Connecting Microservices and APIs to Business Value
My company, HP Inc., is a “new” company—the world’s largest startup, if you will—having formed last November upon the separation of Hewlett Packard Corp. So we’re still building out our company’s publicly-visible API-product stories and developer assets on our developer portal at https://developers.hp.com (HP PrintOS, for example, has its APIs documented here, among other assets).
Our culture is rooted in engineering (“Keep Reinventing” is our motto), but it isn’t always easy to connect the nuance of containerized microservices, for example, to efficiencies in product lifecycle or customer delight. Platform thinking, where well-documented patterns, and automation help projects integrate vertically through technology layers, helps us keep on course.
But we still ask the question: how do our software platforms and their APIs best support our new business ambitions, from executing on product strategy all the way to measurable customer success?
The nimble mindset
A frequent challenge is identifying the appropriate opportunities, both in product thinking and in underlying architectures, to ride the wave of API-exposed services and microservices thinking—and to compete. The hill where I plant my flag is the one where our company’s solutions are developed with a nimble software-product mindset, as opposed to a classic scheduled-project approach.
That means a dynamic backlog, all those “agile” behaviors we know and love, and a serious embrace of the customer’s intent while constantly listening for actionable feedback. And, those patterns must always be balanced by a strong product manager’s will to articulate the product’s identity, vision, and roadmap.
Rolled up, business agility is what I prefer to call this network of ideas. Through CI/CD, through test automation, through cloud- and API-driven infrastructure deployment (especially via containers), and through an open-platform mindset, we are accelerating toward viewing each other’s web-services as approachable and accessible—and more open for business than ever.
APIs: beyond tactics
With APIs at the center of our work, I believe this mindset holds doubly true. APIs aren’t just a tactic or a box to check on the design-spec of a new service. Rather, APIs are, I believe, the product—the face of a company’s services to the developer community. Done well, led with a product manager’s mindset, and promoted with savvy enthusiasm, APIs are where ecosystems arise.
Evan is a platform architect and engineering lead for cloud-computing practices and business delivery at HP Inc. His team is helping build out HP’s API and SDK portfolio at https://developers.hp.com.