API gateway tools: build or buy?

by | Sep 15, 2022

This panel was moderated by John Dages, Technology Solution Director at Fusion Alliance (left) and features Ryan Shondell, Executive Director of Data Services at OCLC (center) and Jeremy King Chief Enterprise Architect at NetJets (right).

The decision to build or buy API gateway tools for your organization is rarely black and white. Building an API gateway pulls your team away from other opportunities, but buying could lead to vendor lock-in. Off-the-shelf solutions might not give you differentiating advantage, but inventing your own protocols could accelerate your tech debt. How do enterprise businesses weigh the trade-offs? 

When to consider building an API gateway tool 

  • The custom tool will deliver differentiated value directly to customers or enable the business to deliver that value 
  • The custom tool solves a consumer or business problem that delivers market value 
  • The custom tool gives you a competitive edge in functionality, cost, or speed to market 

When to consider buying an API gateway tool 

  • Your IT time and talent is needed on other revenue-driving projects 
  • Your team could use an out-of-the-box tool as a platform, and build your custom functionality on top of it as an accelerator 
  • The tool conveys significant ongoing maintenance and support savings 

Know which shark is closest to the boat 

It’s not always simple to project future savings or quantify possibility. If you’re faced with a build or buy tech decision, sometimes you have to solve for the biggest issue at hand.  

That could mean you buy an API gateway tool or another off-the-shelf solution. Yes, it’s a vendor dependency, but every other part of your business has them, too. If you make a forward choice, and keep your eyes open, you can avoid many of the pitfalls associated with vendor lock-in.  

For example, finding components that are portable, avoiding proprietary pieces, and limiting the specialized components you buy outright can help. 

And it’s always wise to create a backup plan. As they say, “don’t have such an open architecture that your business falls out.”

About our panelists:

Ryan Shondell is currently the Executive Director of Data Services at OCLC, responsible for developing and executing the company’s data strategy and aligned technology. This includes technical product management, data operations, data quality, and development of AI/ML capabilities, analytics, search, and all customer-facing data applications and APIs across a staff of 300. Prior to joining OCLC, Ryan held multiple senior engineering leadership positions at VMware going back to 2010, most recently as Senior Director of Engineering, where he helped to lead global development on products like Skyline and VMware Cloud. And now, he’s actually headed to Path Robotics to start his next adventure.

Jeremy King has been working in Technology for over 20 years and is currently the Chief Enterprise Architect at NetJets. He started his career designing and developing embedded systems and has worked in many industries, including banking, health care, travel and transportation, and integration tools. His background includes distributed cloud-native architecture, data structures and modeling, enterprise integration patterns, event-driven architectures, and API design. As a Software Architect, Jeremy has faced the challenge of making disparate systems exchange data in consistent, performant ways. His current passions include technical innovation, graph databases, and emerging API standards.

About the author

Fusion Alliance
Your digital transformation partner.

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