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Innovator Spotlight: Dell - On Using APIs to Provide Multi-Channel Access & New Capabilities

Jun 27, 2012

For more than 28 years, Dell has empowered countries, communities, customers and people everywhere to use technology to realize their dreams. Customers trust Dell to deliver technology solutions that help them do and achieve more, whether they're at home, work, school or anywhere in their world.

Mohamed Ayadi, Director - Online Product Engineering at Dell, spoke with Apigee about Dell's API ecosystem that supports its internal development teams, partners and retailers.

How is Dell using APIs today?

Dell is developing an API ecosystem as a preferred method of delivering real-time, critical business information with a minimum amount of development effort to support multi-channel enablement. As Dell’s API environment grows, we will continue to strengthen the capabilities that currently support our partner ecosystems and leverage these APIs internally to deliver technical innovation around our mobile, social media initiatives, and M&A strategies.

Why did you initiate this program? What opportunity were you addressing?

APIs have clearly become a successful model for companies who seek to expand services and data beyond their own online platform. Dell is using this technology to change the face of our online assets, including Dell.com, and to provide multi-channel access and new capabilities that extend beyond the scope of Dell owned properties.

What APIs does Dell offer today?

Dell developed a number of support services APIs to provide customers with order and warranty status, device drivers and software download information associated with their products, as well as Manuals and Knowledge Base articles relevant to a product or service. Dell’s Asset Warranty Renewal API allows partners to provide warranty expiration information within their existing systems management console, grouped by the customer’s organization, and allow for easy warranty renewal. Dell also provides Dell Mobile applications for both Android and iOS devices that make use of Product Catalog, Product Advisor, and CRM APIs.

Who are the primary users of Dell's APIs?

Dell APIs are consumed primarily by internal teams, such as the Dell Mobile application development team, Social Media and Global Support organizations. Dell also provides limited access of APIs to external partners who seek to develop value-added applications and services for Dell customers. As an example, Dell uses its API platform to offer automated end-to-end support and service capabilities. Dell Support Services also plans to utilize these APIs to provide special SDK offers to commercial customers.

How much API traffic do Dell's APIs generate to-date? 

Dell’s API traffic is relatively small compared to some companies that rely on APIs as a primary business strategy. Dell currently processes approximately one million API requests per day, while expecting API traffic to increase significantly as we continue toward our end-state vision.

What other benefits have you gained from you API platform?

Extensibility, reusability and features that our customers/partners want in a manner Dell can develop, nurture and control, and provide a mutually beneficial relationship for Dell and its partners.

How do you work with Apigee technology?

Dell chose a hybrid development model where our Production and Sandbox gateway instances are hosted in Dell’s datacenter, and the Analytics and KMS components are hosted in the cloud. Dell developed a good set of APIs in this hybrid model, using both out-of-the-box technology and custom policies utilizing Apigee tools. Custom policies allow Dell to extend throttling service definition profiles to consumers of our APIs. The analytics tool can provide usage reporting based on key categories, such as API Group, API Key or Individual API operation.

What's your vision for your API program moving forward?

While the primary focus of Dell’s API program is to support Dell internal development teams, Partners and Retailers, the API program can also be leveraged to enable business-growth opportunities as part of Dell’s overall strategic initiatives to enable our customers to do more.

Without APIs, we simply could not keep up with the demand from our customers who needed information across these different channels and platforms.

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