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For those interested in cloud computing, you've probably noticed Microsoft has announced a number of new features for its Azure Cloud offering, as the company goes to aggressively seize market share from cloud computing leader Amazon Web Services. Microsoft’s new initiatives include both a serious move into the Government cloud sector, as well as aggressive price drops. Microsoft has also been moving quickly into new geographic areas with Azure, most notably China.

On October 23rd, Microsoft announced another initiative relating to Azure, the acquisition of one year old cloud Application programming interface (API) startup Apiphany. Apiphany describes itself as providing the following capabilities around the SaaS segment of cloud computing:

“Rapidly launch, control, and scale your APIs in the cloud with the Apiphany API Management Platform. It's SaaS delivered in a simple, pay-as-you-go, utility model.”

APIs provide a method for how one software component can interact with another, and have become fundamental to the operation of the internet. Think about when you use a social log-in such as Twitter or Facebook to connect to another site – you are doing this through an API. Hence, any company that wants one of its services or applications to connect with another application must by definition provide an API for outside developers to be able to work with it.

With this acquisition, Microsoft is ensuring that outside developers are able to build SaaS applications that can be hosted on the Azure cloud. The purchase was announced by Microsoft in a blog post 
by Steven Martin, General Manager, General Manager of Windows Azure Business and Marketing:

“cloud computing has rapidly accelerated the use cases for extensibility which has increased the value of the APIs. As you might expect, with expansion and increased value, comes additional work to expose APIs reliably, securely and at scale.”

Apiphany itself has already announced 
that its service will shortly be available directly from the Azure cloud platform. As a side note, Apiphany is actually an interesting story. It was started barely one year ago out of a garage in the tony Washington, DC area of Georgetown – a neighborhood better known for political dinner parties than technology startups – and the speed with which they were acquired would appear to demonstrate that they must have a compelling technical solution for Microsoft to pounce so quickly.

I have
argued previously that Microsoft is a company whose capabilities tend to be grossly underestimated by the general tech press, and this acquisition clearly shows both Microsoft’s serious commitment to Azure as well as its capacity to build or acquire the innovation they need to continue growing.

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