Autonomous APIs: Navigation in complex landscapes

Zdenek "Z" Nemec

O'Reilly Software Architecture Conference

November 6, 2019


Presentation Slides


Services with their APIs are no longer living isolated in silos. Capabilities exposed by these microservices, service meshes, and serverless functions are creating the landscapes. The clients depend on multiple services and are often servers to other clients. These landscapes are forming at every level—team, application, organization, domain, and global—are starting to face out-of-the-bound complexity issues. The current approach to building such systems is imperative programming, human-produced and consumed interface documentation, minimal visibility, and limited automation (“Do you CI? Do you even CD?”). As such, it’s impossible to predict the effects of modifying even one component of the system. The task structure and size complexity is growing beyond our cognitive abilities, and yet we’re still trying to solve the problem by hiring more engineers. With limited visibility, the capability discovery in these landscapes is limited to institutional knowledge, hand-crafted organizational Wiki pages, or Google searches on the domain and global level. Zdenek Nemec explores the problems with the complexity of forming API landscapes and proposes the autonomy of the components as the solution to the difficulty of managing components centrally. He defines levels of autonomy and examines the building blocks of autonomous systems such as automation, virtualization, uniform interface, bounded context, domain-driven design, declarative programming, semantic profiles, service discovery, and self-driving clients. He also gives special attention to the interface lifecycle, advertising future changes and subscription to it. He details the most important and currently missing piece—the service discovery (API producing and consuming standpoint, not the DevOps virtual machine (VM) and machine instance).

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