they could build apps, targeting PC users.  Windows provided a basic set of API resources developers could use, but ultimately it was open for the ecosystem to innovate in any business sector they desired.
  • Server OS - When it comes to the server, many developers have migrated from desktop to web via Windows server operating systems.  While to others they think of other OS flavors like Linux, BSD.  These server environments provide developers with a base operating system for interfacing with user management, file system, database access and other libraries or APIs to develop either server side, network or web applications.  
  • Cloud (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) - Cloud providers have moved the OS into the clouds--enabling developers to build at three different levels, providing a base OS, with set of often API driven resources for delivering site and apps to end users.  The operating system has moved onto the world wide web, allowing for an entirely different approach to application development, usage and monetization.
  • Virtualized BaaS OS - BaaS isn't just a new type of business.  BaaS is a new way to deliver operating systems tailored for mobile and the next generation of devices, sensors and the Internet of Things.  BaaS delivers the compute, storage, messaging and other essential OS features, while also bringing together other, potentially distributed resources in a single meaningful system for mobile developers to operate on and provide a meaningful experience for their users.

Using BaaS, providers can deliver virtualized operating system stacks, for general purposes, much like Windows has served for decades or deliver specialized operating systems meant specifically for telco or healthcare.  Imagine virtualized OS stacks that could be delivered to support fixed installations like the energy grid or telco installations, all the way to temporary, high demand situations like disaster recovery or large scale events.

BaaS will allow us to keep much of the potential delivered by a hardened set of resources we become accustomed to with desktop and server OS's, but also realize the agility and flexibility that is delivered by loosely coupled, individual API resources.  Allowing for a new approach to app design, development, deployment and life-cycle management that is much more organic and alive.

See The Full Blog Post

Summing It All Up

BaaS is an evolution.  Its not a revolution, gamer changer or ground breaking new technology.  It is a logical response to the demand for mobile applications and how to logically bring together individual API driven resources into a loosely couple stack, that will allow mobile developers to build apps more efficiently.

If we do this right, we can meet the demand of our growing need for apps on our mobile and tablet devices as well as the backend compute resources needed for the other areas of the growing, Internet connected world. 

This white paper ws authored by Kin Lane, of API Evangelist.  Other stories, as well as short form or long form analysis on this subject, and supporting open data can be found at http://baas.apievangelist.com.

This document is a living white paper and will change month to month as the BaaS industry evolves.  You can download and fork the project via Github and access all the content, news, analysis as well as data sets from the research.

Since this document is a living white paper, it may contain minor errors in formatting, grammar or spelling.  Please let me know and I'll correct for the next revision.



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Investment in BaaS

As BaaS evolves, we are seeing the huge investment from numerous start-ups, as well as grabbing the attention of a handful of larger tech companies, but we are also seeing the first signs of major investment in the space.  

  • Facebook Acquisition of Parse - Facebook recently acquired on of the top BaaS providers in the space, Parse.  While there has been rumors swirling around the tech space for some time, regarding Facebook's desires to manufacture their own mobile device and possibly their own mobile operating system to rival iOS and Android, the Parse acquisition seems a little closer to reality. Facebook's investment in the BaaS space acknowledges that mobile dominance won't always be about device dominance, and the potential of well tuned, meaningful, virtualized stacks of resources for mobile developers.  Facebook is looking to invest in mobile and BaaS represents that path forward.  
  • Intel Investment in BaaS - In the same timeline as the Parse acquisition,  BaaS platform FeedHenry announces a 9M investment from Intel Capital--showing more investment in mobile by the chip-maker.  Revealing more of the mobile aspirations of Intel, the chip-maker recently announced the acquisition of enterprise mobile service provider Aeopona. 
  • Lucent Mobile Acquisition of Proxomo - Lucent Mobile, Inc. reached a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Proxomo Software, Inc., a BaaS provider. As part of the transaction, Lucent Mobile, Inc. a private investor-backed company will operate going forward under the Proxomo name.

This is just a small slice of the investment going on in the space.  To understand the market opportunity, white papers such as the report published by MarketsandMarkets. will provide that, but to understand the innovation opportunity, much more experimentation and research needs to occur on exactly what resources current developers are needing to truly be successful.

The research and development environment for the future of API resources will play out within the BaaS industry, through the efforts of small start-ups as well as from the major tech companies.


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What Makes BaaS Relevant to APIs?

Unless you are a BaaS provider or a mobile application developer, the linkage between BaaS and APIs may not be immediately clear. But once you study the space, you quickly notice that APIs are the heart of BaaS, providing platforms with the flexibility and resources they need to meet mobile developers needs.

BaaS and APIs are working together in several ways:

  • Native BaaS APIs - Each BaaS provider offers up a default set of REST APIs for manipulating core data and object stores, providing programmatical access to almost every part of the BaaS platform
  • Custom APIs - Most BaaS providers allow for the design, deployment and configuration of custom REST APIs from data an objects defined via the system. Turning many BaaS platforms into API deployment frameworks, opening up a whole new channel for development
  • Deploy BaaS Platforms - The growth in number of APIs resources, coupled with the BaaS movement opens up the opportunity for new providers to step up and deliver BaaS stacks, using their own API resources, bundled 3rd party APIs or a combination of the two.
  • An API Blueprint - The patterns that are emerging among BaaS providers provide an excellent blueprint of what types of API resources mobile developers are demanding.  Closely watching the BaaS space has potential to provide a blueprint of what API resources are in demand, which aren't and potential opportunities for new API resources.

BaaS is a natural progression of APIs from single uses to meaningful stacks of resources for developers. As the number of APIs a developer might use in an app grew from 1 or 2, to potentially 10 separate APIs, the need for aggregation and consolidation of resources grew as well.  Mobile app developers don't have time or resources to maintain infrastructure as well as discover, qualify, integrate and maintain relationships with 10 separate API providers.  

APIs have helped identify and make available essential resources developers depend on like compute, storage, messaging and authentication, and within the BaaS framework, the next generation of essential API resources are being identified like geo, voice, targeting, friends and virtual commerce.  

There is a danger that BaaS will move us back to more rigid, platform approaches to application development, but BaaS has the potential to be a kind elastic glue, that will bring together authentication and other essential resources into a permanent or temporary, but meaningful stack for developers to put to use.



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What Are The Opportunities in BaaS?

API Evangelist doesn't focus on market or investment opportunities. I keep an eye out for product and innovation opportunities, which are a much different beast. These represent places where there are gaps in the delivery of API driven resources that developers will need to deliver the generation of not just apps, but compute.

There are numerous opportunities for innovation within the umbrella that is being defined as BaaS in the areas that are obvious and fast growing in market spaces.

  • Mobile - We are 2-3 years into the solid growth of the mobile smartphone market.  This is nothing new.  But with the adoption rate, the hype and the potential within emerging markets, we can ignore the opportunity within the mobile sphere. As the demand for mobile apps grow, the demand for efficiencies in mobile app development will grow exponentially. If a business can efficiently go to market with steady flow of high quality apps designed for web, mobile and a wide variety of mobile platforms, it will succeed in the current space
  • Tablets - Tablets are displacing the desktop, and even laptop computers. The world of developing apps for mobile is rapidly morphing into a blurry world of hundreds of different devices from iOS to Android.  There is a lot of potential for delivering BaaS platforms that focus specifically on the needs of emerging tablet devices across manufacturers
  • Readers -Devices are blurring the lines between phone, tablet and dumb terminals. Across the publishing industry, from providers like Amazon and Barnes & Nobles, we are seeing reader devices like the Kindle and Nook.  As we see publishing applications like Flipboard and Zite find an audience we will see a growth in demand for backend services that support reader and other consumption focused devices
  • Niche - Most BaaS providers are about delivering a general purpose stack of resources, allowing developers to design, develop and deploy apps across any business sector.  Among the current pool of BaaS providers there are already the emergence of niche or specialty platforms in the area of gaming, e-commerce and advertising.  There is a lot of opportunity to deliver BaaS platforms that deliver specialized area such as education, finance, government or beyond.
  • Transport - Technology is penetrating every aspect of our daily lives. Automobiles are becoming a platform for digital deliver, with auto companies like Ford and GM getting into the API game. BaaS is a universal backend platform that can be tailored to any implementation.  Our vehicles will have very different requirements if we are a soccer mom or a fleet of delivery vehicles in NYC. Lots of opportunities to understand the world of BaaS in the service of transportation.
  • Internet of Things - The Internet of Things is the catch all bucket for "everything else" in the world of Internet enabled devices.  We put everything from quantified self and 3D printing to smart grid technology into the Internet of Things bucket.  This is the biggest, yet to be fully explored opportunity in BaaS.  With the special needs of the power grid or public water supply it only makes sense there would be backends dedicated to each sector.  This leaves a whole world of opportunity and speculation within the Internet of Things.

When it comes to delivering a precise, meaningful backend that drives technology, there will be unlimited opportunities for new platforms.  When you view BaaS as a relevant stack of valuable API resources, bundled with a sensible business model, the model can be applied into many business sectors.

Beyond just mobile, tablets, readers and niche opportunity, once the world of Internet of Things expands, the opportunity for BaaS to connect our physical worlds to our virtual worlds will be unlimited.

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The API Pipes, From Resource to Last Mile

This post is more rant, and about me working through my thoughts on this subject, which is why its on kinlane.com and not apievangelist.com or apivoice.com.  This post is an aggregation of ongoing thoughts I'm having around my role in the API space, a diagram I drew the other day while enjoying an IPA, and inescapable thoughts fueled up by a post by Patrick Meir over at iRevolution, called Crisis Mapping, Neogeography and the Delusion of Democratization.  

Meir kicks up a bunch of thoughts related to how I perceive my role in the API space, which I believe is to help keep a certain amount of oxygen (aka open) present in the space, which I believe is the key ingredient in why the expirement we know as APIs is working.  At first glance, API Evangelist looks like just a blog, but in reality it is a pretty complex system of data stores, API connectors, jobs and curation that I'm using to help draw a map of the API space that I can follow. Currently it looks something like this:

The way I see the space, is there are a shitload of resources, awaiting to be exposed via APIs that are both public and private resources. The stewards of these resources have the ability to select from tools and resources to deploy their API resources, using various building blocks for accomplishing this.

API as a Service
Additional to standing up your own API, there is the phenonmenon known as BaaS, PaaS and SaaS.  Many of these platforms can actually help you deploy API resources, while also consuming and deploying resources of their own.  For example, Kinvey allows you to deploy generic APIs from data stores you setup on their BaaS platform, bt they also consume API resources and makes available to you from eBay, and other places, while also providing you with their own API resources that you can use to rapidly deploy mobile apps. This layer is complex, lots to think aobut here.

Top APIs
There is a breed of API resources that are changing the landscape, both in whats available and how you do it.  Leaders like Twilio, SendGrid, Amazon Web Services, Google and others are providing API resources and approaches to delivering API resources in ways that are influencing the API economy in big ways.  These players stand out, and are worthy of identifying as separate group.

API consumers have to be able to find API resources.  Historically we've only had ProgrammableWeb for this, but we are seeing growth in number of directories, IDE integrations and other evolutions in how we describe, share and discover APIs.  

There are several evolving approaches to using APIs that deliver entirely new use cases for APIs, enabling new value that API providers and consumers can tap into.  API aggregation from providers like Singly are bringing together existing API resources into easier to use, aggregated interfaces.  Reciprocity providers like Zapier and IFTTT allow resources and value to transfer between API platforms in the clouds and behind the firewall.  Application frameworks like ql.io, are changing how we bridge APIs and rapidly build API driven web and mobile applications.  Real-time providers like Firebase and Pusher are connecting and providing APIs that make the exchange of API driven resources real-time.  These are just a of the few of the new areas of API enablement I'm seeing emerge.

Platform providers like BaaS, PaaS and Saas, plus the enablers, discovery services and top APIs all represent reseller and partnership opportunities for individual companies deploying API resources.  This is the wholesale world of getting your API found as well as being baked into an existing consumer base.  Without a reseller or partner layer to your API, you are just a single API in a ever growing flood of API resources.

Last Mile
However, this is all just the piping or tubes of this fascinating new API driven economy.  The entire purpose of having these API pipes is to deliver the "last mile".  APIs began by delivering resources to distributed web sites, and enabling sharing and embeddable widgets and buttons.  With the birth of the cloud, APIs began delivering wholesale infrastructure resources for use indistributed cloud environments. Then with mobile we saw the demand for APIs skyrocket--what will it do with big data, sensors, devices, cars, home and building and beyond? 

Which brings me back to my role as API Evangelist.  I feel compelled to keep the discussion of the pipes occuring within all the "last mile" conversations.  I understand the VC's and companies under their control want to monetize the last mile.  This is fine.  But I want to prevent the API pipes from getting paved over in the process.  

I want ANYONE to be able to get at the pipes behind the tablet applications their children use.  I want ANYONE to be able to get at the data that went into any infographic, visualzation or report.  I want ANYONE to understand the pipes that connect our physical worlds via sensors, devices to our online worlds.  

I want the pipes to stay open, accessible, transparent and part of ALL "last mile" conversations.  Which brings me back to Patrick Meir article.  There were several key quotes I'm processing in regards to how I view API resources, API pipes and the last mile API Products that are derived from them:

Feenberg’s own view is constructivist, “emphasizing that technology development is humanly controlled and encapsulates values and politics; it should thus be open to democratic control and intervention.” In other words, “technology can and should be seen as a result of political negotiations that lead to its production and use. In too many cases, the complexities of technological systems are used to concentrate power within small groups of technological, financial, and political elites and to prevent the wider body of citizens from meaningful participation in shaping it and deciding what role it should have in the everyday.”

“Meaning Hacking" is often hijacked by "Deep Technical Hackers"

Democratizing information flows and access; promoting Open Data and Do it Yourself (DIY)

Innovation with free, highly hackable (i.e., open source) technology; letting go of control.

"the artful alteration of technology beyond the goals of its original design or intent,” enables “Deep Democratization"

"Freely pro-viding the hackable building blocks for DIY Innovation is one way to let go of control and democratize"

"The control over the information is kept, by and large, by major corporations and the participant’s labor is enrolled in the service of these corporations, leaving the issue of payback for this effort a moot point. Significantly, the primary intention of the providers of the tools is not to empower communities or to include marginalized groups, as they do not re-present a major source of revenue."

There are so many lessons to be absorbed from CrisisMapping and Neogeography, when it comes to the API economy.  Sorry for just posting these quotes as just a list, but I'm still absorbing and just needed them published in single place, so I can reference and re-read while thinking on this subject.  (Thats right, I read my own blog!)

I don't think there are any easy answers here.  I just want to make sure we keep the conversation including the pipes and not just about the resources and last mile products delivered on top of the pipes.  So we don't cutoff the oxygen needed for the API economy to work for EVERYONE!

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Next Generation of API Driven Analytics and Visualizations

API driven analytics and visualizations is one of the new areas of API usage I'm tracking on. There are many “big data” platforms emerging these days, but I’m looking for dead simple tools and services anyone can use to generate analytics and visualizations via APIs.

Think of reciprocity providers like IFTT, Zapier and Elastic.io. These new API driven service providers, make it easy to migrate data between cloud services, using a simple set of source API, triggers, actions and target APIs--with a dead simple icon and wizard based UI, allowing any user to put the platform to work.

I want this approach for embeddable analytics, visualizations and other widgets that are easily generated via APIs. Last week I came across a new platform called Ducksboard, which allows you to easily generate some pretty sophisticated analytical widgets from common API sources. The platform even comes with a marketplace where you can find other widgets. The only problem is that Duckboards is meant to generate dashboards, and not really open and portable widgets.  We'll keep an eye on this platform, see where it goes.

Then last night I came across Keen IO, an analytics Backend as a Service (BaaS) platform that lets developers build analytics features directly into their apps, from common API services. Keen IO provides a pretty sophisticated workbench for building embeddable charts, metrics and other analytics or visualizations that you can render anywhere, using iOS, Android, JavaScript, Ruby, Python and Java libraries they provide.

At first glance, this space can feel just like earlier waves of widget building platforms of the Web 1.0 & 2.0 worlds. But I think we hadn’t reached critical mass, in the number of available API resources, as well as an awareness of APIs in general, in order to realize the true potential of widgets. I think we are getting closer in 2013.

I’m optistic that a new breed of API driven analytics and visualization tools will emerge making dead simple, icon based interfaces that allow anyone to generate useful widgets from valuable API resources and embed them anywhere on the open web or in private portals.

Are there any other similar platforms that I'm missing?

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A 3rd Party API Showcase for Your API

I stumbled across the Twitter Counter API in my monitoring for the API Stack this morning. The Twitter Counter API allows you to retrieve key metrics on any Twitter account like username, url and avatar.  All data you can get via the Twitter API, but with Twitter Counter API you get additional information like account growth statistics and ranking, that Twitter doesn't provide at all.

I find it fascinating that someone can build an API to augment an existing API, which is why I keep talking about it, I guess :) We are seeing a more standardized version of this with API aggregation providers like Singly and Adigami, where they not only aggregate APIs from a variety of sources, they also build entirely new APIs based the added value that is created after they are brought together.

Thinking about if further, it would be cool if you could submit your API to be listed in your parent API providers API area. Think of APIhub and Mashape, but every API area would have its own 3rd API marketplace. API providers often allow 3rd party developers to submit code libraries and samples to be listed as resources, as well as applications for listing in an application showcase. So it makes sense to potetially allow for your developers to submit APIs for validation and publishing into a designated area.

It seems to me that we shouldn’t exist as islands, we should be able to invite in other API resources built on top of our APIs, or that compliment our APIs. We should also have terms of use and pricing models that invite others to take our API resources and deploy in other ecosystem, building the next wave of BaaS providers that will be delivering specialized stacks of resources for developers to efficiently build mobile and web apps.

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One API Discovery Definition to Rule Them All

When I talk about API discovery, in-person at events, or on my blog(s), I notice people automatically default to thinking I mean a universal API discovery language that will work for all web APIs. I think the technologists that operate in the API space are always striving for technical perfection--resulting in the discussions that you see around REST, HATEOAS, OAuth and similarly for this one about API discovery.

I’m thankful for the passion and dedication of the technologists in this space, but when it comes to API discovery, I’m never talking about a universal language or approach. I personally just don’t believe there can be one definition to rule them all. When I reference API discovery, I’m focusing on API discovery at the provider level, and providing information and resources that allow people who launch APIs to be successful. I have no interest in defining or support a world-wide or industry level definition for API discovery. I leave these conversations to all y'all tech pundits.

I am a fan of supporting API providers to do something, anything! Sure, it should be a standardized as you feel necessary. I hope you use something that is already in existence like WADL, Swagger or I/O Docs (don’t reinvent the wheel), and make sure and look at the approach Google is taking with their API discovery service--as they have some experience in the field.

In reality though, your motivation to develop JSON or XML definitions for your API will probably be to provide interactive documentation or allow for easy generation of code libraries for your API--not discovery. With the API discovery conversation automatically defaulting to a universal definition by the tech pundits, API providers will often avoid these discussions, leaving it a lower priority when planning and implementing an API. Much like with HATEOAS, without concrete examples of value, API providers won’t see value in providing JSON or XML definitions of their APIs. Interactive docs and auto generation of code libraries are clear value propositions, and show potential for bringing discovery back to the forefront.

Once you have API definitions for all of your API endpoints, its pretty easy to publish a single manifest of all of your APIs in a single JSON (or XML) file in the root of your developer area. Sure I would love all of these definitions to be the same, but I prefer a more pragmatic approach and will accept whatever a API service provider deems suitable for their APIs, and with the resources they have available.

If you think about how web page discovery came together in late 1990s with Yahoo, then solutions provided by Google, and even new approaches from providers like DuckDuckGo. When it comes to API search and discovery, we are in circa 1997, if we compare it with web page discovery. You have directories like ProgrammableWeb, but you also have newer vendors emerging like APIhub, who potentially bring a new perspective to the table.

Since APIs are about “programmatic discovery”, I think how developers discover API will vary, occuring via these directories and hubs, but also occur via their chosen PaaS platform like Drupal, Heroku, Salesforce or with BaaS providers like Parse or Kinvey--as well as popular IDEs like Eclipse who allow for plugins.

It will up to PaaS, BaaS or other 3rd party platform providers to assemble resource stacks that are meaningful to their community. They will do the legwork to find best of breed API resources, which will be made easier if API providers provider JSON or XML definitions of their API resources, but not a requirement.

I believe that similar to website sitemaps, API discovery will have wider definitions that some follow, with successful vendor specific implementations as well, but ultimately it will remain largely imperfect and some API providers will do well, and others will implement poorly.  The markets will decide! (cringe)

My object is to help the average API provider hear stories of other successful approaches, and identify the benefits, in hopes that they will implement something, anything!  Allowing us to take baby steps forward in API discovery, not defining one definition to rule them all and nobody giving a shit, and we don't move forward at all.

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API Server Mashups Will Increase But Client Mashups Will Decline

Master API architect at Layer7 Technologies Mike Amundsen (@mamund) has a great post this week on Four Tech-Related Trends That Will Shape 2013.

One of the predictions that caught my eye was that "server mash-ups will increase but client mash-ups will decline"--he clarifies it with:

The increasing popularity of languages like Node.js, Erlang and Closure will make implementing server-side mash-ups more efficient and easier to maintain than doing the same work within a client application; especially for the mobile platform. This will reduce the “chattiness” of client-side applications and increase the security and flexibility of server-side implementations. The result will be a perceived increase in responsiveness and a reduced use of battery power on mobile apps.

As with my earlier post, individual API deployments will get smaller and more numerous, I agree 100%. This is where I’m going with my post this week on virtual API stacks. With so many individual resources available on the web, in the coming years we’ll see increased “mashing up” or “virtualization” of new stacks, that are meaningful to a particular app or group of developers.

An example of this in the wild is Singly, with their API aggregation or mashup, which is available as a service, but is also available as open source on Github as Hallway. Another recent example is potentially the OpenKit Gaming BaaS, which promised to be an open stack designed for game developers.

My predication is we’ll see many more returns from server side API mashups, than we did during the client side mashup gold rush days!  Especially if providers open source these stacks, while also offering as a service.

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Virtualized API Stacks

Up until now we tend to think of APIs individually--we approach integration in terms of the Twilio API, Twitter API or the Facebook API. But as the number of public APIs has grown beyond 8K, and an unknown amount of internal and partner APIs become available, we are seeing new patterns of aggregation and interoperability emerge from companies like Singly, but also seeing automation be added into the mix by companies like Temboo, and entire backend stacks from providers like Parse.

These new aggregated or backend stacks of API driven resources can be as general as object and key-value stores, user management and other developer commodities we see backend as a service providers (BaaS) bring to the table, or they can be very personal like the photos Singly is aggregating across Flickr, Facebook and Instagram and with friends and followers across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

As I see these new aggregate and BaaS providers emerge, at an ever increasing pace, I can’t help but think--this still isn’t fast enough (its my nature, you should try being me). If I want common mobile developer resources I can adopt one of these new BaaS platforms like Kinvey or Parse, or if I need personal and social resources, which have become part of the fabric of web and mobile apps, I can go to Singly. But what if I want a more specialized network, say just for education? I might need user management, object storage, key-value storage, access to commons social tools like friends and photos across multiple social networks, but I also need access to open courseware, teacher and student directories all via a very secure, auditable, efficient stack tailored just for K-12? I will have to wait, for the next wave of startups to emerge.

While in NYC on Friday I had a great discussion with Temboo about virtualization. Not just the virtualization we’ve come to depend on with cloud computing--which is the virtualization of compute, storage, and database resources, but the virtualization of network resources and software defined networking. Companies like Nicira, Pluribus Networks, Anuta Networks, Arista, and Vyatta are emerging with new products that are allowing the virtualization of networking resource into new and meaningful network stacks for any possible implementation that you can imagine.

After these conversation with the Temboo team, over the weekend I continued to think about the potential of virtualized API stacks. Why can’t I assemble my own API stack? Why do I have to go to each API individually, or wait for new Singlys' to emerge in other verticals? Why can’t I assemble Parse, Singly, Twilio, Schoology, SendGrid into a virtualized API stack that provides not just ease of use, but the security I need to deploy a backend tailored just for K-12 education?

In this vision of the future, API providers could focus on what they do best, and not worry about every use case out there. Providers like Singly, Temboo, Parse can build abstracted layers on top of this. With this abstraction I wouldn’t be limited to just the friends and followers features on Twitter or Facebook, I could take advantage of the next generation of friend discovery tools like what Singly is delivering--in addition to the value of individual API providers.

With a virtualized approach, I could build the stack that is most meaningful for my internal, partner or public developers and if one piece of my stack is proving unreliable, I can replace it with another. APIs resources would be further commoditized, required to provide JSON definitions of their interfaces (or die a quick death), which virtual API stack platforms could use to discover and offer API resources. API ranking algorithms would emerge allowing anyone to make sure they were discovering, selecting and using the best of breed API resources in the areas that matter for any vertical.

With a virtualized API stack I could launch any specialized set of resources that I desired from the best of breed providers out there. I could blend private and public resources together and in return offer them for use in private or public environments, further blurring the lines of what is an API and how they are consumed.

As we see APIs continue to become a driving force in government, healthcare and education and bridge the online and physical worlds via our automobiles, homes, buildings and further grow within healthcare via the quantified self, potentially disrupt manufacturing with 3D printing and drive everything around us with the internet of things--the manual assembling of individual or even aggregated API stacks won’t be enough. We will need the ability to virtualize APIs stacks for any purpose within hours, not months or years.

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History of APIs - Salesforce.com


February 7th, 2000 Salesforce.com officially launched at the IDG Demo 2000 conference.

Salesforce.com launched its enterprise-class, web-based, sales force automation as a "Internet as a service". XML APIs were part of Salesforce.com from day one. Salesforce.com identified that customers needed to share data across their different business applications, and APIs were the way to do this.

Marc R. Benioff, chairman and founder of salesforce.com stated, "Salesforce.com is the first solution that truly leverages the Internet to offer the functionality of enterprise-class software at a mere fraction of the cost."

Salesforce.com was the first cloud provider to take an enterprise class web application and API and deliver what we know today as Software-as-a-Service.

Even with SalesForce being the first mover in the world of web APIs, they are still a powerhouse in 2013.  SalesForce continues to lead when it comes to real-time APIs, testing, deployment and most recently taking a lead when it comes to mobile application development and backend as a service (BaaS).

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