Google promises its days as a cold-eyed API-killer are behind it

Customers are afraid of commitment, so new rules for enterprise APIs promise to stick around until you ride off into the sunset

Google has acknowledged that it makes life hard for users when killing off little-loved products, by announcing an API policy that will keep its cloudy interfaces alive for as long as customers are using them.

A Tuesday announcement attributed to Google Cloud veep for Technical Infrastructure Kripa Krishnan and veep for Customer Experience John Jester stated:

"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."

Google's documentation about the change makes the same point, and reveals that the advertising giant knows customers may balk at commitment to its offerings if they're worried Google isn't committed.

"These APIs aim to build on the mutual trust with our customers necessary for long-term investments," the documentation states. "We want our customers to have the assurances they need to build creative new applications on top of our best-in-class infrastructure, using our innovative services and tools."

Google has therefore created three "tenets" for how it manages API lifecycles:

  • No feature may be removed (or changed in a way that is not backwards-compatible) for as long as customers are actively using it. If a deprecation or breaking change is inevitable, then the burden is on us to make the migration as effortless as possible. The only exception to this rule is if there are critical security, legal, or intellectual property issues caused by the feature.
  • 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. Customers will be offered resources to migrate to newer versions with equivalent functionality and performance. Google will also "work with customers to help them reduce their usage to as close to zero as possible".
  • Any change to an API will be reviewed by a centralized board of product and engineering leads who conduct "a rigorous product lifecycle evaluation".

The tenets cover Google Cloud, Google Workspaces and Google Maps. While consumer APIs are excluded, Google says "the vast majority of APIs" are covered by the new plan.

Google's cloud marketplace lists 184 APIs covered by the program. ®

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