Cars.com: Speeding up the automotive marketplace with APIs

About Cars.com

Cars.com is a leading digital automotive marketplace that creates meaningful connections between buyers and sellers. The company empowers consumers with resources and information to make informed buying decisions by connecting advertising partners with in-market car shoppers and providing data-driven intelligence to car dealers to increase inventory turn and gain market share.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

Cars.com connects auto buyers and sellers by easily sharing research, inventory, pricing, and lead data for data-driven decision making through the Apigee API management platform.

Google Cloud Results

  • Exposes more than 100 APIs to enable marketplace for enriched automotive sales data
  • Improves visibility into API calls for monitoring rate limits, throttling, and security
  • Enables self-service reporting for business users

40M requests daily through the Apigee platform

Cars.com creates meaningful connections between auto buyers and sellers by giving consumers the resources and information to make informed buying decisions. The company also provides data-driven intelligence to automotive dealerships to enable them to provide more targeted ads to car shoppers. As a purely digital platform, APIs play a fundamental role in keeping the company's wheels turning.

"We can expose an API in a matter of days as opposed to weeks, because all you have to do is build a proxy, do a little configuration, and then expose it. We also gain visibility into who is making calls to better debug and isolate the issues."

Surendra Pamidi, Principal Strategist, Cars.com

Early adoption, sticky features

As long-time Apigee users, the team at Cars.com had initially adopted the API management platform several years ago to expose data including car listings and performance metrics to its reseller partners. The initial requirement soon grew to include developing and managing APIs for sharing data with mobile apps and the company's Salesforce customer relationship management platform. The out-of-the-box proxies featured in Apigee proved especially valuable to the company's development team, which also leverages security features including throttling and rate limiting for managing ecosystem partners.

Surendra Pamidi, Principal Strategist at Cars.com, explains the efficiencies that Apigee affords his team. "We can expose an API in a matter of days as opposed to weeks, because all you have to do is build a proxy, do a little configuration, and then expose it," says Pamidi. "We also gain visibility into who is making calls to better debug and isolate the issues. In addition, we can protect the infrastructure through message security policies."

As an added benefit, business users outside the developer team use the Apigee reporting feature to look at how partners make calls and generate reports on a self-service basis. The ease of use for non-technical users enables the business to access on-demand information and frees developers' time to focus on other projects rather than running reports.

The self-service concept also extends to the API development process. In the past, Cars.com developers relied on their infrastructure team to expose endpoints through firewalls and load balancers, which created friction in the deployment process. By adopting a lean and agile development process using APIs, they were able to self-serve and manage the process independently. This means that the large team that owns the underlying back-end services also essentially owns the APIs.

"Most of the developers touch APIs in one form or another," Pamidi explains. "We enjoy the benefit of everyone being familiar with most of our APIs because Apigee has such a big footprint in our stack."

"Managing our Apigee deployment in-house gives us the advantage of better securing our data as well as visibility into traffic about who is calling what so we can quickly isolate issues and protect the infrastructure."

Surendra Pamidi, Principal Strategist, Cars.com

Innovating against the wind

As early Apigee adopters, Cars.com leveraged its experience with the platform to make the unusual decision to bring deployment on-premises from the cloud. Initially, the company used its cloud deployment to share data with partners, mobile applications, and SaaS applications outside the data center boundary. However, the vision was to leverage the APIs for applications accessing data within and outside the boundaries of Cars.com's network. As a significant portion of the traffic originates within network, the team had to deploy the platform as close to the data and apps to avoid latency issues.

To successfully bring Apigee in-house, developers worked to automate the three-month product lifecycle to deploy patches and rollout major and minor versions. They also needed to create an in-house support team that oversees the platform on a daily basis. Additionally, they had to think about managing APIs from an organizational standpoint, and what kind of governance was required.

Having addressed these issues, the company is happy with the decision. "Managing our Apigee deployment in-house gives us the advantage of better securing our data as well as visibility into traffic about who is calling what so we can quickly isolate issues and protect the infrastructure," says Pamidi.

As the business matured, Cars.com came to see itself as a data company, with APIs being an essential part of the company's strategy. The way that smarter experiences are built for consumers, customers, and partners would all be driven through APIs.

"I love APIs because they allow us to rapidly build smarter experiences and manage them easily with the Apigee platform."

Surendra Pamidi, Principal Strategist, Cars.com

Growing its place in the market through APIs

Cars.com continues to expand its business and to connect car buyers and sellers thanks to the ability to easily share data through APIs. As a premier provider of data on car and truck makes and models, inventory, pricing, and community feedback, the company today collects and qualifies more sales leads than ever, making Cars.com an even more valuable partner to car sellers. None of this growth would be possible without a more secure, easily managed API platform for handling high-volume traffic. "I love APIs because they allow us to rapidly build smarter experiences and manage them easily with the Apigee platform," concludes Pamidi.

About Cars.com

Cars.com is a leading digital automotive marketplace that creates meaningful connections between buyers and sellers. The company empowers consumers with resources and information to make informed buying decisions by connecting advertising partners with in-market car shoppers and providing data-driven intelligence to car dealers to increase inventory turn and gain market share.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States
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