Google has announced a new Google Enterprise APIs designation, which is intended to set apart APIs that serve business-critical systems and ensure the company’s partners that these APIs will experience prolonged stability and support. This designation is the third initiative in the last year that Google claims is aimed at building trust in the company’s cloud Platform.
First, it was simplified launch stages, which Google announced in late 2020 in order to provide increased context for changes on the platform. Then it was Mission Critical Services, which was added in March of 2021 and provided high-paying customers will consultation services for “demanding enterprise environments.” Now Google has announced Google Enterprise APIs, its latest offering intended to seek forgiveness from the developer community for years of abrupt service deprecations and API stagnation.
After all, it is important to remember that Google has a long history of abrupt and unappreciated actions that often left developers in the lurch. These actions are infamous enough that they inspired developer Cody Ogden to build Killed by Google, an open-source project that outlines all of the 200+ times that Google killed off apps, services, and hardware. But maybe Google has finally learned its lesson as is attempting to turn the page on that era of its developer relations history.
If we assume that this is true and that Google will follow through on these recent promises for improved stability, then Google is wise to take these steps, especially in the enterprise game. As Databricks’ Ryan Boyd told ProgrammableWeb earlier this year, “As I’ve moved into the enterprise world I’ve seen how the space definitely demands more in terms of predictability and stability on APIs.” And Google seems to mirror this thinking, with the announcement noting that:
“We recognize that a number of our customers’ business-critical systems depend on our enterprise APIs, and organizations need those APIs to be stable so that their systems will continue to work as expected and not trigger unanticipated development work.”
For what it is worth, the three core tenants that will now encompass the Google Enterprise API designation are: ‘the burden is on us’, ‘support the customer’, and ‘ensure strong governance.’ The first point is simple, Google is claiming that when changes need to take place, they are committed to finding a way to either ensure backward compatibility or offer the simplest path to migration possible. The second point, support the customer, comes with the commitment that “Customers will receive a minimum of one year’s notice of an impending change, during which time the feature will continue to operate without issue.” And lastly, ensure strong governance, means that a board of engineers will evaluate all potential changes on the platform.
It is hard to fault any of these goals, other than to note that they are hardly aggressive. One year’s notice before major changes is pretty standard, migration guides are par for the course, and review panels tend to serve more as a Resource for placing blame. It’s possible that each of these assurances will be realized in a more meaningful way, but until it happens, I’d still be wary of promises such as these.
Here’s to hoping that these changes stick, even if this feels a little like a ‘fool me once’ type of situation.