Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Stackify Blog, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Industrial IoT, Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Accelerate Mobile Application Development within Healthcare

Using API Management and Governance

Slide Deck from Gene Dragotta and Sachin Agarwal's Cloud Expo Presentation: A Peek into the Future of Mobile-Enabled Health Care

While unprecedented technological advances have been made in healthcare in areas such as genomics, digital imaging and Health Information Systems, access to this information has not been easy for both the healthcare provider and the patient themselves. Regulatory compliance and controls, information lock-in in proprietary Electronic Health Record systems and security concerns have made it difficult to share data across health care providers.

The opportunities inherent in mobile technology are dramatically changing the way healthcare business gets done. Healthcare provider professionals are adopting mobile devices and tablets as an alternative to desktops/laptops and using mobile applications to augment gaps in existing patient management system capabilities. Developing mobile applications for the healthcare industry has some unique challenges, particularly protecting your backend data services while making them available to mobile application frameworks and SDKs.

Mobile applications utilize messaging patterns similar to the client/server and AJAX patterns, however unlike desktop clients, mobile devices have to minimize client side processing to maximize battery life and also keep network chatter to a basic minimum. This is achieved by using RESTful APIs with machine-readable formats like JSON. The availability, reliability and performance of these API-based services are critical to the successful deployment and operating of your application.  Now add some healthcare domain requirements (encryption, security, etc.,) to this environment and there is a lot of work to do in addition to the actual coding of your mobile application.  An API management system will simplify exposing and consuming backend healthcare services through a variety of different channels. To successfully implement an API, you will need a tool that will enable simple enforcement of API controls, continuous monitoring capabilities, performance management, and assurance of high availability.

An API management system will typically provide capabilities for creating and registering service as follows:

  • Secure API Services
  • Manage API Lifecycles
  • Mediate and Virtualize Services
  • Govern Access to Services
  • Integrate Services and their Data
  • Support Authentication and Authorization for all APIs and Services, including OAuth, OpenID, SAML, Kerberos, WS-Security, LDAP and XACML
  • Support for all Major Security Standards, including WS*and WS-I

The focus of this article is to discuss how a unified API management and SOA governance platform can accelerate your organization's ability to deliver reliable, scalable and secure mobile applications for healthcare providers. First we will begin with the major technical challenges encountered when deploying healthcare-based mobile applications. Then we will discuss API management and governance platform expectations that can help you overcome these challenges such as the following:

  • Data Encryption
  • Access Control - Role and Application-based Access
  • Integration / Orchestration of data from Multiple Provider Systems
  • Mediation
  • Quality of Service Control
  • Usage Analytics / Event Management

Security - Encryption, Authentication and Authorization
A PKI facilitates users, applications and systems to exchange insecure data safely by encrypting it prior to transmission. Unlike traditional cryptography that uses private keys also known as symmetric cryptography, the public key infrastructure utilizes public key cryptography or asymmetric cryptography. This is used to authenticate a user or manage message encryption.

With asymmetrical cryptography, a public and private key are created simultaneously using the same algorithm (such as RSA) by the certificate authority. The private key is given to the requesting party and the public key is made publicly available (embedded within the certificate) in a location that all parties can access. The private key is used to decrypt text that has been encrypted with the public key. The certificate is used to authenticate the user.

Typically a PKI provides:

  • A certificate authority (CA) who issues and verifies the digital certificate. A certificate includes the public key or information about the public key
  • A registration authority (RA) acts as the verifier for the certificate authority before a digital certificate is issued to a requestor
  • Persistent storage of the certificates and keys
  • A certificate management system (creation, import, export, revocation, etc.)

In addition to authenticating with a validated digital certificate, using SAML, an SSO token, basic HTTP authentication, an X.509 certificate, an application token or a third-party IAM system are all popular approaches that can be used to securely connect your mobile application to back-end systems and data services residing with the HIE enterprise.

When health provider personnel authenticate themselves on systems that access patient health records; it's likely that different employees will require and qualify for various levels of data access based on their job description. For this reason, a role-based authentication / authorization framework is recommended. For example, the front office personnel may only have a need to see basic information such as patient demographics, insurance and medication information and a nurse might be required to have access to the entire patient's medical record. Having a framework for implementing role-based access will easily help filter and mask patient data attributes from un-authorized use.

Mediation and Service Orchestration
Where are your patient's medical records, how many sources of data needed to be aggregated, transformed and merged to assemble them, what formats of data do these sources of patient record fragments support etc.? Architects and developers typically face these questions when working with multiple systems both internally and externally to assemble a patient's holistic and contiguous health history or continuity of care document (HL7 CCD). Often developer are using integration engines such as Rhapsody, Mirth, etc., to transform HL7 messages, legacy EDI messages, database data, along with other source of patient information into in XML and usually exposed via a SOAP service.

Most mobile UX frameworks support some form of a model-view-controller runtime design pattern or at a minimum provide a way to perform an XMLHttpRequest to retrieve data. Whether using an MVC pattern or a lower-level URL request, REST is the preferred method (over SOAP) primarily for the simplicity of setting up the request. A SOAP service will return an XML document. When using a JavaScript-based framework such as Sencha Touch, using JSON for data objects is usually preferred. The mobile app framework's data store component prefers the use of a REST service and the data it returns to be in JSON format. With this approach, the integration engine is providing a SOAP/XML service, unless we re-write and convert the SOAP service to a REST service, the mobile application will need to mediate between the SOAP and REST protocols and XML and JSON object formats.

In addition to mediation, service orchestration and the creation of compound services are a common requirement for health care oriented mobile applications. As an example, in order to create a patient's HL7 CCD, patient data usually resides within multiple systems, data service requests (primitives) to these systems will need to be orchestrated to form the resulting CCD dataset. In some cases, data returned from some of the primitive service requests may require some transformation or may be used as input to a subsequent request. Encapsulating and abstracting multiple primitive requests and any associated logic into a single composite service operation will reduce overall mobile application implementation complexity and message traffic between the mobile device and the HIE data center.

Policy-based Governance Controls for API Services
In most cases, we probably want different licenses with different levels of service (and access) to the backend APIs that enable our mobile applications. The levels of service could be measured in throughput, the bandwidth consumed over time, concurrency and availability.

Within the realm of health care you might want to have some specific controls or governance policies regarding the use of the HIE's back-end system services or APIs. Below are some QoS and SLA examples.

  • Allow APIs to be called no more than 10 times per minute per device
  • Allow devices to consume no more than 100MB per hour
  • Prevent devices from outside the trusted country list (user-defined)
  • Allow devices with this IP address range x.x.x.x-x.x.x.x to access the service layer
  • Prevent Denial-of-Service attacks with quota management and white/blacklisting
  • Only allow certain APIs to be called by specific user roles

The back-end services within the HEI should be deployed within an infrastructure that can provide a similar level of API governance.

Usage Analytics
In order to understand how your HEI back-end service layer is performing and being utilized by its application consumers, the API management platform should provide access to real-time API usage statistics, API status and event and SLA violation monitoring. These analytics can be used for troubleshooting, performance tuning, threat detection and various usage reports.

Most enterprises utilize a dashboard and reporting system that ingests telemetry data from a variety of systems within the enterprise. Data from these systems are combined to create a complete picture of enterprise system activity. Therefore it may become important to have a capability that can export or publish API management system telemetry data to an enterprise activity monitoring system or reporting data warehouse.

Conclusion
Healthcare-focused mobile applications contain complex use cases and have strict operational requirements. Security models, message protocol mediation services, service usage statistic collection, data transformations and service orchestration functions are all features that can easily be added to your mobile application by leveraging and integrating an API management and governance system with your service oriented architecture.

More Stories By Gene Dragotta and Sachin Agarwal

Gene Dragotta is a senior software developer and architect with 20 years of experience building distributed systems for the finance, insurance, government, military and the health care sector domains. Mr. Dragotta recently completed and deployed a mobile solution that utilizes the HL7 messaging protocol to remotely manage emergency battlefield dialysis treatments from a mobile device. Additionally Gene spent 3 years as a Tibco / Data Synapse Cloud Computing solutions architect building private and hybrid cloud computing infrastructures and migrating applications to those environments.

Sachin Agarwal is Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software. He possesses more than 17 years of enterprise and startup experience focussing on using disruptive technologies to drive business growth. His expertise spans from infrastructure technologies like security and middleware to business centric applications like social, digital marketing, and analytics. At SOA Software he drives product marketing, strategy and customer adoption for API Management solutions. Prior to SOA Software, he held senior management roles in Product Management and Development at Oracle, Oblix and Infosys.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
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...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Regardless of what business you’re in, it’s increasingly a software-driven business. Consumers’ rising expectations for connected digital and physical experiences are driving what some are calling the "Customer Experience Challenge.” In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Marco Morales, Director of Global Solutions at CollabNet, will discuss how organizations are increasingly adopting a discipline of Value Stream Mapping to ensure that the software they are producing is poised to o...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real r...
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing bes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus intern...
This talk centers around how to automate best practices in a multi-/hybrid-cloud world based on our work with customers like GE, Discovery Communications and Fannie Mae. Today’s enterprises are reaping the benefits of cloud computing, but also discovering many risks and challenges. In the age of DevOps and the decentralization of IT, it’s easy to over-provision resources, forget that instances are running, or unintentionally expose vulnerabilities.
It has never been a better time to be a developer! Thanks to cloud computing, deploying our applications is much easier than it used to be. How we deploy our apps continues to evolve thanks to cloud hosting, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and now Function-as-a-Service. FaaS is the concept of serverless computing via serverless architectures. Software developers can leverage this to deploy an individual "function", action, or piece of business logic. They are expected to start within milliseconds...
There are two main reasons for infrastructure automation. First, system administrators, IT professionals and DevOps engineers need to automate as many routine tasks as possible. That’s why we build tools at Stackify to help developers automate processes like application performance management, error monitoring, and log management; automation means you have more time for mission-critical tasks. Second, automation makes the management of complex, diverse environments possible and allows rapid scal...
One of the biggest challenges with adopting a DevOps mentality is: new applications are easily adapted to cloud-native, microservice-based, or containerized architectures - they can be built for them - but old applications need complex refactoring. On the other hand, these new technologies can require relearning or adapting new, oftentimes more complex, methodologies and tools to be ready for production. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, Solutions Marketi...
We all know that end users experience the internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices - not doing so will be a path to eventual ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry’s single source for the cloud. Fusion’s advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
The purpose of this article is draw attention to key SaaS services that are commonly overlooked during contact signing that are essential to ensuring they meet the expectations and requirements of the organization and provide guidance and recommendations for process and controls necessary for achieving quality SaaS contractual agreements.
SYS-CON Events announced today that OpsGenie will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2012, OpsGenie is an alerting and on-call management solution for dev and ops teams. OpsGenie provides the tools needed to design actionable alerts, manage on-call schedules and escalations, and ensure that the right people are notified at the right time, using multiple notification methods.