Microsoft promised a super API dubbed Office 365 Unified API at the Build conference in May. Yesterday it released the API, now renamed Microsoft Graph.

With it, developers can access applications and data across the Microsoft cloud through a single token to build custom solutions.

The Keys to the (Cloud) Castle

According to a blog post written by Rob Lefferts, general manager of the Office Extensibility team, the general release of the API continues the productivity conversation which Microsoft has been pushing as of late.

The goal here is to give developers the tools and data they need to:

  • Rapidly build solutions needed by employees
  • Develop inline social experiences
  • Extend Office by customization using Office 365 data.

“In an age of information abundance, we understand that people are seeking integrated experiences that help them break out of knowledge silos, 'work like a network' and connect information from multiple touchpoints in meaningful ways. Office extensibility has always been about ubiquitous connectivity, enabling new experiences on mobile devices, and empowering developers to create powerful and personalized cloud services that can transform the productivity landscape," Lefferts wrote.

How Big Is Office 365?

Lefferts noted three distinct advantages in this launch:

  • Unified Microsoft API endpoint for accessing the capabilities of the Microsoft cloud
  • Unified access to data living in the Microsoft cloud
  • Unified access to intelligence and insights coming from the Microsoft cloud

To give a sense of the data this opens up to developers, Lefferts cited the following numbers: 

  • Over 18 million consumer and 60 million commercial Office 365 subscribers
  • More than 500 million people managing documents and photos in OneDriveo
  • Over 200 million Office mobile downloads (WXP, Outlook, OneNote on iOS and Android mobile devices).

The hope is that developers use this data to discover how people really work and build new services to enhance productivity.

And once again, this release comes with the promise of more to come.

“We are building toward a near future where multiple graphs and all APIs throughout Microsoft contribute to, and are accessible through, a single unified gateway to the power of the Microsoft cloud,” Lefferts added in the blog post

Jumping on the Announcement

With the announcement only a day old, Skyhigh Networks offered up a way of securing the new API.

Microsoft Graph will open multiple APIs through a single REST API, which makes endpoint security a major concern.

Skyhigh Networks promised with the release of Skyhigh for Office 365 to provide coverage for productivity applications with data from the API, including users, groups, organizational contacts, files, folders, mail, insights and relationships.

Among the capabilities offered:

  • Group-based Cloud DLP Policies:  Applies Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policies to Active Directory Groups and Office 365 Groups
  • Real Time Scanning: Scans data-at-rest to identify policy violations
  • On-Premises DLP Solutions: The integration enables companies to enforce their on-premises DLP policies to all data in Office 365
  • Quarantine Management: Files remain quarantined until cleared

Kamal Shah, VP of product at Skyhigh Networks, told CMSWire that its release dovetails not only with Microsoft’s new found interest in security, but with a growing industry-wide concern about data protection.

“Our announcement ... comes at a time when the mindset toward security in a cloud-first and mobile-first world is of utmost concern. In the shared responsibility mode, the cloud service provider and the enterprise are both responsible for security,” he said.

Developers Welcome

Lefferts hopes to open "a gateway to the Microsoft cloud" with this announcement. Will Microsoft lure new developers to build on the platform? Lefferts cited a handful of partners already creating new solutions through the API. Now to see if others follow the call.