A digital business is one with technology at the core of its business model. Software is the expression of the business. A truly digital business quickly implements and continuously improves all its policies, processes, and procedures in software. It is widespread knowledge that APIs are key to becoming digital by building a platform business. Each business API expresses a business capability that becomes a building block to assemble in new ways.

Business capabilities are exposed via REST APIs, which turns you enterprise into an enterprise platform. These capabilities can be assembled and re-assembled in new ways to advance strategic objectives like new business models, excellent customer experience, etc.

But mature enterprises quickly learn that when digital business is nothing more than REST, then the technical constraints of REST become the constraints of business possibility. They must look beyond REST to unleash the full business potential of a digital strategy. Based on Forrester inquiry trends, event-driven architecture (EDA) is the fastest-growing integration pattern for filling REST’s gaps. Like REST APIs, event streams can also act as digital business building blocks. This is leading to a convergence of EDA and API management.

Business events are published via event brokers, which, like REST, also turns you enterprise into an enterprise platform. These business events can be assembled and re-assembled in new ways to advance strategic objectives like new business models, excellent customer experience, etc.

Roche Unifies REST And EDA

One organization that has recognized this convergence is Roche. I had the pleasure of interviewing Suresh Jaganathan, head of digital integration at Roche, to learn how the company has approached this convergence. Suresh’s team took a business-first approach to API design by aligning its integration patterns to the business scenarios. But the team recognized a gap: Although REST is an excellent choice for many situations, it was not ideal for all of Roche’s situations.

Suresh and his team understood that EDA is a complement to REST – another tool in the digital business toolbox that fills the gaps of a REST-only approach. Therefore, they planned a unified event + REST approach from the outset. Both APIs and events are managed as enabling digital products. The governance and lifecycle of both are unified as one process. A platform team builds a unified API + event platform for app dev teams rather than building each as separate siloed platforms.

The Results

The results are looking good: faster speed to market and new business opportunities. Roche also embraces FAIR data principles: data that is findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. A digital marketplace consisting of both events and APIs makes the data findable and machine-readable via Open API Spec (OAS) and AsyncAPI metadata. Data can be accessed on demand via APIs and events push data in real-time. Both create reuse by enabling different types of business use cases. Finally, using standards such as REST for APIs and a common broker for events enables interoperability.

Forrester speaks to many clients seeking to move in this direction, but they are largely in the beginning stages of this convergence. Few have reached the maturity of Roche. Roche’s approach sets an example for digital organizations to strive towards. Forrester clients can learn more details about Roche’s approach and its business results in our recent case study of Roche. Also see the trajectory EDA is taking by watching our short video on the future of EDA in digital transformation.