CIO’s are being asked more and more to consider being a profit center or at least to reuse the assets they have to reduce costs. They are also being asked to be more agile and to deliver products faster. Some CIOs are being asked to be more entrepreneurial, to facilitate people trying new ideas at low cost. The reasons for this are the disruptive changes happening in technology and business around BigData, Cloud, Mobile, Social and APIs. More and more companies are making substantial revenues from API’s or mobile apps for instance. If not moving to being a profit center CIOs are being asked to drive new business or keeping existing business by being more agile and delivering a connected business. I call this technology renewal “Enterprise Refactoring.”
The central way to do this is to turn the existing services in your organization into reusable entities that can be leveraged by new products, outside organizations, partners or even internal projects. Sometimes people are told the way to do this is to implement API Management or implement PaaS. API Management gives you several things that your organization needs to segment, account and enable reuse of enterprise services so that you can increase usage and charge for services you currently provide for free. IaaS gives you tools to leverage infrastructure as a service and to segment, account and enable reuse of enterprise hardware infrastructure. PaaS gives you this ability at the Application level to do the same things. These things all fit together conceptually, but making them fit together in reality is not something the industry has accomplished but it is where WSO2 is going and has done to some extent. Let’s start at the bottom and understand what goes into the tools for making APIs a profit center or encouraging their reuse.
I will disclose that API Management by itself is not the complete answer to getting reusable APIs. It is a basic building block and incorporates a number of needed pieces to give you the flexibility and accountability you need to start to leverage your existing services better. A later blog will address the larger problem of reuse in general. API Management has 3 basic types of users and user stories that go along with them that provide value to that role.
1) The Publisher:
a) Allow you to publish APIs and to iterate your APIs rapidly to meet demand of customers
b) Account for usage of your services and be able to bill and account and manage the growth of demand for the services
c) Tailoring the usage tiers so that you can offer different QOS or performance to different users at different price points or different roles
d) Tools to learn about usage so that you can move your products forward intelligently based on demands you see in the market
e) Security to guarentee that customers only see the information they are entitled to see
f) Tools to enable you to customize the experience that the community of subscribers gets
2) The Subscriber
a) A customizable “store” they can search to find resources to solve problems and the information they need to use the service.
b) A social environment that they can learn about where the services are going, interact with them and influence the future of those services, inform others of the pitfalls, best use cases, examples, tricks and just generally learn what OTHERS think of the services
c) Tools to help you use the services easily
d) Support for when problems happen with the services
e) A place to manage their subscriptions, to understand their usage and cost
3) The Gateway
a) Deliver the services, secure them, scale them as needed to meet demand, collect information on usage patterns and information needed to account and/or bill users of the services
API Management gives you the infrastructure you need to offer API services. This can be inside the corporation to groups within the company or to outside groups. These services can be used by mobile apps, web apps or other services. API Management allows you to share these assets scalably and to bill but it doesn’t guarantee their success.
The same exact things can be expected for a IaaS to provide basics you need to monetize infrastructure and PaaS to provide the basics you need to monetize application and development environments. The last piece is mobile which is a platform to deliver and manage mobile applications.
WSO2 has all these pieces integrated and provides a platform you can implement these in pieces or in combination to renew your enterprise architecture and to implement a profit center capability to your infrastructure, applications, data, web services, APIs, mobile applications.
Those tools provide you the basics. The next blog will describe what the “basics” doesn’t give you and what you need to do in your company to implement successful reuse and renewal of technology.