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API Plugin News

These are the news items I've curated in my monitoring of the API space that have some relevance to the API plugin conversation and I wanted to include in my research. I'm using all of these links to better understand how the space is testing their APIs, going beyond just monitoring and understand the details of each request and response.

Making Connections At The API Management Layer

</pI've been evaluating API management providers, and this important stop along the API lifecycle in which they serve for eight years now. It is a space that I'm very familiar with, and have enjoyed watching it mature, evolve, and become something that is more standardized, and lately more commoditized. I've enjoyed watching the old guard (3Scale, Apigee, and Mashery) be acquired, and API management be baked into the cloud with AWS, Azure, and Google. I've also had fun learning about Kong, Tyk, and the next generation API management providers as they grow and evolve, as well as some of the older players like Axway as they work to retool so that they can compete and even lead the charge in the current environment. I am renewing efforts to study what each of the API management solutions provide, pushing forward my ongoing API management research, understanding what the current capacity of the active providers are, and potentially they are pushing forward the conversation. One of the things I'm extremely interested in learning more about is the connector, plugin, and extensibility opportunities that exist with each solution. Functionality that allows other 3rd party API service providers to inject their valuable services into the management layer of APIs, bringing other stops along the API lifecycle into management layer, allowing API providers to do more than just what their API management solution delivers. Turning the API management layer into much more than just authentication, service plan management, logging, analytics, and billing. Over the last year I've been working with [API security provider ElasticBeam](https://www.elasticbeam.com/) to help make sense of what is possible at the API management layer when it comes to securing our APIs. ElasticBeam can analyze the surface area of an API, as well as the DNS, web, API management, web server, and database logs for potential threats, and apply their machine learning models in real time. Without direct access at the API management layer, ElasticBeam is still valuable but cannot respond in real-time to threats, shutting down keys, blocking request, and other threats being leveraged against our API infrastructure. Sure, you can still respond after the fact based upon what ElasticBeam learns from scanning all of your logs, but without being able to connect directly into your API management layer, the effectiveness of their security solution is significantly diminished. Complimenting, but also contrasting ElasticBeam, I'm also working with [Streamdata.io](http://streamdata.io) to help understand how they can be injected at the API management layer, adding an event-driven architectural layer to any existing API. The first part of this would involve turning high volume APIs into real time streams using Server-Sent Events (SSE). With future advancements focused on topical streaming, webhooks, and WebSub enhancements to transform simple request and response APIs into event-driven streams of information that only push what has changed to subscribers. Like ElasticBeam, Streamdata.io would benefit being directly baked into the API management layer as a connector or plugin, augmenting the API management layer with a next generation event-driven layer that would compliment what any API management solution brings to the table. Without an extensible connector or plugin layer at the API management layer you can't inject additional services like security with ElasticBeam, or event-driven architecture like Streamdata.io. I'm going to be looking for this type of extensibility as I profile the features of all of the active API management providers. I'm looking to understand the core features each API management provider brings to the table, but I'm also looking to understand how modern these API management solutions are when it comes to seamlessly working with other stops along the API lifecycle, and specifically how these other stops can be serviced by other 3rd party providers. Similar to my regular rants about API service providers always having APIs, you are going to hear me rant more about API service providers needing to have connector, plugin, and other extensibility features. API management service providers can put their APIs to work driving this connector and plugin infrastructure, but it should allow for more seamless interaction and benefits for their customers, that are brought to the table by their most trusted partners.


The Open Service Broker API

Jerome Louvel from Restlet introduced me to the Open Service Broker API the other day, a “project allows developers, ISVs, and SaaS vendors a single, simple, and elegant way to deliver services to applications running within cloud-native platforms such as Cloud Foundry, OpenShift, and Kubernetes. The project includes individuals from Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Pivotal, RedHat and SAP.”

Honestly, I only have so much cognitive capacity to understand everything I come across, so I pasted the link into my super secret Slack group for API super heroes to get additional opinions. My friend James Higginbotham (@launchany) quickly responded with, “if I understand correctly, this is a standard that would be equiv to Heroku’s Add-On API? Or am I misunderstanding? The Open Service Broker API is a clean abstraction that allows ‘services’ to expose a catalog of capabilities, as well as the ability to create, use and delete those services. Sounds like add-on support to me, but I could be wrong[…]But seems very much like vendor-to-vendor. Will be interesting to track.”

At first glance, I thought it was more of an aggregation and/or discovery solution, but I think James is right. It is an API scaffolding that SaaS platforms can plug into their platforms to broker other 3rd party API services. It allows any platform to offer an environment for extending your platform like Heroku does, as James points out. It is something that adds an API discovery dimension to the concept of offering up plugins, or I guess what could be an embedded API marketplace within your platform. Opening up wholesale and private label opportunities for API providers to sell their warez directly on other people’s platforms.

The concept really isn’t anything new. I remember developing document print plugins for Box back when I worked with the Mimeo print API in 2011. The Open Service Broker API is just looking to standardize this approach so hat API provider could bake in a set of 3rd party partner APIs directly into their platform. I’ve recently added a plugin area to my API research. I will add the Open Service Broker API as an organization within this research. I’m probably also going to add it to my API discovery research, and I’m even considering expanding it into an API marketplace section of my research. I can see add-on, plugin, marketplace, and API brokering like this grow into its own discipline, with a growing number of definitions, services, and tools to support.


If you think there is a link I should have listed here feel free to tweet it at me, or submit as a Github issue. Even though I do this full time, I'm still a one person show, and I miss quite a bit, and depend on my network to help me know what is going on.