Helping Developers Work Smarter With Our API Marketplace

Find out how our API Marketplace supports the needs of developers both inside and outside Dell.

As we at Dell Digital, Dell’s IT organization, share insights into how we are Cracking the Code for a World-class Developer Experience in this ongoing blog series, our API strategy is key.

A strong API strategy is essential for any organization that’s going through either a business transformation or technology transformation.

A central part of our ongoing digital transformation is an API Marketplace that lets developers share these essential building blocks for connecting people, business and things. Developers don’t have to start from scratch each time they used a common construct in a solution in order to access a particular business process or data set. They can just plug in the needed API.

Our API-first approach helps our developers work faster, smarter and with greater collaboration and consistency as they meet our business users’ innovative needs.

And last month, we launched an external developer portal to allow our customers’ application developers to access a growing list of APIs for Dell products. The Dell Technologies Developer Portal is a one-stop shop for application developers and DevOps teams to come and explore our capabilities and access to the latest Dell APIs.

Transforming customer connections with APIs

APIs are not new. They are actually many decades old. Over the years, however, they shifted from being standard pieces of software that provided a system-to-system integration to being gateways to connect apps to data and service. The rise of APIs as essential connections to customers began back in early 2000s when Amazon and other large internet companies began to promote APIs as a way to provide customers with self-service access to their capabilities.

More traditional companies have come to realize that they can transform their legacy business operations by leveraging APIs to reach customers with new products and services. Fueling the expansion of API use is the fact that more and more of today’s customers are demanding self-service access to companies’ assets in order to get the personalized experience they want.

Our developer portal is the first time we at Dell Digital have taken APIs from different business units across a business organization—our Infrastructure Service Group (ISG)—and provided a common place for our external developers to come and explore our capabilities. They don’t have to engage with a support team within Dell to really understand the capabilities they can integrate as part of a product or a solution. Rather, they can come into the self-service portal to get such access.

Other business organizations are adding APIs to the new portal, which is growing rapidly. The portal is based on our internal marketplace platform, but with a new look and feel and expanded capabilities. We are transitioning our internal developer API ecosystem from our API Marketplace to the new portal as well, to provide them with improved search features and other experience improvements.

Our evolving API marketplace

The value of an API-first strategy is recognized throughout Dell and throughout the industry as essential to being competitive in a digitally transformed world. Over the past several years, our internal API Marketplace has grown rapidly with more than 1,200 production APIs in many categories, ranging from cloud and commerce to supply chain and support.

We began our API effort by creating an internal API ecosystem and then promoting an API-first strategy in IT. The idea was to encourage developers to write an API every time they wrote code for a microservice. The API would contain information on a process or data set that could be reused by other developers writing similar solutions—a sort of building block. The API is the connection that sends information back and forth between a website or application and a user.

We built a customized platform, incorporating some vendor tools, that gave developers a central place to catalogue and share those building blocks—the API Marketplace. Not only are developers able to create solutions more quickly and consistently using APIs, but the platform also provides developers with information on who is using their APIs.

Some 90% of our developers now use our API Marketplace. The number of APIs in our catalogue has grown an average of 24% percent per year.

The result is that our developers are able to create solutions faster, easier and with more consistency. And they regularly share new APIs from microservices, continually expanding the self-service marketplace.

While not every business group across Dell Technologies is API-first, we are making progress and our API strategy overall has matured based on a scoring process that considers multiple factors. We provide tools to help developers improve their API maturity as well as achieve more reusability of the APIs they create.

It was the recognized success of our internal API platform in making our development process more efficient that inspired the creation of the external-facing API developer portal for our Dell customers’ developers to discover Dell’s Digital asset in the form of API’s.

Where do you start

If your organization is seeking to pursue an API strategy, there are a few insights that may help.

First, you should start the process by creating a vision for how APIs can help your company. What are the benefits of providing a platform where you can share your digital assets in the form of APIs internally, externally or both? Clearly define the value, using feedback from developers and other stakeholders.

Once the vision has been agreed upon, build an API platform and create a prototype showing how you can build and share APIs. There are many API management tools available, or you can customize your ecosystem. From there, reach out to developers and business stakeholders to reinforce the merits of an API strategy.

The benefits of an API marketplace are clear. It enables developers to build solutions faster without reinventing the wheel. And organizations in general can readily see the benefits of providing customers’ developers with these easy tool sets that they can access themselves rather than sitting with them and explaining.

APIs just make sense to enable developers internally or externally. It is a strategy you can’t afford to ignore if your organization is going to compete in a modern digital marketplace.


Keep learning: Our session “Optimizing the Developer Experience with an Automated Multi-Cloud and DevOps Approach” at Dell Technologies World 2022 will go into depth on how we’re transforming our developer experience inside Dell IT. Join us to meet Dell’s IT practitioners, learn our best practices and ask us all your questions. Register now.

Ashok Muthukrishnan

About the Author: Ashok Muthukrishnan

A six-year veteran of Dell Technologies, Ashok leads a digital transformation team that focuses on building a private cloud practice and cloud capabilities-as-a-service at Dell Digital. His team, Dell Digital Application Modernization, builds automated code templates for microservices using containers, enables API-first approaches, defines best practices, and provides consultation on how to use cloud capabilities wisely and with confidence. A key focus is on building an end-to-end lifecycle of container applications using Kubernetes, starting from ideation to production and post-production integrated with automated DevSecOps. Prior to his current role, Ashok led enterprise architecture, API management, and Cloud platform architecture at Dell Digital, providing individual and team leadership expertise across PaaS using Cloud Foundry, CaaS using Kubernetes in private cloud, cloud native applications, APIs and AI/ML.