What to do When Comparing Cloud APIs

What to do When Comparing Cloud APIs

APIs, application programming interfaces, aren’t new, but they are very important to cloud computing because of how they are used.  They give developers access to services – including updating  databases, storing and moving data, pushing data into a queue, etc.


There is concern amongst developers about the larger cloud providers and their reliance on specific  types of APIs.  Central to this issue is Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is currently dominating the market, making its API the “emerging standard.” But, there is also concern amongst cloud providers who want a stake in the fast-growing IaaS market, including HP, Rackspace, NASA, Cisco and many others that have joined OpenStack. They provide an alternative to AWS by using a different set of APIs to leverage similar services, such as accessing storage and compute resources.

The stakes are high.  If you go one way or the other, you’re committing to an API, and that means you bind your application to that API. If you want to move to other cloud providers in the future, or perhaps to a private cloud environment, you could discover that a lack of portability drives a significant rewrite, meaning more risks and additional costs.

The negative side of the cloud API tug-of-war is that many enterprises won’t take a stand. They want to wait and see who wins the battle before they decide where to invest. The problem with waiting is these enterprises miss the value that cloud computing has to offer now.

So what should you do when selecting a cloud provider API for your enterprise? Here are some pointers:

  1. Determine a long-term cloud strategy that defines your core requirements, including cloud services you plan to use now and in the future. Be sure to focus on performance, security and governance as well.
  2. Review large IaaS providers that support OpenStack; AWS, which supports its own API as well as all of the other cloud providers who are out there. Consider the tradeoffs and keep an eye on the future.
  3. Test out the public or private cloud and use their particular API.
Cindy Holmes About the author