Software development is no longer heavily bespoke or customised; instead, developers are increasingly offered reusable elements like APIs and microservices that can be stitched together over and over at scale to enable future digital experiences.
Enterprises in recent years have entered a new "industrial revolution" - the industrialisation of software creation. That is particularly true of code that is destined to live in the cloud.
There are several key trends that underlie this.
First, there is the move to operationalising everything-as-code.
Running digitally at scale requires automation - there is simply too much going on in the background to be 'hands-on', and if you're 'hands-on' with the infrastructure, you're likely too 'hands-off' when it comes to having time to innovate, build new features and delight customers. In this context, it makes sense to hand off as much non-differentiating operational effort as possible to software.
The second trend driving industrialisation of software is the growing influence of software engineering practices and directors in large Australian organisations. This is getting harder to ignore as organisations compete for the software engineering talent pool. A LinkedIn search shows there are now about 53,000 professionals in Australia with "software engineering" in their job title. That grows to about 86,000 for the term "software engineer".
Software engineering teams are pioneering standard processes and introducing guardrails and discipline to the way software is created.
Common and shared patterns and practices, reusable microservices and APIs are all things that can help development teams bring a new feature or tool to market sooner. If you think of the software development process as a manufacturing or assembly line, you can think of APIs as the raw ingredients that are assembled into software. Growing reusability of APIs and other software components makes assembly of new products and services easier and, again, is proof of the industrialisation and industrial scale of software creation.
And, of course, underpinning all of this is the pursuit of faster time-to-value. Organisations across all industries aim to achieve faster time to market, reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and create an overall better experience for their customers.
Organisations also aim to still be here in the future. In Kong's 2022 API - Microservices Connectivity Report, 75% of technology leader respondents feared competitive displacement if they failed to keep pace with innovation, with 4 in 5 respondents predicting they will go under or be absorbed by a competitor within six years of digital innovation lags.
Existing in this world requires industrialised operating models, well-engineered processes and a commitment to becoming much more software-driven. Code - and increasingly, certain packages of code like APIs - run the world that we live in.
It's still 'early days'
Developing software applications rapidly, efficiently and effectively is now table stakes for growing businesses.
Application design methodologies are evolving to meet that challenge. Monolithic applications are already being decomposed into smaller, decoupled components like APIs and microservices that are stitched together to create new applications and experiences.
This future feels like it is happening now, but in reality, we are only in the early days. Every new API we add or monolith application we decouple into microservices adds more potential (inter)connection points and potential complexity.
We're still not yet at a stage where all organisations have set up appropriate guardrails, patterns and practices and backend infrastructure that will enable API- and microservices-based applications to be performant, reliable and highly secure. That time will come and is indeed fast-approaching.
As with all technology-oriented changes, it's clear that some organisations will be better prepared than others.
For well-prepared organisations, a foundational element is having a modern, cloud-native, full lifecycle API management platform.
Such a platform promises to accelerate and simplify the adoption of the API-first operating model by orchestrating the build, run and governance stages of APIs. It also enables small teams to work with agility while staying in the guardrails of development for the sake of the organisation's security and governance.
It also promises to solve the two core challenges of application development today: as applications are deconstructed, the number of APIs is exploding as well as the number of agile teams developing these APIs. This causes management and visibility challenges, and these will not be resolved without specifically targeted efforts and tooling.
The layers between developers and customers/users have vanished. Developers are now in the front row to deliver digital experiences that will make or break their organisation's position in the market.
The key to building a great application is to be able to connect up all its component services. In this new complex world, APIs and their connections not only are enabling decentralisation but are also becoming the backbone of enterprise infrastructures.
This is why today, API management is a big deal. API management provides a solution that can ensure reliable connections for both the cloud-native and legacy workloads. It provides a solution that can help accelerate the transition for companies embracing modern API-first architectures.