More on the Open API Revolution

28.10.2011 by Craig Burton

As I said in an earlier post, the folks as announced the that the number of open APIs they track reached an unbelievable number—4000—in record time.

The published this graph showing the hockey stick growth rate:


Figure 1—Total Number of APIs

source: Programmableweb

So lets take quick look at the dynamics of this growth rate.

Phil Windley helped me out and here is what we came up with.

The data could be interpreted as a power law.

Phil  used this:

Here’s the data:

0, 0
8.5, 1000
10.5, 2000
11.25, 3000
11.75, 4000 

Power law says:     Y = aX^b

The fit says

a = 13.665
b = 1.618

So, by the year 2013, (X = 13), we’d expect: 7117.

2016 shows 30,000 APIs.

This is a nice steep curve.



Figure 2—Extrapolating the Numbers

source: Craig Burton and Phil Windley

But I am going to go out on a limb and predict that something even more dynamic is in play. If you look at Figure 3, you can see that somewhere between Oct. and Nov. 2010, the growth Netflix was enjoying took a serious turn for the better. Hits on the API went from 4 billion a month to 12 billion in 30 days.


Figure 3—Growth of Netflix API

source: Programmableweb

If I am right, I expect that we hit the 5000 API mark sometime in mid 2012. Then instead of just going on the power curve to 7117 APIs by 2013, the industry will experience an exponential skip—like the one in figure 3 for Netflix—the jump will go from 5,000 to over 10,000 almost over night. So that we will be way ahead of this ambitious curve shown in Figure 2.

I have no real data to support that. I just think the movement is about to jump the chasm from early adopters to early majority sometime in 2012.



Steve Jobs: cause to reflect

09.10.2011 by Craig Burton

I am the same age as Steve Jobs.

So when Phil Windley sent me the link to the 1985 Playboy Magazine interview of Steve Jobs (just before he was forced to leave Apple) I had to laugh at some of the questions made by the interviewer and remember all of the things that where going on in the industry then.

During the 80’s I worked for Ray Noorda at Novell. My job was to create and drive Novell’s strategy. The plan was simple, give real freedom of choice to the customer and be interoperable with as many networks and computers as possible.

By 1985 Noorda was finally coming around to the freedom of choice thing. But I had a hard time convincing Ray that the Macintosh was an imperative to support with NetWare. And he had good reasons to balk at my insistence.

Apple was notoriously difficult then—as now—to work with.  Especially when Jobs was at the helm. At times it seemed that Apple’s strategy was just the opposite of Novell’s. Don’t give any choice to the customer except to buy Apple. Interoperability? Never heard of it. Freedom of choice was something Jobs then—and still lives on at Apple now—resisted at every opportunity.

The operating system, the mother board, the bus, the network, the transport, you name it. Apple built their own and was slow to adopt anything that any other vendor supported or invented.

It seems that the only time Apple breaks down and supports any standard is when it is forced to do so. That’s how it was then at Apple, and that’s how it continues to be at Apple. All designed and driven by Jobs.

I doubt Novell would have had Apple attend the rollout of Macintosh support in NetWare if Jobs had been CEO when it happened. Of course having John Scully at the event made it less than stellar, but at least it happened. And the world business community loved it.

When I read the sections of the interview that talk about Apple’s struggle to get a foothold in corporate computing environments it reminds me just how big of a role Novell played in making that happen. Both Apple and Microsoft seemed to revel in the fact that their systems were not interoperable. Novell solved the namespace and interoperability issues between the Macintosh and DOS (and later Windows) in spades in spite of proactive resistance from both vendors.

It would have taken Apple another 10 years before gaining a foothold in the business community without Novell. With the bottom up approach and huge Novell channel and support network, Apple was able to slip in the back door of enterprise departments along with NetWare and the PC before corporate IT knew it or could try to stop it.

With the way things worked out—Apple being the most profitable company in the world and Novell being dead—you might conclude that the Steve Jobs approach to standards and interoperability are the way to go.

It isn’t that simple, things are much more complicated than that.

While no one can deny that Jobs was a great visionary and did incredible things for the world and computing, I can’t stop and wonder what really could have happened if Apple/Jobs had taken the approach of building sexy interoperability along with sexy computers and phones.


Stop Using the “C” and the “E” Word

09.08.2011 by Craig Burton

While attending the Cloud Identity Summit last week in Keystone Co. I noticed a usage trend that needs addressing.

Almost without exception, the discussions around identity and identity technology used two categories for defining market segments. The two categories are:

  • The Consumer
  • The Enterprise

These ambiguous categories are hindering moving forward with identity discussions and productivity. Every session I attended, I challenged the presenter to define these terms. Without exception, the confusion and ambiguity were rampant. For example, where are the people that don’t work for a large company defined here? They aren’t consumers, they aren’t an enterprise. Are you saying that a person at work is only recognized if they work for a large company? How large?

I don’t even want to go down the path of the Consumer word.


The Consumer


The Enterprise

As a result, I am proposing 6 alternate top level category definitions. These definitions are as follows:

  • Person
  • Group
  • Organization
  • Non-Profit Organization
  • Government
  • Program/Code

Of course there are sub categories to each of these definitions, but at least we have a set of of top level definitions that make sense.

Here are some icons I will use. Note that I use the accessory of a “hat” to distinguish the entity. This works for me, I often think of myself in a different hat depending on what role I am in.

little person guylittle grouplittle com guylittle org guy

little gov guylittle code guy


© 2015 Craig Burton, KuppingerCole