Leveraging Clouds to Delivery High Performance APIs

Pragnesh Panchal

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Mark Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, once quipped that software is eating the world. When you consider the growing number of business, collaboration and other functions either controlled, managed, or facilitated by software, it’s not terribly difficult to grasp his meaning. Consider also the increasing numbers of enterprises using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to expose internal business logic and information securely to third-party developers, partners and mobile device- and application-enabled customers. And, APIs can be a significant source of revenue ̶ according to the Harvard Business Review, Salesforce generates 50% of its revenue through API’s, Expedia a whopping 90%. APIs have now become the de facto foundation of the digital economy, or sometimes simply referred as API Economy.

At the next level, API Exchanges from Apigee, Mashery (recently acquired by TIBCO) and others provide an infrastructure where different organizations’ APIs can even interoperate with each other to create composite services. The resultant mashup achieves software functionality and information greater than the sum of its parts, much like a swarm of bees producing honey.

Recently, cloud providers have caught on to the API craze, with cloud titans Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure announcing their own API Gateway cloud services that enterprises can leverage to expose functionality of their AWS- and Azure- hosted applications and information. API gateways act as the enterprise entry point that routes requests to the right service APIs.

A Powerful Combo – API Gateways and Interconnection Oriented Architecture™

Whether exposing APIs to partners, customers or other employees, performance is essential to a viable user experience. Unfortunately, performance can be hard to come by for thousands or millions of highly mobile, globally dispersed users on a variety of devices, especially if large volumes of information have to be transmitted over long distances. When it comes to global connections, latency becomes a big challenge, and low latency can really only be achieved by proximity between source and destination points.

Add in the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon and performance becomes even more critical and challenging. A perfect example is General Electric’s (GE) use of IoT sensor information to enable preventive maintenance of its jet engines. Thousands of these GE engine sensors may transmit terabytes of operational data, destined for APIs and analytics platforms meant to consume, analyze and harness the information in near-real-time for predictive maintenance.

An Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ can offer the proximity, bandwidth and low latency necessary to achieve superior performance in several ways:

  • Globally distributed interconnection centers, such as those of Equinix, serve as proximate entry points for API access by local mobile users, IoT sensors or other applications. Once past the entry point, dedicated, direct, high-speed connections among dense ecosystems of colocated partners, cloud services and network provider peering points provide the performance, agility, low latency and security organizations need to enable a viable user experience or near real time data consumption, transformations and analytics over data lakes.
  • Enterprises can house their own API gateway infrastructure at an Equinix global data center, which then routes requests to the enterprise’s own services hosted in private / public / hybrid or multi-cloud over secure, high speed direct connections via the Equinix Cloud Exchange. Network and cloud provider choice ensures optimal performance at a reasonable cost. As an example a refrigerator or jet engine in Australia can transmit data locally at high speed to an interconnection center in Sydney, where it is stored, consumed and analyzed by local enterprise or cloud services in real time.

The Cloud Exchange offers its own API for fast setup and dedicated, switched interconnections to any of hundreds of colocated cloud providers through a single network port. It can be also be used by enterprises to take advantage of multiple cloud service API gateways, including AWS and Microsoft Azure’s, to achieve high availability and cost control.

Software may be eating the world, but an Interconnection Oriented Architecture enables rapid digestion without user indigestion.