September 6th, 2012

REST Fest 2012 in Greenville, SC

REST Fest 2012Over the weekend of September 13-15, a small band of Web architects and developers will – for the third year in a row – descend upon the town of Greenville, SC. They’ll be getting together to catch up on the events of the past year, share stories about recent projects and contemplate the future of Web and mobile applications.

This may sound like a typical tech conference but REST Fest is hardly that. Taking its cue from OpenSpaces and similar events, REST Fest is organized by attendees, for attendees. For example, one of the days is devoted to everyone hacking on the same general topic. Another is dedicated to short workshops, all presented by selected registrants.

Similarly, all the general session talks are delivered by the attendees themselves. That’s because one of the “rules” of REST Fest is “everyone talks and everyone listens”. When you sign up to join REST Fest, you are expected to deliver at least a five-minute lightning talk – and there are no exceptions!

Notable presenters will include keynote speaker Stu Charlton (former CTO of Elastra), Matt Bishop (Senior Product Architect at Elastic Path), Pat Cappelaere (currently working on NASA’s SensorWeb project), Leonard Richardson (co-author of O’Reilly’s RESTful Web Services), Sam Ramji (Head of Strategy at Apigee) and yours truly.

I feel privileged to be co-chair of REST Fest and I’m pleased to note that Layer 7 is the event’s Head Sponsor this year. Hope to see you there!

July 6th, 2012

OpenID Connect: Live Tech Talk July 10 9am PDT

OpenID ConnectOur Tech Talks strive to focus on the most interesting and relevant API Management topics for both developers and publishers. And as new and evolving protocols emerge, we want to provide a forum for developers and publishers alike to discuss these protocols in an open discussion forum. So with that in mind, our next Tech Talk will focus on OpenID Connect.

OpenID Connect is an emerging standard that adds federated authentication to OAuth 2.0-enabled systems. It’s a suite of lightweight specifications that provide a framework for identity interactions via RESTful APIs. And in its simplest deployment, OpenID Connect allows all types of clients including browser-based, mobile and javascript to request and receive information about identities and currently authenticated sessions.

So, it’s a relatively simple protocol that helps make authenticating complicated scenarios easier. And let’s be honest – simple and easy are always welcome when it comes to securing RESTful APIs. Authorization and authentication are now available using only one technology. This makes life easier for anyone looking to secure their APIs.

But of course, questions always arise when discussing the various implementation scenarios for OpenID Connect. That’s why we’re excited to welcome Senior Software Developer Sascha Preibisch as our special guest for our July 10 Tech Talk Tuesday. He will answer any OpenID Connect questions you may have – so get those questions ready and join us on July 10 at 9am PDT.

Here’s how to join the discussion:

Click here to get a reminder in your calendar.

On the day of the event, join on Livestream or Facebook:
»  livestream.com/layer7live
»  facebook.com/layer7

Tuesday, July 10 | 9am PDT | 12pm EDT | 5pm BST

Submit your questions:
Tweet using the tag #Layer7Live
Email techtalk@layer7.com
Check in & Chat through Facebook

May 28th, 2012

Gluecon 2012

Gluecon LogoGlue Conference, aka Gluecon, is such a refreshing event – filled with API and application developers, not a single suit in sight, demo pods, hackathons, spheros etc.

APIs are popping up everywhere and creating amazing integration possibilities. One of the coolest demos I saw at Gluecon was Ducksboard’s dashboard service, which lets you create your own monitoring dashboard using a library of widgets for existing social and Cloud providers. You can even create your own widget and have your own data pushed to it via an API endpoint created just for you, on the fly – so sexy!

Thanks to everybody who came to my presentation Making Sense of API Access Control. I hope this shed some light on how to leverage OAuth for controlling access to REST-based APIs. A lot of the new APIs I discovered this week could certainly use some help in that regard. API key authentication in HTTP basic without password has its limitations. The slides from Making Sense of API Access Control are embedded below.

May 18th, 2012

The Secret Lives of REST APIs

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Netflix APIThe recent enterprise acceptance of lightweight REST-based protocols for exposing data and application assets as APIs has been due, in large part, to the simplicity of the resulting interfaces. This simplicity means there is little barrier to entry for developers wishing to consume these APIs in applications built for mobile, Web, desktop, Cloud and gaming platforms. However, as this article from Netflix’s Daniel Jacobson reveals, simplicity can’t be the only goal when designing an API. Flexibility, scalability, optimization, orchestration and adaptation are just a few of the features required in a successful API infrastructure.

At Layer 7, our enterprise customers build incredibly elegant API platforms using our API management technology. Our solutions recognize that one size does not fit all and we provide the tools to adapt to changing requirements without re-architecting new APIs from scratch. Though we certainly support the simple “large number of known and unknown developers” use case Jacobson describes – with robust, scalable technology deployed on a wide variety of hardware, virtual, software and Cloud platforms – we can also address the specific concerns raised by the variety of devices and environments in Netflix’s ecosystem.

Message size, structure and delivery constraints due to device variation represent a large part of the problem. Layer 7 Gateways support the relevant formats and transports and can perform message transformation and protocol mediation on the fly. Policy-based configuration enables custom “virtual” APIs tailored to each device, community of developers or calling application. These format and behavioral changes can be explicit or can be triggered by user identity, app permissions, message content or transaction metadata. Even more complex mediations, such as REST exposure of internal SOAP-based assets, are simple to configure and help to reduce re-implementation costs.

Interaction models can also be optimized and tailored to the calling platform. Composition of comprehensive document-based APIs from multiple backend calls can reduce chatty client interactions. Conversely, small messages from memory-constrained devices can be aggregated into larger, less frequent backend calls. Mobile traffic can be optimized using persistent HTTP(S) connections and over-the-wire compression. And content can be cached at any level of granularity, using an in-memory cache like Terracotta, to reduce the number of calls to the application backend.

As director of one of the world’s most broadly adopted public APIs, Jacobson’s most profound observation is that “public APIs are waning in popularity and business opportunity and… the internal use case is the wave of the future.” API infrastructure needs to support everyone – open API developers, internal coders, contracted development teams and partner groups – especially as mobile workforce enablement and BYOD gain popularity. Layer 7 solutions allow enterprises to make that distinction clear through public vs. private APIs, configurable classes of service and role-based access control.

Jacobson mentions several piecemeal solutions that he and others have attempted to compile into a working platform but notes that those approaches still fall short. Providing an enterprise-grade REST API is no simple feat and it’s great that the truth of the matter is starting to come out. The benefits of a successful API strategy are numerous and well-documented. Layer 7 is the only vendor providing an API management solution that incorporates all the basic necessary functionality and much, much more.

April 9th, 2012

Big Data & API Management

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Big DataThe hottest IT trends of 2012 are shaping up to be Cloud, mobile and “big data”. The links between API management, Cloud and mobile are clear. The links between API management and big data – a concept that creates capabilities for capturing and analyzing previously unimaginable amounts of unstructured data – are less obvious but no less significant. I see two key areas of synergy…

First of all, in the three-tier architecture of the Web, the line was typically blurry between the presentation and logic tiers and concrete between logic and data. Big data now blurs the line between logic and data. Combine this with the fact that the mobile app development paradigm fragments the presentation platform and it is evident that the API will become the concrete and consistent border in application processing flows. In this context, API management will prove vital in enforcing security, collecting business metrics and normalizing protocols.

Second, big data allows analytics to be performed in the scope of real-time data retrieval. This will create another wave of real-time integration needs in enterprises of every size. More real-time integration means more APIs with higher volumes. The common protocol for exposing big data on the network is REST using either JSON or XML formats. Again, this will mean a greater necessity for API management tools and techniques and a compound benefit in their usage.

Simply put, mobile, Cloud and big data are driving a new era of enterprise IT and API management will provide amplified value for companies embracing these trends.