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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.

Granting API access to mobile device users--creating a doorway through which outside software applications gain access to your company's services--is becoming available via a hosted service and as an embeddable part of the internal network.

Vancouver-based Layer 7 Technologies is offering a get-started API management system as a hosted service from its own data center, while Palo Alto, Calif.-based Apigee is adapting its API management platform to the enterprise's new software-defined network. Both moves may draw more mobile device users to businesses that implement public-facing APIs.

API management is an art that has sprung out of Google making Google Maps available through its public API and Netflix making films downloadable to PCs and mobile devices. Enterprises can build on the example, opening an API gateway that lets outside developers build applications that invoke a service or business process inside the company. The developers must be registered with the enterprise, vetted and granted a key for their application to work with the firm's public API. But these outside developers are increasingly sought for their ability to build apps that bring in new customers.

The applications they build are downloaded by end users to tablets, game consoles and TVs, as well as computers and smartphones.

Automobile manufacturers have started to participate in the application economy as well, with Ford offering Sync software applications "that help the vehicle to get to know you," instead of the other way around, according to CTO Paul Mascarenas.

[ Want to learn how Apigee added PCI-compliant credit-card transactions behind its API service? See Apigee: A Speed Lane To Safer Mobile Purchasing. ]

Layer 7's Core API Management

Applications that reach out to customers' mobile devices help maintain customer engagement. Dimitri Sirota, co-founder of Layer 7 and chief strategy officer, said his firm's HTP://APIfy.co service provides core API management for small firms or IT staffs that simply don't have the bandwidth to take on one more set of complications. Its functionality is a leaner version taken from the Layer 7 API Management Suite and made available through an online portal.

Companies opting to use the beta service will get a Web interface to assist with setting up secure, public-facing APIs. Developers seeking to make use of the APIs go through a process of being granted an API key and use OAuth authorization tools that allow one party to grant limited access to specific resources to another party. OAuth is an Internet Engineering Task Force standard.

Next: APIs and SDN 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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