Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui

Blog Feed Post

API Management as a Platform

Why should you think of API management as a platform? Because it’s becoming one of the most prodigious and important aspects of how Enterprises of all sizes participate in the digital economy.Keeping in line with the standard platform technology definition, an API management platform  supports the deployment of Enterprise APIs without the introduction and expense of a new process or technology. A platform allows the management of APIs as a first class citizen for the Enterprise.

API Management as a Platform

In J.K. Rowling’s novel “Harry Potter”, choosing the right platform makes all the difference.

To date, many of the discussions around API management from vendors and analysts alike have been very technology or implementation focused. This is understandable as APIs tend to appeal to a technical audience. The details are great but sometimes it is worthwhile to step back and look at general capabilities.

If we take the wider view, what sort of capabilities or functional modules should an API Management platform have?

Gartner’s Eric Knipp released new research last week that begins to define API management as a complete platform. The research is entitled Run and Evolve a Great Web API with API Management CapabilitiesNot everyone will have a Gartner subscription, but I think this research will be one of the most important for Enterprises looking to deploy API management due to the breadth of material it covers.

In this research note, Eric is one of the first analysts to describe a comprehensive set of capabilities for API Management.

API Management Platform Capabilities

He breaks the topic into four categories which he calls (i) enable developers, (ii) manage the API life cycle, (iii) communicate securely, reliably, and flexibly, and (iv) measure improve business value.

Enabling developers includes all aspects of managing API metadata, the API catalog, community management, and also includes interesting capabilities such as developer API customization which is an advanced concept that really puts the developer in control of the API. Here the developer can morph the interface to their liking, allowing the consumer to effectively participate in the interface design. It really puts the developer at the center of how data is accessed. Also, this category expands the discussion to include the notion of SDKs and sample code that developers can directly incorporate, moving one step beyond just providing interfaces definitions.

Managing the API Life cycle includes how APIs are published, how versioning is handled as well as changes and issue tracking. For example, an API management platform needs to have CRM capabilities and ticket tracking, truly treating the developers as customers.

Communicate Securely, Reliably, and Flexibly includes all aspects of surfacing APIs from legacy systems, scaling traffic, handling authentication, SLAs, building service orchestrations, and providing threat defense and data privacy. This is the largest category  in terms of the sheer number of capabilities and approximates the “runtime”or “traffic’ portions of moving data in and out of interfaces.

Measure and Improve Business Value includes all the capabilities needed to relate APIs to the business as well as measuring uptime, activity, user auditing, contracts and terms of service, and SLA monitoring. This generic set of capabilities answers the questions: Is my API providing value? Is it up and running? How are business relationships maintained?

One of the merits of this article is that it does a great job of outlining precise requirements without diving into  specific implementation choices. As with most things that involve software and technology, implementations can have different physical instantiations but still support a consistent set of common capabilities. Talking in capabilities allows decision makers to stay out of technology “rat holes” that can color  and bias business decisions.

Long Live APIs

This research note advances the discussion around API management by widening its scope and purpose, moving it from a technology discussion to a capability and platform discussion. Early in the article Eric widens the definition of APIs.

He explicitly covers messaging APIs, SOAP APIs and custom APIs in addition to RESTful APIs. I think this move is absolutely correct. Not only does it more closely approach the original definition of the term, but it matches well with the idea of subsuming the older SOA terminology to militate under a new banner of APIs, similar to a previously article I wrote on the subject, Long Live API Management.

We are only killing the name, not the act of service enablement. Eric’s article seems to represent APIs as big concept, including the full suite of programmatic access whether realized as REST, JSON, XMLSOAP, XML-RPC, Messsage-Oriented-Middleware (MOM), FTP and file protocols, as well as (correctly) broadening the definition to include software development kits and sample code. One can even go as far as to say any programmatic interface is an API – and voila,  APIs are regaining their original definition as a true application programming interface. The lesson here is to ditch the jargon and apply what works for the Enterprise.

Eric also makes some statements around APIs  a universal tunnel to the Enterprise and correctly describes them as follows: “As a programmatic channel into your enterprise, it is critical that you identify and address any attacks or misuse of your API”.

This critical point highlights the importance of APIs moving forward, if businesses like Expedia are doing 80% of their revenue through APIs,  it’s APIs that are the front door to your Enterprise, and by implication, apps that send and receive data over this channel, – not necessarily the website.

Attackers always look for the weakest link, and APIs are largely wide-open at this point. Many of the existing 30,000+ APIs in the wild have been optimized for rapid adoption and bolstering a developer ecosystem, not for protecting Enterprise assets.

This is why APIs need rock-solid, bulletproof API management for increased protection.

APIs and Data Protection

Eric also mentions encryption under the data privacy category and talks about both transport level security and message level security. To expand the discussion here we can also add things like JSON message level security, format preserving encryption and even the “ancient” WS-Security/XML Security protection mechanisms here. I was also excited to see the inclusion of data masking. Eric describes this as two-way, which I think is the correct approach though my terminology would be different as we use the term tokenization here, but the concept is the same. The distinctions we use in our product line include redaction (for one-way removal of sensitive information) and tokenization, to indicate a reversible mechanism for replacing plaintext with a surrogate.

I can’t reproduce Eric’s entire article here, but it’s definitely worth a read and matches what we are hearing from Enterprises today – it’s about understanding and supporting the breadth of capabilities.

If you’d like more information on Intel’s API Management products, please visit our website.

The post API Management as a Platform appeared first on Application Security.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Application Security

This blog references our expert posts on application and web services security.

Microservices Articles
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and value...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
Containers and Kubernetes allow for code portability across on-premise VMs, bare metal, or multiple cloud provider environments. Yet, despite this portability promise, developers may include configuration and application definitions that constrain or even eliminate application portability. In this session we'll describe best practices for "configuration as code" in a Kubernetes environment. We will demonstrate how a properly constructed containerized app can be deployed to both Amazon and Azure ...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
Consumer-driven contracts are an essential part of a mature microservice testing portfolio enabling independent service deployments. In this presentation we'll provide an overview of the tools, patterns and pain points we've seen when implementing contract testing in large development organizations.