February 13th, 2012

Enterprise Apps & APIs: Current State

Enterprise Apps & APIsI really enjoyed presenting my first Layer 7 webinar last Wednesday, discussing enterprise mobile access and the “bring your own device” (BYOD) movement. This movement is snowballing and is even hitting the mainstream radar as this Globe & Mail article attests.  We can all speculate about what the ultimate impact will be on enterprise IT – and I certainly did that in the webinar – but we have to start from where we stand today. Therefore, here are some answers to the “current state” questions attendees asked at the end of the webinar…

How secure can mobile really be? Can it be used in government or defense organizations?
As Nathan Clevenger observes in his book iPad in the Enterprise, the increasing consumerization of IT has reversed the innovation flow. Whereas government research used to lead to technological invention that would be leveraged by businesses and then packaged for consumers (think silicon chips), we are now seeing consumer technology being embraced by business – and high-security government agencies are relatively late adopters due to their data protection concerns. However, mobile is definitely not being rejected by these organizations, since the potential increase in productivity and cost savings are way too high to ignore. At Layer 7, we feel strongly that our solutions can help the most secure organizations embrace mobile and Cloud strategies, as we are able to open up those new worlds while preserving existing security policies and even leveraging existing security infrastructure through new methods such as OAuth.

Have you seen enterprise customers moving apps to the Cloud to support the scale required for mobile?
Mobile app traffic has the potential to increase Enterprise API volumes by orders of magnitude. We’ve worked with clients who have gone through this exponential growth. This means more revenue for these companies but their infrastructure must be able to handle these new peaks. Satisfying this demand is absolutely driving migration of enterprise workloads to the Cloud. We recently did a webinar with Amazon and Best Buy on just this type of solution and are happy to report that Black Friday went off without a hitch. Our Layer 7 solutions are able to help on both sides of this equation: securing and scaling inbound mobile connections, as well as outbound to the Cloud.

Do you see enterprises using the API Portal mostly for internal or external developers?
Currently, much of the focus of mobile app development is in the public domain. Start-ups and established companies alike are looking to populate the Apple App Store and the Android Market. As we get further along the maturity curve of enterprise mobile migration, more and more apps will be developed explicitly for employees and companies will move to mobile device management for app distribution, as using public repositories will no longer be an option. So today, most of our Portal users are providing APIs for use by external developers but we expect to see a dramatic increase in enterprise portal usage for in-house development.

We’re at the start of a very exciting enterprise IT transformation and I hope these answers provide some insight into where we are today. Now, back to the future…

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