The Importance of API Management to Hybrid Clouds
APIs are the conduit that makes data available to partners, customers, and other external sources while also securing the organization's sensitive information.
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API management is serious business. The consequences of bad API management can be dire. In a February 27, 2015, post on the Expert Integrated Systems blog, IBM's Claudio Tagliabue cites the example of Moonpig, a UK-based service whose vulnerable API exposed its customers' credit card information and other sensitive data. Paul Price explains the vulnerability in a January 5, 2015, post.
Tagliabue compares good API practices to software-oriented architecture principles: data consistency, performance, and granularity. Hybrid cloud services depend on APIs — particularly RESTful APIs — to expose select assets of the business to the public and to place private assets behind a firewall.
Rob Zazueta, who works for API management service Mashery, identifies three "pillars" of API management: security, scalability, and support. Zazueta is quoted by Forbes' Adrian Bridgwater in a February 12, 2015, article.
In terms of security, use of the OAuth standard for controlling access makes things simpler for developers. The API must also support throttling to control the flow of traffic through the backend and caching to ensure fast response to the most common requests. In terms of support, Zazueta claims the best thing you can do for developers is allow them to request the access they need to a controlled set of data directly via a developer portal.
APIs are making middle managers an endangered species.
When a company has few employees, it stands to reason it has fewer managers. When that company is Uber, there's little need for any middle management. ProgrammableWeb Editor in Chief David Berlind posits in a February 4, 2015, article that APIs are removing the bottom rung on the corporate ladder leading from the front line to management. Berlind is responding to an earlier post by Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt on the use of APIs by contractors for such services as Uber, Lyft, 99designs Tasks, and HomeJoy.
The contractors are managed by the APIs, and the services are driven to minimize the cost of executing the API methods. Reinhardt expects API integration to continue, resulting in the automation of such human endeavors as flipping a house by combining Redfin's API to buy a house and a Zirtual assistant to manage the house's renovation.
APIs are also key to extending data centers to the cloud. Data Center Knowledge's Bill Kleyman writes in a March 2, 2015, article that APIs are integrated with data center management consoles. For example, the Neutron networking component of OpenStack Havana integrates directly with OpenFlow to enhance multi-tenancy and cloud scaling.
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