A content delivery network (CDN) is fine for distributing the data from a Web page but the advent of a new programming interface will help create a new method for pushing data to the edge of the network.

The first signs of this new network is coming from companies that are creating a new wave of API services for better distributing the billions of calls that are made daily to an increasing mass network of providers. The latest is a new API Delivery Network from Apigee, a provider of API products and services.

Apigee is providing a new way to distribute APIs from a central point to the edge of the network. It's like a CDN except not for content but for API calls.

There are a number of reasons why Apigee's Sam Ramji says an enterprise grade API delivery networks is needed:

  • Speed is a huge benefit. It can be up to ten times faster when the API network is distributed across a network of points.
  • Availability can have marked performance improvements. Core availability goes up.
  • Having the API network at the edge is better suited to a mass scaling of mobile, connected devices.
  • And what happens when the site gets popular and there is a spike in API calls? The API fails to do its job. An API network at the edge can help alleviate the issue.

The Apigee service also improves speed and availability for OAuth, which authenticates the API call from the user.

In most OAuth implementations - there is an OAuth server. That server is handling immediate requests. A token is checked on every request. The Apigee network service pushes that authentication dance to the edge, where it is faster and can be handled more efficiently.

Apigee, Mashery and Layer 7 are pushing the boundaries for API networks. They are companies at the edge, so to speak, but also at the center of a new global, commerce infrastructure.

A big question for the enterprise is the performance of APIs. They can be slow and unresponsive. Often, the latency is unbearable, especially on mobile devices. Will the Apigee service help alleviate the issue? We'll have to see. There are several competitors in this space and the issues with APIs will only continue as more devices are connected and greater emphasis is placed on third party application integrations. In particular, we'll be watching companies that offer the network capabilities inside the enterprise to optimize speed and efficiency for the end user.