by Gina Narcisi

Cisco Systems is committing to helping developer partners craft digital experiences but to do that, APIs can't be afterthoughts. They have to be part of the product, according to Grace Francisco, vice president of developer relations strategy and experience at Cisco.

To that end, the tech giant at Cisco Partner Summit 2022 revealed that it is rolling out backward compatibility on several Cisco offerings so that APIs work on every subsequent version release.

Backward compatibility, Francisco told CRN, is key to the design, documentation and support process of Cisco APIs. This includes implementation of change logs, appropriate notification timelines for any API changes, deprecation notices and API versioning.

Francisco is calling it an "API-first" strategy.

"For us, as a company that started with hardware and now has a big focus on software, we really needed to start to look at how we've been publishing APIs from a development strategy, working across all the different teams and starting to set real standards around our APIs and how we're publishing our APIs to our partners and developers," she told CRN.

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"We have lots of products at Cisco and a lot of heritage in our portfolio; we don't want to boil the ocean. We're starting with that strategic list and from my perspective, once the train starts running and you have the key products going, that will carry forward a lot of [momentum] and set that example," Francisco said.

The effort is supported by API Insights, an open-source project, which helps track and improve API quality. API Insights is now available for developers and DevOps, SecOPs and so-called DevSecOps teams on GitHub.

"We've been telling [Cisco] for years this is the direction they need to go," said Neil Anderson, area vice president of cloud and infrastructure solutions for Maryland Heights, Mo.-based Cisco Gold partner World Wide Technology. "Customers want east-west integration and the only way to do that is with APIs. A lot of our customers are building an automation layer on top of these products and having great APIs is the only way to do that."



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