Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, October 24, 2021

‘API Economy’ Gathering Steam 


Mashape, the API marketplace delivering management tools for micro-services and an emerging category dubbed "micro-functions" said this week it has closed an $18 million funding round amid heavy enterprise demand for its "API Gateway" used to integrate and orchestrate API arrays that support micro-services.

San Francisco-based Mashape said Thursday (March 23) Andreessen Horowitz led its latest funding round, joined by existing investors CRV (Charles River Ventures) and Index Ventures. The API specialist has so far raised about $28 million.

The API specialist cited brisk uptake of its Kong application development tool introduced as an open source platform in 2015. Kong is intended to streamline basic processes used by developers in hopes of accelerating the development of applications and micro-services such as application containers for the web and the Internet of Things.

The company recently released an updated version of Kong that integrates load balancing, compatibility with the Cassandra 3.0 NoSQL key-value store and improved matching capabilities for API routing. The new version also supports Amazon Web Service's (NASDAQ: AMZN) Lambda server-less computing platform.

"Until a few years ago, most companies were developing heavy, monolithic applications weighed down by proprietary code," noted Augusto Marietti, Mashape's CEO and co-founder in a blog post.

"Since the rise of container and orchestration technologies like Docker, Mesos, and Kubernetes, applications can be decoupled into smaller components, creating thousands of micro-services that communicate and work together via APIs," Marietta added.

Micro-services break down software into reusable, functional components that communicate with each other via application programming interfaces.

Kong was rolled out as an API marketplace, but has since morphed into what Marietta touted as "the air traffic control for the cloud computing era." The gateway is used to mediate access to APIs. The Kong API repository on Github, for example, currently manages thousands of APIs, the company noted. Kong was originally built to manage more than 15,000 micro-services made available on the Mashape marketplace.

Investors are betting that the momentum built up by API specialists such as Mashape and API leader Mulesoft (NYSE: MULE), which launched an initial public offering earlier this month, will continue as enterprises embrace micro-services and use APIs building blocks to integrate disparate legacy systems into the cloud.

Proponents of the "API economy" argue that the next phase will include "auto-scalable micro-functions" deployed via "server-less" architectures. "The rise of server-less (functions as a service) is massively accelerating this movement by forcing developers to architect around a very fine-grained micro-services approach," noted Martin Casado, a general partner with lead investor Andreessen Horowitz.

Mashape said it would use the new funding to expand its engineering team to accelerate development of new enterprise features designed to manage and orchestrate APIs. The goal is an enterprise platform running on-premises or in the cloud, the company said.


About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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