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Google API management leapfrogs AWS with Apigee deal

Google API management tools get a major upgrade with Apigee to support designing and maintaining APIs to fit enterprise needs -- plus the chance to one-up market leader AWS.

Amazon may be the undisputed king of public cloud, but Google just one-upped its competitor in a space that's increasingly important to enterprise customers.

Google has agreed to acquire API management company Apigee Corp. for $625 million. It's a move to help customers securely and stably connect to outside applications and services -- and another step in Google's ongoing efforts to make its cloud platform more attractive to enterprises.

API management has become increasingly important to companies such as Workiva, a financial reporting software developer and Google cloud customer based in Ames, Iowa. The company aims to expose more of its Wdesk cloud product to be a more extensible and open platform for managing data, but it has had to do much of that in-house.

"Anything we can get to help in the areas of security, monitoring, rate limiting -- all those types of features are really helpful to companies like us to expose more application platforms through APIs," said Dave Tucker, Workiva's vice president of engineering.

Workiva looked at an early version of a Google API management suite, Google Cloud Endpoints, but found it to be targeted more at mobile clients and somewhat immature. Apigee, on the other hand, provides important capabilities, such as staging and versioning for releasing APIs in a controlled manner, Tucker said.

The timing of the Apigee deal is curious, as Google put a reworked Cloud Endpoints into a beta release just last week, with additional language support and improved performance. It's unclear if or how Google plans to integrate the two services.

Google API management leapfrogs AWS API Gateway

Security, monitoring, rate limiting -- all those types of features are really helpful to companies like us to expose more application platforms through APIs.
Dave Tuckervice president of engineering, Workiva

Amazon Web Services (AWS) released its own API management suite, API Gateway, a little over a year ago. Like many AWS offerings early in the release cycle, it has limited functionality. Apigee, on the other hand, has been on the market for years and was ranked as a leader in Gartner's most recent Magic Quadrant for Application Services Governance.

"You cannot compare API Gateway with Apigee," said Paolo Malinverno, research vice president at Gartner. "It implements 10% of the functionality of Apigee. You're comparing a shiny new Toyota with a Ferrari."

Apigee offers more than API Gateway in a host of areas, including advanced operational polices for API design and analytics, mechanisms for retiring APIs and understanding how to use APIs to add business value, Malinverno said. It also has a sizable list of high-profile customers, including AT&T, Kaiser Permanente, Pitney Bowes, Sears and Walgreens.

Many Apigee customers use the technology on premises, so integrating it with Google Cloud Platform and other Google resources will only multiply the potential benefits for customers and allow for improved use cases around internet of things and connections with Android, Malinverno said.

"On the surface, it's a big elephant like Google acquiring a little mouse, but the potential is enormous," Malinverno said.

Microservices on the horizon

With Google's strong support for container-based technologies, it will interesting to see how it implements Apigee to stand up microservices and provide a full-featured API gateway and development portal to its users, said Chris Riley, a founding partner at HKM Consulting LLC in Rochester, Mass.

"It's a hell of a lot easier for a singular platform to be the traffic cop," Riley said. "That routing component is really important to the developer who doesn't want to have to worry about all that -- just plug in and go."

Google was an early supporter of Docker and offers its own container service on its cloud platform. It also open-sourced Kubernetes, a popular container orchestration tool based on its own internal software. Google said it plans to integrate Kubernetes with Apigee.

HKM Consulting is an AWS partner, and Riley works with a client to implement Apigee on premises. One of the reasons potential customers shy away from the service is the high cost, so Google could really expand Apigee's reach if it's able to make it a subscription-based, software-as-a-service offering, Riley said.

Trevor Jones is a news writer with TechTarget's data center and virtualization media group. Contact him at [email protected]

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