October 2nd, 2012

Non-Function Junction: API Automation for Enterprise Operations

API Operations AutomationRecently, I’ve been working closely with a number of large enterprise clients who have already gone or will soon go live with Layer 7 solutions at the core of mission-critical infrastructure. I’ve observed that, in the API Management space, proof of concept and initial projects often focus on functional needs but the emphasis shifts to non-functional requirements as environments mature and sharing increases. There’s a clear, three-phase progression for large enterprises, which moves along these lines:

  1. Solve the basic functional use cases – The 80% in the 80-20 rule
  2. Solve the remaining, more complex use cases – The 20%
  3. Deploy the basic functions on an enterprise scale – Back to the 80%

In Phase 3, it’s all about performance, scalability, operability, security, availability and consumability. The problems are very complex but the goal is to make the resulting solution as usable and simple as possible, given the wide range of users, developers, testers and operators that will be involved in its execution. As technology vendors, we are often guilty of focusing inwardly on bells and whistles, rather than outwardly on interoperability. This works well for phases 1 and 2 but brings a reckoning in the third phase. Fortunately, at Layer 7, we’ve spent the past decade working with enterprise clients and have evolved our products to meet their adaptability, reliability and automation needs.

The Layer 7 Management API is at the core of this capability. The Management API ships with all Layer 7 Gateways, to enable automated administration of policies, resources and access control that can plug into enterprise configuration management, deployment and monitoring systems. It can be accessed programmatically through a Java API, on the network through a Web service API or built into command line scripts. For the clients I have worked with, this capability and the assurance it provides on moving through the systems development lifecycle is quite simply a must have.

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