Click here to close now.

Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White, Adam Vincent, Roger Strukhoff

Related Topics: MICROSERVICES, Java, XML, AJAX & REA, Web 2.0, SDN Journal

MICROSERVICES: Blog Feed Post

Categorizing APIs

Quick: name some APIs! Which ones come to mind? Amazon? Twitter? Google Maps?

Quick: name some APIs! Which ones come to mind? Amazon? Twitter? Google Maps? Chances are, the APIs which came to mind are APIs which are open to any developer to use. But are these the only kinds of APIs that exist? What about Enterprise APIs?

In order to answer this question, let's look at how APIs can be categorized.

First of all, let's look at API Exposure. The two categories are:

  • External : Able to be used outside the organization.
  • Internal : Used only inside the organization

Second, let's look at API Protection. It may be one of three categories:

  • Open: Anybody can use the API, anonymously with no controls
  • Requiring Registration: Developers are identified with API Keys and usage is monitored accordingly
  • Enterprise: Goes beyond just developer registration, adding tight controls on sensitive data, integration with enterprise systems such as Identity Management and event monitoring (SIEM, Splunk, etc).

These axes are orthogonal. Using these axes, APIs divide into six categories. Let's look at the categories:

External APIs

Open External APIs
These are APIs which are open to anybody to access. Usually they take the form of read-only public data feeds.

An example is the Nobel Prize API, which allows a developer to query information about Nobel Prize winners. Another example is the Massachusetts Roadway Events API, which provides developers with access to the (many) roadworks projects happening in Massachusetts at any given moment.

External APIs requiring Registration
These are APIs which are open to any developer to use, but require registration. Once a developer registers, they typically get an API Key. It's important to note that the API Key is not necessarily used for authentication, but instead it is used for identification of the app developer. In this way, the API publisher can apply limits to the usage of their API, and track the usage also.

An example is the US Postal Service's Shipping API. Any developer can use this, but they must register first. The Google Maps API is another good example of a Managed External API. API Keys are required in order to use this API, but any developer can sign up for it. Another example is the Staples API which allows the Staples catalog to be queried. The data is not sensitive, but the developer access is controlled with API Keys.

External Enterprise APIs
These APIs are used to conduct business, or to access sensitive data such as health records. Documentation and information about the API is sometimes public, as in the case of some payments APIs. In many cases though, developer access to the API is by invitation only,  and the documentation may be private. An example is a large HMO in the US which provides an API to retrieve patient prescription information. Access to this API is tightly controlled. Another example, in the B2B space, is a large 401.K provider which allows its corporate customers to provision their new employees with 401.K plans via an API. Access to this API is also tightly controlled.

Other examples of Enterprise External APIs come from the "Internet of Things" where devices such as electricity meters transmit sensitive information via APIs, and this data must be tightly protected.

Enterprise External APIs are typically linked to other enterprise systems such as enterprise Identity Management (IdM).

Internal APIs
Just like on the Internet, lightweight REST APIs are taking over from heavyweight SOAP services inside the organization. However, SOAP and XML are still a fact of life, which means that Internal APIs typically span both XML and JSON.


Open Internal APIs
An example is a company directory API. It is open to all access.

Internal APIs requiring Registration
In some large organizations, as part of an initiative to allow internal developers to develop apps to be used by company employees, some functionality may be exposed as APIs. Access to these APIs is managed, so that developers can sign up, and usage of the APIs can be monitored. An example is an inventory lookup API, which checks the inventory of a particular item in a warehouse. This may be used to develop internal apps for personnel in the field. Internal developers sign up to use this API, get their API keys, and the API usage is monitored in order to prevent data-mining or excessive usage. However, data sensitivity itself is low.

Internal Enterprise APIs
These include APIs used to access private customer data, which may be subject to regulatory controls. Enterprise-class controls are required for these APIs. Even though its exposure is just internal to the organization, its data sensitivity is high. Remember that many privacy breaches come from inside the organization.

In the financial services sector, these include APIs to perform fund management operations such as buying and selling stock. For example, in one large Mutual Fund company, fund managers required the ability to manage their funds via iPad apps. This required access to Internal Enterprise APIs from iPads. This was delivered using tightly-controlled Internal Enterprise APIs.

In the healthcare sector, this category includes APIs which access patient data from inside hospitals and health insurer systems.

On top of simply registering developers, Internal Enterprise APIs require rules to be in place for sensitive data protection, and for a signed audit trail, to prove which user has accessed the API. Internal Enterprise APIs also must integrate with enterprise Identity Management, such as directories and single sign-on.

Conclusion
It is useful to categorize APIs into different axes, because it allows decisions to be made about how to manage them. It is a fact that the most well-known APIs are open APIs on the Internet, or APIs such as Google Maps for which any developer can obtain API Keys. However, although many people are not aware of them, Enterprise APIs are common and perform vital functions for businesses. They are exposed outside the organization and inside the organization also. By categorizing APIs, we can see their requirements clearly, and manage our APIs accordingly.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Mark O'Neill

Mark O'Neill is VP Innovation at Axway - API and Identity. Previously he was CTO and co-founder at Vordel, which was acquired by Axway. A regular speaker at industry conferences and a contributor to SOA World Magazine and Cloud Computing Journal, Mark holds a degree in mathematics and psychology from Trinity College Dublin and graduate qualifications in neural network programming from Oxford University.

@CloudExpo Stories
WSM International is launching a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. This is the first independent services company to create a dedicated practice to help organizations looking to transition to the DevOps model. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborat...
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Modern Systems announced completion of a successful project with its new Rapid Program Modernization (eavRPMa"c) software. The eavRPMa"c technology architecturally transforms legacy applications, enabling faster feature development and reducing time-to-market for critical software updates. Working with Modern Systems, the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) leveraged eavRPMa"c to transform its Student Information System from Software AG's Natural syntax to a modern application lev...
Today, IT is not just a cost center. IT is an enabler and driver of business. With the emergence of the hybrid cloud paradigm, IT now has increasingly more capabilities to create new strategic opportunities for a business. Hybrid cloud allows an organization to utilize multi-tenant public clouds, dedicated private clouds, bare metal hosting, and the associated support and services for the right use cases through an on-demand, XaaS model. This model of IT creates tremendous opportunities for busi...
Hosted PaaS providers have given independent developers and startups huge advantages in efficiency and reduced time-to-market over their more process-bound counterparts in enterprises. Software frameworks are now available that allow enterprise IT departments to provide these same advantages for developers in their own organization. In his workshop session at DevOps Summit, Troy Topnik, ActiveState’s Technical Product Manager, will show how on-prem or cloud-hosted Private PaaS can enable organ...
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed...
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a “Make or Buy” decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud busi...
Businesses are looking to empower employees and departments to do more, go faster, and streamline their processes. For all workers – but mobile workers especially – utilizing the cloud to reconnect documents and improve processes without destructing existing workflows can have a dramatic impact on productivity. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Mark Grilli, vice president of Acrobat Solutions marketing at Adobe Systems Incorporated, will outline new ways that the cloud is changing the way peo...
Sonus Networks introduced the Sonus WebRTC Services Solution, a virtualized Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) offer, purpose-built for the Cloud. The WebRTC Services Solution provides signaling from WebRTC-to-WebRTC applications and interworking from WebRTC-to-Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), delivering advanced real-time communications capabilities on mobile applications and on websites, which are accessible via a browser.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Proven by the world’s most demanding enterprises, including AAA NCNU, Constant Contact, Falck, Hootsuite, Pitney Bowes, Telekom Denmark, and VMware, Aria helps enterprises grow their recurring revenue businesses. With Aria’s end-to-end active monetization platform, g...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes ...
Are your applications getting in the way of your business strategy? It’s time to rethink your IT approach. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Madhukar Kumar, Vice President, Product Management at Liaison Technologies, will discuss a new data-centric approach to IT that allows your data, not applications, to inform business strategy. By moving away from an application-centric IT model where data integration and analysis are subservient to the constraints of applications, your organization will b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Thi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY., and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides private all-in-one social intranets allowing workers to securely collaborate from anywhere in the world and from any device. Social, mobile, and eas...
WSM International has launched a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of the organization. According to a recent press release from Gartner, "By 2016, DevOps will evolve from a niche strategy employed by large cloud ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional S...