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Tesla’s API outage is a lesson for everybody in today’s hyper-connected world

Tesla API outageForty years ago, the average car barely had a transistor in it. But a car in 2017 is basically a bunch of incredibly sophisticated software riding around on some very high-end processors attached to a chassis. Sometimes you can’t even open the doors if the car app can’t access to the manufacturer’s API.  Outraged Tesla owners discovered this during its 20-hour outage last week.

Tesla relies on constant communication between the company’s data centers and its vehicles. This gives them vital real-time information to manage the cars safely, optimize their performance and, in some circumstances, simply make the cars go. That constant communication is supported by the glue of the internet – the API.

When something goes wrong with your API, you suffer, your clients suffer, your partners suffer, your suppliers and shareholders suffer.

Lots of companies depend on third-party APIs for authentication or notification, but don’t have a Service Level Agreement with the provider. Problems for the API provider might mean much bigger problems for the startups in their API ecosystem. Though safety-critical systems have local backups, the integrity of a company like Tesla depends on APIs.

Tesla is at the cutting edge. But car makers are realizing they are all tech companies now. Each business function within an organization is now also a mini-tech business. And this is the case for a huge variety of domestic and commercial products, from airplanes to refrigerators.

As companies come to rely on APIs for mission-critical and time-sensitive functions, the business risks posed by delinquent APIs grow. In this API-driven economy, you simply cannot afford to have APIs that are not world-class.

You need a mechanism for regularly benchmarking the APIs you provide and use.

And you also need to see how your APIs compare to your competitors.

That’s where our APIContext Insights CASC score comes in. We use proprietary machine learning technology to blend together different API performance metrics to create a single credit score-like rating. This allows you to see at a glance how each API is performing. It tells you whether it’s getting better or worse, and how it compares to other APIs – your own, your partners or your competitors.

APIContext allows you to build a picture of how your mission-critical APIs are performing. Then it alerts you as soon as problems start. If the quality starts to drop, you can take action before users are affected.

If your company relies on Tesla’s APIs, you want to know exactly how they are behaving from the perspective that actually matters – that of the end user. (Or your logistic function relies on the APIs of a courier service, or your marketing function on those of an email service.)

APIContext gives you API knowledge from exactly that perspective, and provides the intelligence to understand the APIs.

As the world becomes ever more connected via APIs, APIContext helps ensure that those kinds of days are few and far between for API users and providers.


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