Without API Management, The Internet of Things Is Just A Big Thing

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"Digital disruption is all around us and it's having massive implications for business. Digitization and the expansion of the Internet of Things is a catalyst for growth, which is driving new economic models and enabling organizations to remain competitive and embrace the pace of change happening globally. This report clearly demonstrates that digitization and the IoT will deliver long term efficiencies and growth opportunities across a wide range of industries," commented Chris Dedicoat, president, EMEAR for Cisco.

There’s no wonder on hearing more and more about the Internet of Things (IoT).

Cisco is predicting that by the year 2020, the IoT will comprise more than 30 billion connected devices and it would take a lifetime to manually analyze the data produced by a single sensor on a manufacturing assembly line.

That means, it is supposed that each “Thing” we encounter in our daily and professional lives could potentially be connected within the next couple years.

According to Cisco's economic analysis, IoT will generate $8 trillion worldwide in Value at Stake over the next decade.

“IoT solutions are at the heart of IDC's view of the 3rd Platform and the four pillars - mobility, social business, big data/analytics, and cloud - resulting in millions of applications available to billions of end points," added Carrie MacGillivray, Program Vice President, Mobile Services, IoT, and Network Infrastructure at IDC


APIs are the standard way of communication between devices and sensors. It is very critical to enable APIs in an IoT solution, if you want your IoT solution to be open and interoperable. APIs are, after all, the glue that connects the “things” to the internet. And API is the critical part that turns the risk into the weakest link whereas new technologies like big data, RFID, RESTful APIs, IPv6, found their place in the IoT universe.

API management is an umbrella under which are grouped a collection of solutions such as gateways, security, and access management. Many intelligent things are not nearly as complex as Windows desktops or SCADA, but each are grouped with its own potential disaster scenarios.

In short, APIs act as a standard gateway for device communication. And it is used for device registration and activation, providing a management interface for the sensors, and exposing a device capability.


IoT API or the application program (or programming) interface, is what really ties together the connected “things” of the “internet of things.” IoT APIs are the points of interaction between an IoT device and the internet and/or other elements within the network.

As API management company Axway puts it, “APIs are tightly linked with IoT because they allow you to securely expose connected devices to customers, go-to-market channels and other applications in your IT infrastructure.”

APIs In IoT Services

APIs based around the IoT are mostly web service APIs in different forms such as SOAP, REST or XML/JSON. A web service APIs is a piece of software, or a system, that provides access to its services via URL. This web service offers its information in a format that other applications can understand or parse through.

Chances are high to use Restful API to communicate your electronic hardware with the rest of the world using an IoT software platform when working with IoT hardware development boards such as Particle Photon, Arduino Yun, Raspberry Pi, Intel Edison/Galileo, BeagleBone Black/Green plus many more.

Why IoT APIs Are Important?

IBM called IoT APIs one of its top IoT trends for this year.

In a blog entry Chris O’Connor, IBM’s GM for IoT, noted “APIs are the market enabler, and ‘internet of things’ devices would be useless without them. By exposing data that enables multiple devices to be connected, APIs provide an interface between the internet and the things to reveal previously unseen possibilities,”. “In the year to come, the power and importance of APIs will be at the forefront of the conversation around enabling—and more important—monetizing the ‘internet of things.'”

Challenges Involved With IoT APIs

Mahbubul Alam, CTO and CMO of Movimento Group, said APIs are part of one common pain point he sees in the IoT ecosystem: that vendors offer an IoT solution that is “all or nothing,” regardless of what pieces a company may already have – their own security and databases, for example.

“There are very few who are really mixing and matching,” Alam said. Companies often tout “open APIs,” he added, but this is essentially each IoT application speaking its own language, to which companies must adapt – as opposed to open source APIs where there is more information exposed.

“APIs are causing a real pain point, which is not being really, truly open, and truly thinking about how we can mix and match and let the customer have the best choice,” Alam said.

Opportunities In IoT APIs

For one, the market is expected to grow considerably as more and more companies leverage IoT. There are numerous platforms already in existence, for consumer and industrial IoT, and the fragmentation has implications for interoperability and scale of IoT deployments.

Michael Starsinic, technical track senior manager at InterDigital “fragmentation also offers an opportunity for horizontal platforms that communicate with all sorts of devices and vertical applications”. Standardization is important, he noted, adding that is current, ongoing work for standardizing IoT APIs even as other parts of the ecosystem continue with their own API versions in the absence of an overarching common approach.

Vikram Saksena, with the office of the CTO at NetScout, which monitors IoT deployments once they are rolled out, said for service providers there can be potential for service providers in these emerging days of IoT. “This fragmentation and silos create challenges and an opportunity,” he said. “I think one of the values that service providers can provide is by unifying the silos.”


In an IoT world, seldom a device would be able to perform a functionality on its own, as it needs to interact to other devices and sensors. Having a middleware and API management layer to facilitate this communication is key.

APIs is the fundamental enablers of the IoT development; but without this, the unique characteristics of IoT can easily lead to catastrophe, especially when it comes to:

  • Devices supporting multiple communication interfaces and standard
  • Monitoring and managing multiple IoT devices
  • Performance and scalability
  • Developer and device registration and security
  • Visibility and analytics