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October 8, 2013

API: ‘The revolution in IT’

Mark O’Neill VP of innovation at Axway talks to CBR about Axway API management embracing cloud, mobile, social media and the Internet of Things.

By Claire Vanner

As VP of innovation for Axway, Mark O’Neill provides API management and security advice and information to both customers and partners of Axway. The company is working the organisations who are utilising APIs, including large banks, government telcos and other organisations leveraging the web for inspiration.

Since Axway’s acquisition of Vordel, it has integrated Vordel’s API management with the rest of its offering. The full suite, Axway 5, provides API management and B2B products, file managers, email security and file sharing to facilitate integration between businesses.

Q: What was Axway’s entry into API management?

A: "Axway acquired Vordel at the end of 2012 as the first of its acquisitions in the API management area. Axway has a DNA of security with many security products in its portfolio and integration in general. Axway already had deep support for many B2B protocols, so entry into API market was very natural for Axway as it complemented what it already had. Many of Axway’s customers, especially in B2B, banking and government are moving to using APIs also, so it is natural for them to look to Axway as a trusted vendor to provide API management as well.

"So API has been included in the Axway 5 suite, into what we call governing the flow of data: different protocols for data coming in and out of the organisation, and that includes API. So rather than seeing API as something managed completely separately, it is managed side-by-side with other protocol. That’s something that’s unique about Axway, whereas other vendors may only do one or two of those things."


Q: What companies are you working with to help them implement API?

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"Customers are really spread across the board in a move to the API economy. For example, if a business is in the supply chain area, they can deploy and API so that people can write apps to track the status of shipment. It is also used in government; there are APIs to integrate between government departments now. And in global telecoms, a lot of the billing is done also with APIs. There isn’t any particular industry sector that is ahead in APIs: it’s almost a revolution in IT at the moment.

"I think for Axway, we talk about enterprise API so our focus is on organisations with APIs who require security for those APIs because it is private data, for example healthcare information. That is particularly where Axway provides a lot of benefits to its customers when regarding enterprise APIs."


Q: How are Axway embracing cloud, social and mobile technology integration?

A: "The key thing about web APIs is they are more lightweight than the kinds of integration that went before, particularly for mobile, it simply means less data being transmitted, so its easier to get a faster and more responsive experience from the apps.

"I think it’s almost become de facto that organisations can deploy services, and that includes cloud-based organisations, such as cloud storage, cloud log-in where you want to enable login through Google and Facebook through your app, all of that is done with APIs. The reason for it is the lightweight nature of the traffic and it is quite intuitive and straight-forward for developers rather than having to learn whole new integration technologies."


Q: How is Axway enabling companies to build and deploy cloud applications more quickly?

A: "For organisations who want to deploy their services as cloud services, they are going to have to make a decision whether they want to build out the security, the monitoring, the audit trail themselves, or if they want to get an off-the-shelf product that will provide them with all of this. So at Axway, we provide them with all of this within our off-the-shelf products that supply comprehensive API management and apply service level agreements to them as well. By leveraging the Axway products for this, they can get up and running much more quickly than if they were to build all of this themselves."


Q: How can Axway customers promote the user engagement once they are up and running?

A: "With APIs, you can’t expect to be a case of: ‘if we build it, they will come’. So organizations that have an API need to make sure that developers are using that API – it is no good if there are no mobile apps that are actually using it. In the spirit of APIs being quite easy to use, there is the concept of the API developer portal.

"The developer portal is a web portal where developers go, sign up and get all the information they need to know. This helps the self-service aspect to the APIs where developers can find the information they need, register applications, get APIs keys and it promotes the user engagement, and I think that’s a key part of API development: the portal provided by Axway."


Q: What security do Axway provide on the cloud?

A: Axway has a deep background in security encryption and protocols, so with APIs we also bring that there. Security for APIs involved protecting the clouds from attack, but it also involves applying identity management to the API so you know who’s using them and how they’re using them and if they are doing so in an appropriate way.

"It goes across the spectrum of protecting them from misuse, Denial of Service for example, which we’ve seen a lot of this year, especially with banks, and also to apply identity to it so you know who is using the API and you keep that information on an auto-trail. That’s particularly important if you have private data involved, especially in healthcare, for example, for privacy reasons."


Q: Why do you think Axway has been placed as a leader in the Magic Quadrant?

A: "Axway has been positioned as the leader in two Magic Quadrants. The first one is Application Services Governance – this is a term from Gartner to talk about API management and solar governance. I think we’re a leader because we’re pretty strong in both. There are some organizations that only do API management and some that only do solar governance. In the case of Axway we provide both and we also have customers who have been doing both for quite some time now.

"The other is the Application Integration Magic Quadrant: that is on premise application integration that is where you are linking applications together, including APIs, using various protocols, and that is also somewhere where the breadth of different things Axway supports that we are viewed as a leader in that Quadrant."


Q: How are APIs enabling the Internet of Things?

A: "The Internet of Things is really starting to take off now. In Axway we have customers, particularly in the energy sector who use smart metres that connect back to the energy provider to give them information about energy uses, data in the home, and that enables the consumer to track their energy usage and the pricing, giving them more control. The so called connected-car is also evolving where the car transmits information via APIs to alert when the car needs maintenance and can also integrate profiles, such as social media. So we are certainly moving towards seeing customers use APIs for the Internet of Things.

"APIs are ubiquitous for integration, so at the moment APIs are mostly associated with mobile and cloud, but going forward just as much traffic will be coming from smart metres, cars and other Internet of Things devices."

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