Wednesday, 01 July 2020 22:06

API lifecycle product means you can give data to the public and be secure too, says Software AG

Interview Ian Ward - DevOps Solution Architect at Software AG

International software company, Software AG, has been helping companies innovate through leveraging the power of their data for over 50 years. It has put this depth of experience to the fore in helping companies expose data safely through its webMethods API management product.

Software AG was one of the first software companies in the world and still sees its mainframe 4GL database product, Adabas, in use to this day.

Yet, the world has changed in 50 years, technology has changed and customers have changed. Software AG has evolved and incorporated many different products into its portfolio including integration, API management, business process management, IT portfolio management, Internet of Things (IoT), and more, with the world looking at how to make use of devices and data and how to enhance business and reach.

This includes webMethods AppMesh, released last month, to monitor and govern microservices as applications. This is an example of Software AG’s evolutionary journey, webMethods first coming to life about 20 years ago as a business-to-business (B2B) gateway, explains Ian Ward, the DevOps, Integration & API Lead, Australia & New Zealand for Software AG.

"webMethods allowed organisations to exchange standard documents like billing, delivery notes, and so on. It still does, but today it is a general-purpose integration platform, and more recently, an API management platform,” he said.

It is this API component which is a real game-changer, turning webMethods from a B2B integration and electronic document interchange gateway into a platform enabling any software developer or data provider to expose data to third parties whomever they may be in a secure and manageable way.

These third parties can be trading partners for business but with the rise of smartphones and mobility “APIs began to play a big part,” Ward says. “They expose information previously securely held and make it available in easily consumed ways, allowing people to use it on mobile devices all the way to consumers. For example, Governments expose data to citizens via APIs to use as they like, and for others to create new and exciting apps and combine data from different organisations through no connection with the original provider. You could connect financial data from banks with weather patterns, for example,” he said.

Ward sees two critical aspects to a solid API management platform like webMethods. The first is to create and expose data in a standard way, allowing apps to connect quickly, but with security, reliability and even usage tracking built-in. The second is to offer microservices within an organisation so developers can work with data and services from other developers inside the organisation, in a standard way that doesn’t stop them releasing every day.

Ward believes it is this latter component which webMethods AppMesh provides and is, "Going to be a really exciting sought-after capability.” 

Notable webMethods customers include the UK Army who put the product through intense penetration testing prior to adoption, and locally, Linfox, the largest privately-owned supply chain and logistics company in Asia Pacific, and a household name in Australia.

"Linfox went through a complete analysis of the market - not just the API market but B2B integration and management and robotic process automation too. After their analysis, Linfox rated Software AG as providing the best overall solution, the single place where you could do all those things, and IoT too. They analysed everyone in the market, had eight top vendors, and chose us,” Ward says.

webMethods is available today as a SaaS offering with a free trial from Software AG's website. It comes in three pricing tiers through basic, advanced and enterprise based on traffic.

Ward explains, "With no significant up-front cost and with a fast development time to implement APIs it is possible to get up-and-running and getting value very quickly.” 

Ward offers API developers two tips for best results.

"When designing and implementing APIs it's easy to take the information you have and expose it and not think about how it is going to be used. Because other organisations and developers must write applications that suck in your data it is very important to understand how they will use their data and make it easy for them. You run the risk developers will move on if they cannot make it work easily. Think about how you want the data to be used and think about your consumer,” he says.

Secondly, "there can be a tendency to create APIs and say, "There you go," only to find the data doesn't get used much. It’s important to engage with developers and provide documentation for your APIs,” Ward says.

To facilitate this Software AG provides a community for API developers and users alike, the API Engagement Platform. This provides a searchable catalogue of APIs and allows developers to interact and participate in hackathons.


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