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API Management Solution: “As a Service” vs. “Perpetual” Licensing Model

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API Management Solution: “As a Service” vs. “Perpetual” Licensing Model

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Originally authored by Guillaume Balas

API is a 3 letters acronym that you will have seen all over the Tech Blogs and Tech Media, especially during these last months. Why? Because APIs are the glue between today’s Internet applications, services and technologies. They are the key underlying piece of infrastructure for mobile apps, for enterprise software integration and B2B. APIs are currently redefining how companies develop their products and execute their business.

And just as for any other critical connectivity or integration brick, you will want to control and monitor your API to ensure QoS and SLAs. And as for any new business line you would launch, you will want to and need to define, implement and operate a business model.
3scale provides a Cloud API Management Platform & Infrastructure to achieve precisely this task: enabling developers and companies that want to securely open, control, manage, operate and eventually monetize their API to 3rd parties.
The differences between 3scale and its competitors are twofold: (1) the “as a service” vs. “perpetual” licensing and (2) the way 3scale integrates with your existing infrastructure.
3scale API-Management Licensing Integration Modes

Solutions competing with 3scale are built around a fully proprietary software component which must either be licensed and hosted within your own operational infrastructure or hosted by the API provider in the cloud and have all API traffic redirected through it.
3scale’s model on the other hand works as a set of backend cloud services that can be called from many different integration points. Integration options include software plugins integrated directly in your application, deployment within popular high performance open source proxies such as Varnish or powerful CDN architectures such as Akamai or CDNetworks.
Before opting for a proprietary proxy-based API management solution service offering, consider the implications carefully.

The Proprietary Proxy Issues

A proprietary proxy when deployed on-premise will filter traffic as it goes in and out of your corporate network and when deployed “as a service” in the cloud will funnel traffic through before it reaches your corporate network.
The on premise proprietary proxy approach has 2 major problems:

  • Cost: licensing costs for even a minimal on-premise installation begin at $10’s of thousands and often reach more commonly $100’s of thousand’s.
  • Agility/Integration: an on premise install will conflict with your existing systems for security, load balancing, etc. Additionally it involves forcing all traffic through one (or a small number) of traffic ingress points – centralizing it when actually most companies at scale:
    • Operate multiple data centers,
    • Multiple units deploy services,
    • Already have security gateways and filters in place (e.g. Vordel, IBM Data Power, Cisco Gateway).
  • Therefore you either have to buy many licenses (generating more cost) or create another unwanted front-end bottleneck.

The “as a service” proprietary proxy (aka cloud hosted gateway) approach suffers from very similar problems (minus the TCO hit you take for hosting the actual machines) and a few more since all of your API traffic would be going through a third party:

  • Added Latency
  • Bandwidth cost
  • QoS & SLA: if the third party fails your API service will fail too.
  • Security: the cloud proxy potentially has visibility on the entire API call payload, including information that is sensitive and confidential

The 3scale Advantages

At 3scale we believe you should be in full control of your API stack – and pull in extra API services exactly as, when and where you need them! No bottlenecks, no big upfront costs and no magic black boxes.
A Free Open Source Traffic Management Gateway
3scale provides the traffic management gateway itself free of charge as open source. You can deploy it locally and connect it to 3scale to provide you out-of-the-box operation: access control, analytics, monitoring, and billing/payments thus making the proxy become a commodity.
More information >>

High Performance
By routing API traffic through a proxy before getting to the source of the data, you introduce indirection. Indirections in turn increase latency.
3scale introduces no latency in that the traffic management plugin/gateway caches active policies and applies them locally.
Additionally you can deploy this cache wherever you want in you infrastructure stack, providing you with complete control over your Enterprise IT environment with no enforced bottlenecks.

Elasticity & Scalability
3scale’s Cloud API Management solution “as a service” has a unique architecture based on a set of APIs that:

  • Provides elasticity and scale on-demand
  • Makes it easy to implement without losing the ability to control your underlying infrastructure solution.

Additionally 3scale’s cloud based API Management solution on one hand removes the maintenance hassle from your company and on the other hand offers more reliability thanks to the multiple levels of failover implemented: zone, region, and network.

Return on Investment
3scale’s API Management solution is also significantly cheaper than those offered by others:

  • No initial investment
  • “Grow as you Go” Model: enabling you to “trial”, start small and grow your API business at your own pace.
  • Cheaper cost per call: 3scale only sees a management trace of your traffic

Agility, Integration
3scale enables API providers to deploy its traffic management plugin/gateway in at any location that makes sense and do this just with a software download (no long sales process or up front cost).
Finally, like Salesforce, Zendesk, Intuit or Netsuite, 3scale’s API Management architecture includes a set of APIs (Traffic, Account, Analytics and Billing Management) enabling you to create all the external facing connections you need, and keep track of operations while linking to your existing IT infrastructure such as identification systems, business intelligence, an existing web portal or a billing system.

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