April 30th, 2012

Cloud & Clear

Hybrid CloudIt’s April in Vancouver, which got me thinking about clouds.  Although the IT buzz in 2012 has been dominated by mobile and big data, Cloud computing is still a hot topic, especially since it is an enabler for both. In the public Cloud space, Google just launched Drive in the same week that Microsoft updated SkyDrive. In the private Cloud domain, IBM recently announced its PureSystems platform, which falls along similar lines as the Exa- line from Oracle.

It will be interesting to see whether or not big enterprises buy into this “21st century mainframe” concept but what’s clear is that enterprises now want to migrate critical workloads to the Cloud, en masse. To realize the true benefits of Cloud, many of these workloads will have to be running off-premise. But since many will remain on-premise, enterprises will be relying on hybrid Cloud infrastructure for their most significant IT services.

Security remains a major area of concern for organizations looking to leverage the Cloud. Increasingly, availability and reliability are also significant concerns, particularly since Amazon has had a few outages recently. In addition to addressing these concerns, enterprises are evaluating how they can optimize processing volumes to get maximum cost benefit from their Cloud deployments.

Please join me at the Cloud Expo, June 11-14 in New York, where I’ll be discussing solutions for each of these considerations. Hey, we should have blue skies by then!

April 27th, 2012

Tech Talk Tuesday: Developer Management

API Developer Management

Time for another Tech Talk Folks. API developer management. During this interactive one-hour event, we’ll be discussing how enterprises can attract, engage and manage developers for their open APIs.

Open APIs allow enterprises to build communities of third-party developers around their applications and data. But many enterprises struggle to ensure developers actually use these APIs to build apps that deliver real value.

On Tuesday May 1 (add to your calendar) we’ll be offering real-world developer management strategies that will help you get maximum benefit from your APIs.

So be sure to come to the Layer 7 Facebook page at 9am PDT.

How to Attend:

Just visit the Layer 7 Facebook page at 9am PDT on May 1 and click the Livestream icon.

Don’t have Facebook? Simply click here to watch directly through Livestream.

Submit questions on Facebook or use the Twitter hash-tag #layer7live

How to Submit Questions:

On Facebook

•    Click on the Livestream PLAY button to join the stream
•    Click the red “Check in to Chat” button to submit questions

On Twitter
•    Tweet questions with the hashtag #layer7live

Guest Expert: Dana Crane

As Product Manager for Layer 7′s API Portal, Dana Crane sets the direction of the company’s newest product.
His involvement in creating this product has given him deep insight into what it takes to build active developer communities around open APIs.
Dana holds a BSc from the University of Toronto and a diploma in hard knocks from the Internet boom.

Add to Your Calendar

April 25th, 2012

BYOD is a HUGE Opportunity for Mobile App Developers

API Portal for Mobile DevelopersCalling all mobile app developers! You have the whole IT world in your hands. Mobile migration represents a shift in IT as large as the PC explosion of the 80s or the Internet boom of the 90s. And mobile apps will prove to be the major driving force behind this shift – exerting an even greater pressure than the devices that run these apps. For evidence of this, have a look at the launch-day download stats for Instagram’s Android app.

Up to this point, apps have focused mainly on consumers. But with the BYOD (“bring-your-own-device”) movement’s unstoppable momentum driving mobile devices into the center of the enterprise IT landscape, there is a growing need for enterprise apps that give employees the user experience they are used to with consumer apps. That means a decent chunk of the $3.8 trillion spent on enterprise IT this year could be heading to mobile app developers like you.

Building mobile apps for the enterprise is going to create some new challenges, though. Perhaps most significantly, you will be much more reliant on enterprise data and applications. That’s going to mean a lot of work integrating the functional requirements for your apps and even more work nailing down the non-functional areas like security, scalability and availability. Nevertheless, these challenges are well worth accepting, given the stakes.

The good news is that Layer 7 will be out there making things easier for you. We help enterprises expose data and applications as RESTful APIs, significantly simplifying integration with mobile apps. Additionally, our API Portal product helps developers discover and get maximum value from enterprise APIs. It’s an exciting time for mobile developers and we’re excited to be laying the foundation upon which a generation of enterprise apps will be built.

April 20th, 2012

The Well-Designed API

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Layer 7 API Portal AnalyticsWe have worked with a lot of APIs here at Layer 7. And over time we’ve seen it all, ranging from the good to the bad. We’ve even seen the downright ugly. Now a good API is a beautiful thing –  it encourages innovation, abstracts appropriately and is designed with enough forethought that nobody needs to change it down the road. Resiliency is a good quality in APIs, as they will probably be around for a long time. APIs are a little like cockroaches in that they will likely outlive the human race.

But what about the other ones? The ugly and bad ones? This is where developers could use some guidance.

Truth is, good API design isn’t really hard but it’s not easy. One thing I point people to is Leonard Richardson’s Maturity Model for REST, which Martin Fowler explores in his blog. Now I’m not a REST purist by any means – I’m as guilty of quick-and-dirty HTTP tunneling hacks as the next guy – but when you see the maturity phases laid out so succinctly, you can’t help but be inspired to move toward more “resourceful” thinking and maybe even learn to love HATEOS. Part of good API design is knowing what you should aspire to – and Richardson’s model is much more concise and accessible than Fielding’s thesis.

Another good source of advice is Joshua Bloch’s superb Google TechTalk How to Design A Good API & Why it Matters. Bloch wrote what is arguably the most important book about Java ever written and indeed his talk is about APIs using Java as the model. But don’t let that deter you. Virtually everything Bloch discusses is as relevant to RESTful JSON-style APIs as it is to Java. Follow his advice, transpose it to your language of choice, frame it with an understanding of where you want to land in the maturity model for REST and you will end the day with great APIs.

April 16th, 2012

Webinar Reminder: Developers, Developers, Developers

Layer 7 RedMonk Developers WebinarIt’s about developers again.

Everything in technology goes through cycles. If you stick around long enough, you begin to see patterns emerge with an almost predictable regularity. I actually find this comforting; it suggests we’re on a path of refinement of fundamental truths that date back in a continuous line though Alan Kay to Turing and beyond.

The wrong way to react to technology cycles is with the defensive-and-crusty “this is nothing new kid—we did it back in ’99 when you were stuck in the womb.” Thanks for nothing, Grandpa. A better approach is to recognize the importance of new energy and momentum to make great things happen.

The cycle that really excites me now is the new rise of the developer. Trying my best not to be crusty, there is a palatable excitement and energy out there that really does feel like it did in 1999. After years of outsourcing, after years of commoditization, developers matter again. A lot. It’s like the world has rediscovered the critical importance of this fundamentally creative endeavor.

This is a golden age of technology and possibility, one that is being driven by new blood and newer technology. The catalyst is the achingly perfect collision of Cloud, mobility and social discovery with APIs, node.js, Git, NoSQL, HTML5, massive scalability… (I really could go on and on here).

Most of all, I’m excited by movements like Codecademy. This simple idea perfectly reflects the tenor of the time in which we live. People are no longer afraid of making things easy. The priesthood is gone; coding is now confident and mature.

I’ll be talking more about these topics – and the important role APIs play – in an upcoming webinar I will be delivering with James Governor, co-founder of RedMonk. This is the analyst firm that truly is at the heart of the new developer movement. I hope you can join us Thursday, April 19 at 9am Pacific. This one is going to be good.

Click here to register for the webinar: Developers, Deveopers, Developers - Why API Management Should be Important to You featuring RedMonk