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Apigee, Layer 7 Simplify API Development

API management firms give developers access to services that may bring in new customers or dynamically configure software-defined networks.

The API sponsor may use an analytics service that gives visibility into which developer applications are making the most frequent use of the API, which applications use it efficiently, and how well support for one developer is paying off versus another. A developer who needs lots of technical assistance but produces few service customers would tend to score low on the systems' developer scorecard. "Who's favorably monetizing the API and who's costing money" can be seen through the analytics scorecard, said Sirota in an interview.

Layer 7 announced its hosted Appify service at the CTIA MobileCON in San Diego Oct. 11, Sirota said. It will become generally available in early 2013 at the rate of $2,000 a month. The beta version is available for free until then. Customers who outgrow the hosted service can purchase the Layer 7 on-premises suite at a starting price of $50,000.

Apigee's SDN-Based Offering On Sept. 25, Apigee became the first company to move an API management system into the context of a software-defined network (SDN). SDNs, such as those based on the OpenFlow protocol, give network administrators the tools to program the network dynamically, assigning different types of network properties to a virtual network that occupies shared switches, routers and other network devices.

In an SDN, the network controller can be given a set of application requirements and then use them to program routers and switches to best meet those requirements. For example, an application with high messaging volumes but relative insensitivity to delivery speed might be kept separate from the route serving an application with very low latency requirements.

Implanting an API management capability in an SDN means the network can invoke an API to call an outside service, then put that service to work for the network. For example, an SDN controller produces "northbound" traffic reporting on its own activity and network performance. A security service summoned to examine the northbound traffic could find that the firewall had let in a previously unknown attack pattern. The network could then tell its security devices "this is bad traffic. If you see this IP address and this attack signature, drop it," Sam Ramji, Apigee VP of strategy, said in an interview.

An API system in an SDN lets a lot more software be written by DevOps or NetOps developers to accomplish specific goals on the network through the controllers. An enterprise might have peaks in CRM traffic during the day that it wishes to give priority. A NetOps developer could produce scripts that dictate more resources be granted to the CRM application as traffic reaches certain thresholds. The application would have its own API, with the controller's API visible to the developer through the API management system.

API management allows a big, monolithic network to be broken down into components. The different components can call an analytics API to go to a system that can return information needed to boost performance.

Ramji said a developer could talk to a single traffic management API that uses a load-balancing application under the covers to route traffic through different types of routers, each having its own network interface. Controllers from Juniper, Big Switch or Floodlight might each have their own programmable dialect, but a load management application could address all three through a single API. The task of the in-house developer producing a Ruby or Python application to do the load balancing would be made much easier using the API, Ramji noted.

Apigee's API management system for SDNs is available at a subscription rate of $9,000 a month.

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek, having joined the publication in 2003. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse ... View Full Bio

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