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Microservices Expo: Interview

API Platform Transforms Business Potential with API Management

Interview with Alistair Farquharson, CTO of SOA Software

What led to the creation of SOA Software'sEnterprise API Platform?

Alistair Farquharson, CTO of SOA Software: As industry-leader in SOA Governance we spend a lot of time tracking industry trends, and also in front of senior IT executive at F500 type companies. We saw an emerging trend around internet companies calling externally facing RESTful services APIs as early as 2008, and anticipated enterprise interest in these APIs. We recognized that the companies that were failing in their early markets and so were pivoting towards API Management were on the wrong track for enterprise APIs, and so began a product management and engineering initiative to deliver a solution that would meet the needs of large enterprises.

What needs does the platform address?

Farquharson: It helps customers use APIs to transform and drive their business. It spans the entire lifecycle of an API program, helping customers:

  • Make sure they build the right APIs for their business
  • Build those APIs the right way so that customers (developers) can use them properly
  • Make sure their APIs are behaving right (are secure, reliable, meeting SLA goals)
  • Promote and support their APIs through the developer community, including within their own branded community or the public open community

What makes your offering unique?

Farquharson: The product is unique in a few ways:

Support for the full API lifecycle from planning and development through operations and community

  • Enterprise-class - we have been delivering software and services solutions to large enterprise IT for years and understand the requirements, including security, integration with existing infrastructure, performance and reliability, and much more
  • Social Developer Community - other solutions offer API or Developer portals, but they don't provide the social aspects to drive network effect for API and App promotion across all developers in a community
  • Federation between enterprise and Open communities allowing enterprise customers to promote their APIs through the Open community
  • Multiple deployment options - the platform is available as on-premise software, Open (free) PaaS, Enterprise PaaS and a hybrid of these.

The SOA Software Enterprise API Platform is the first solution to address enterprise requirements across the entire API lifecycle, with planning, development, runtime and community management capabilities. With this solution enterprises can finally take advantage of the opportunities APIs present without compromising their security or brand integrity.

Other solutions only address a small sub-section of the overall requirements; focusing solely on API monitoring, or API security with no developer community capabilities; or offering only cloud or on-premise deployment options but not both. None of the other vendors in the market offer an adequate solution for managing the lifecycle of APIs, this is critical for any serious API initiative, especially for large enterprises with brands to protect. Furthermore, other solutions typically ignore existing investments in SOA platforms and SOA Governance despite the fact that most enterprise APIs will be built on top of existing SOA services. The Enterprise API Platform provides a comprehensive solution addressing all of these requirements and offering optional seamless integration with existing SOA Governance infrastructure and services to ensure end-to-end security, monitoring, management and impact analysis.

How broad is its platform support?

Farquharson: This is pretty much irrelevant in the API world, but we are entirely platform-independent supporting any standards-based (REST, SOAP, XML, JSON, etc) API regardless of the platform(s) exposing and consuming it

Does it integrate with existing enterprise infrastructures?

Farquharson: The EAP offers extensive integration with existing enterprise infrastructure. It works with:

  • Most common enterprise identity and access management systems - extending them to add support for standards like OpenID and OAuth
  • Enterprise database systems including Oracle, SQL Server, and DB2 as well as open database platforms
  • Enterprise monitoring and reporting systems

Does it tie in with other SOA Software offerings?

Farquharson: Yes, it integrates seamlessly with your existing SOA Governance infrastructure ensuring end-to-end security; monitoring and lifecycle integration (makes sure that dependent services are ready when needed to support APIs, provides capacity planning and impact analysis)

What are users' deployment options?

Farquharson: The platform is available as on-premise software, Open (free) PaaS, Enterprise PaaS and a hybrid of these

What is your pricing model, and how does it compare with competitive offerings?

Farquharson: On-premise software is priced per CPU for the runtime (API Proxy) components and per user (developer) for the Community. Open PaaS is free, allowing up to 10 million API transactions per month. Enterprise PaaS is priced on consumed bandwidth, starting at $6k per month for 100Gb. Competitive offerings are typically more expensive for their PaaS offerings, and most don't offer on-premise or hybrid options.

What are your support options?

Farquharson: Support is available online through the Open platform's build in discussion boards, and for enterprise customers it is available via email, phone or direct access to our online helpdesk.

Do you offer branding?

Farquharson: Yes, we (or the customer) can brand the on-premise or Enterprise PaaS solutions to provide the customer with their own developer community stamped with their own brand look and feel.

What are the main differentiators between the SOA Software Open platform you just announced and the SOA Software Enterprise API Platform?

Farquharson: Open is limited to 10 million API transactions per month, is not brandable, doesn't offer enterprise security system integration, and doesn't offer any form of guaranteed SLA.

What are the key benefits for API providers?

Farquharson: Full API lifecycle (the right API built the right way), API Security (OpenId, OAuth, Encryption, Signature), API Promotion and Support, App Provisioning, Developer Management

Is building a developer community key to API success?

Farquharson: Of course, without a developer community, who is going to use your API? Even in the case of small partner centric (B2B) API communities there is still scope to leverage the community for creative commons and self-support.

How does the Enterprise API Platform help in building such a community?

Farquharson: It provides a social platform with features like integrated discussions, ticketing systems, alerts, documentation, and innovate resource following concepts allowing users to track activity for resources they are interested in.

What is the impact of the SOA Software Enterprise APIPlatform on development time?

Farquharson: By offering comprehensive API development governance integrated with enterprise SOA Governance processes, the EAP helps ensure the alignment of SOA services with APIs (makes sure that dependent services are ready when needed to support APIs, provides capacity planning and impact analysis). It applies enterprise guidelines, rules and policies to the API development process to make sure that you are building the right APIs the right way.

Can it provide both security and openness?

Farquharson: Yes, that is the delicate balance in enterprise APIs and one which the EAP is designed from the ground up to deliver. By integrating with enterprise security systems, providing built-in PKI and supporting modern security standards it enables controlled, open access to APIs without compromising enterprise security.

Who are you looking to adopt the platform?

Farquharson: From an API provider perspective it's all about large enterprise with the on-premise solution, large and SME for the Enterprise PaaS, and the public developer community for SOA Software Open.

Are you targeting particular developers, such as the mobile app community?

Farquharson: Not particularly. We are targeting all App developers regardless of their chosen target platform. APIs support Apps on mobile devices, Webapps, and desktop apps, there is no particular preference.

Is SOA Software's Enterprise API a game changer?

Farquharson: Yes, it allows enterprises to confidently take advantage of the opportunities provided by the API world to unleash their business.

Thank you for your time! Oh, one more thing: how do I get the Enterprise API Platform?

Farquharson: My pleasure. The SOA Software Enterprise API Platform is available now. Pricing is based on throughput. Please contact us for details.

About SOA Software
SOA Software is a leading provider of Enterprise API Management and SOA governance products that enable customers to plan, build, run and share enterprise services and APIs. The world's largest companies including Bank of America, Pfizer, and Verizon use SOA Software products to harness the power of their technology and transform their businesses. Gartner placed SOA Software in the Leaders Quadrant for the 2011 "Magic Quadrant for SOA Governance Technologies." The company is also recognized as a "Leader" by the Forrester ResearchWaves for Integrated , SOA Management, and SOA Life Cycle Management.  For more information, please visit http://www.soa.com or follow the SOA on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SOASoftware.

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