An application-programming interface (API) is a key part of any web-based technology. Without APIs, the technology in question would serve a limited purpose and be severely confined in its capabilities. Cloud computing’s use of APIs is what makes it such an appealing way of storing and transferring data, and would not have grown to what it is today without the use of APIs. As cloud computing continues to grow and expand, APIs will also evolve to give developers an even more precise way of interaction. Although an essential piece, APIs in the cloud don’t come without controversy.
One of the main issues is one of standards. Although there has been an attempt to create API standards within cloud computing, it takes years for something like this to develop. Some believe creating a set of cloud API standards is important for the future growth of cloud computing, while others don’t think it’s necessary. However, not having standards could cause a lot of problems. For example, if all cloud systems were based on different standards, transferring the code you use to manage your cloud may not be possible. If, for whatever reason, you must transfer to a different cloud provider, you’re taking the risk of having to re-write your application to work. This could be a very timely and costly process. In mid-2010, the website ReadWriteWeb polled their readers and found that nearly 50% of the responders thought Amazon S3′s API should be the standard, while around 11% didn’t think cloud API standards were necessary at all. There’s no doubt that Amazon has made huge contributions to advance cloud computing, but they have done this to benefit themselves, not the entire cloud computing industry.
While some believe standards prevent innovation, there are others who simply don’t think the cloud computing industry is ready for API standards. Cloud computing is still in its infancy, and there’s still a long way to go. The innovations will never stop, but there will be a point where the cloud is mature enough that standards can be made. Organizations like VMware are working to create a clearer future for cloud computing by building platforms for cloud development. The OpenStack project (with more than 100 companies in support) is also looking to build a cloud ecosystem.
Let us know what you think in the comments below. Is the cloud computing industry ready for API standards? If it is, should Amazon S3 API be the standard? Only time will tell what really happens, but it will definitely be interesting to watch this exciting industry develop over the next several years.