Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, wrote the following memo to his employees around 2002. It got known as the “Bezos API Mandate” or “Amazon’s API Mandate”.

According to an Amazon employee at that time, it went something along these lines:

1) All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.

2) Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.

3) There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team’s data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.

4) It doesn’t matter what technology they use. HTTP, Corba, Pubsub, custom protocols — doesn’t matter.

5) All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.

6) Anyone who doesn’t do this will be fired.

My comment: Obviously, that worked for Amazon. If you want to explore these ideas in your environment – whether enterprise or startup – learn as much as you can about creating externalizable APIs and building digital ecosystems.

The API Mandate
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