API Management Firm StrikeIron Launches Public IronCloud Service
StrikeIron, one of the only stand alone API management companies after a recent string of acquisitions in the industry, has launched a public version of its IronCloud API creation and hosting service.

A tidal wave of mobile device use is proof of our digital connections. Mobile apps, the web and social media are all cross connecting people and companies in new and novel ways.

Conduits of a Connected World

But how seamless are those connections? It often falls to an API to link up these channels, and there is a limit to what and how much information they can relay back and forth. The more connections are needed, especially in large companies, the more important it becomes to maintain those APIs and keep them running smoothly.

That's where companies like StrikeIron, Mashery, Apigee, Layer 7 and Apiphany all come in. These vendors help companies manage their APIs and documentation so developers can build new and useful apps that take advantage of a variety of data sources. Mashery, Layer 7 and Apiphany have all been acquired in 2013, a fact that actually strengthens StrikeIron's position, Justin Helmig, executive vice president of products and technology at StrikeIron, said in an interview.

"Mobile app usage is rapidly expanding, and companies in retail, for example, want to differentiate on their technology," Helmig said.

That means their APIs have to be up and running when people are using them, and the documentation has to be in order so developers can build with them. IronCloud is StrikeIron's cloud based API management system, and until now it had only been available to StrikeIron partners and early adopters. It is now publicly available to new and existing StrikeIron customers, where StrikeIron manages and operates a repository for digital assets that can be accessed directly by customers.

Customers log into IronCloud from a web browser, and companies typically white label it so those customers can get the data and software they need from one central place, Helmig said.

API Management Firm StrikeIron Launches Public IronCloud Service
The IronCloud management console allows developers to login and access data for use in a variety of applications including on premise systems.

State of the Managed API Industry

StrikeIron offers access control, flexible billing options, usage analysis, security settings, account management, automated usage charge tracking and throttling within IronCloud, but let's see what its competition is up to. StrikeIron competes with Apigee, Apiphany, Mashery and Layer 7, Helmig said, but he feels that StrikeIron's independence offers it an edge when it comes to innovation.

Most recently, Apiphany was bought up by Microsoft and integrated into Windows Azure. In reality, Apiphany was an inexpensive developer tool costing only $50 per month where StrikeIron is more of an enterprise focused company. Layer 7 was more closely in competition with StrikeIron, and it was bought by CA Technologies in the early part of 2013.

Layer 7 also integrated with on premise systems, a key need for enterprises that continue to rely on older technologies, at least in part. Mashery was also bought up around the same time as Layer 7, only it was bought by microchip manufacturer Intel. This deal said more about Intel than Mashery, but it shows how important APIs are becoming for hardware makers that are looking to expand their businesses.

Apigee and StrikeIron are two of the only independent vendors in the space after Singly was bought by Appcelerator this summer and the more recent Microsoft/Apiphany buy. Apigee is a diverse company like StrikeIron as it has recently branched out into analytics with its Apigee Insights tool. Apigee Edge is more in line with what IronCloud does, although it seems to be a bit more focused on developers.

Apigee gets funding from companies like Accenture, but we don't know if anyone is looking to buy up the company like so many of its competitors. Likewise, Helmig was reluctant to comment on whether or not anyone was possibly looking into buying StrikeIron. Whatever happens with these two companies, the rapid consolidation of the industry does seem to favor them as far as innovation goes. They are free to try new things while their competitors are busy integrating with their new homes.