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Oracle API Platform Cloud Service - Blog Series - Post # 1

Vivek Acharya
Consulting Technical Manager

This post if one in the series of posts to-be published on Oracle API Platform Cloud Service. In this article, we will focus on -

  • API Marketplace,
  • API Platform,
  • Oracle’s API Platform,
  • Oracle API PCS and
  • Stakeholders,
  • Extend Enterprise API Ecosystem,
  • Oracle’s API PCS architecture and
  • Oracle API PCS In-Concert with other Oracle Products

To starts with, let’s define an API. Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of routine definitions, protocols and tools for building software and applications and allows ease to develop programs by providing all the building blocks while abstracting the underlying implementation and only exposing objects/actions that developers needs.

  • Endpoint – Endpoints have addresses and for REST service endpoints, they look like URLs.
  • Service – Service is a task that an API defines and it's behind the endpoint.
  • Interface – Interaction point and it hides the implementation definition of the service the API will perform.

The API definition identifies the address (endpoint), where the target service can be invoked. Services do something useful for a client and finally API enforces an interface or a contract between a client (web-page or mobile app) and the service. Rules to access the endpoint are prescribed by the interface. An interface definition makes it clear that what’s expected and what will be as a result of the API call.

Note – APIs are doors to the digital world.

The digital world of cloud based infrastructure, mobile app, social sites and online shopping are all proliferating. APIs increase the connectivity to these digital worlds. APIs are the doors to the modern digital world as they open up the backend system capabilities to partner integrations and mobile applications. APIs allows customer to build eco-systems to encourage partners to utilize and extend customers backend services. This enhances the customer’s reach out to the digital world. It opens up new revenue streams.

API Marketplace

We talk about APIs, now let’s check the role of API marketplace and API platform. API Marketplace has great strategic values as APIs allows organizations to grow their business quickly by sharing services with other organizations and firms. It's about nurturing and building an API ecosystem to leverage automated services with business partners.

Example of an Organization “A” can share its photo printing APIs via developer’s portal to allow access to their printing APIs. Other company “B” can use these APIs and can build mobile apps to print photos from phone without uploading it to desktop computers.. Company “B” allows uses from various social platforms to print via it's apps and now Organization “A” is getting printing business via Organization “B”‘s customers. Ebay, Google, IBM, Salesforce.com and various other companies are participating in API Economy by sharing their API to allow other companies to use these APIs and it also helps them to generate revenues.

Traditionally APIs where used behind firewall and primary focus by service discovery and re-usability while in IT department. Now, in the API Economy era, APIs have become externalize. Digital assets are exposed to digital world via APIs. It's an initiative way for organizations to collaborate and exchange information and services with partners.  This broadens the ecosystem and will increase the revenues many-fold. Example – an airline company uses Uber APIs to allow customers from their application to book Uber. This will offer Airline Company’s customer to schedule Uber rides that fits his/her travel. Uber will in-turn allows airline apps to access their services to allow airline customers schedule and book Uber. This benefits both business partners and ads to their revenues. What’s needed to participate in API economy – off-course the answer is an API Platform.

API Platform

API platform allows hosting and managing APIs and making it easy for stakeholders to build and integrate new and existing applications respectively and also allows develop mobile and IoT applications. API economy is not focus on a specify vertical and it goes horizontal across all vertical industry and various business and sectors can use API platform to participate in the new era digital world.

Who can participate and How?

Following are the different stakeholders in the API economy -

  • Business - Business development evangelizes value of API and initiates its entry into digital world, while Line of Business can find the key area to collaborate with partners to use the APIs. Once the APIs are developed and exposed to business partners, business development team can monitor the - performance, reach, value and effectiveness of the APIs. Business will love to know, who uses the APIs and how much they use it. LOBs are looking for the business to-be nimble and agile and faster time to market and low IT dependency. Oracle's API PCS allows monitoring of APIs quite easy and addresses LOBs business needs.
  • Technical Leadership - Technical leadership will define the architecture & standards, procure API management software, works with partners to define and develop those APIs, establish SLAs agreements and monitor technical performance of APIs.  Technical leadership comprising of CIO, IT Managers and enterprise architects are looking for solutions to implement LOBs desire of participating in digital era and extend their business yet minimize the startup cost to implement this. You can address all these though Oracle API PCS.
  • Developers - Developers will develop APIs and monitor its throughput and performance. They are concerned about ease of developing, creating, publishing, sharing and tracking APIs and Oracle’s API PCS addresses these concerned very well.

Oracle’s API Platform

Organization’s initiative of LOB, Technical leadership requires a world class API Management Platform and Oracle API PCS is the go-to-product. Following diagram shows the key features of Oracle’s API Platform Cloud Service (API PCS)

Key features of API PCS are -

Lifecycle Management - Publish, Monitor and Retire APIs – Once a developer define and implement an API, API PCS will support the life cycle of the API this includes publishing the API interface to the developer’s portal so that developers can register those APIs. API PCS users can track resource consumption and follow rates. If an API is to-be discontinued the platform can retire it and prevent further access.

  • Operations - Once the APIs is published, the platform can be used to manage and monitor their access.
  • Security – API PCS offers the full range of security policy to protect API access.
  • Community Management – Managers the consumer of APIs

Oracle API PCS Platform and Stakeholders

This section illustrates Oracle API PCS platform and the expectation of various stakeholders out of it. Let’s start with the developers and address their concerns first -

  • Developers – API platform need to serve developers from both the end – producer developers and consumer developers. Producer developers are looking for platform which allows ease of development and publishing APIs using rich developer portals and to monitor it. Similarly consumer developers are looking for a convenient way to discover and use APIs which are published on the producer’s portal. They also need this platform to help them understand the APIs reliability, SLA, availability and performance.
  • Technical Leadership – They want to reduce time and efforts to setup environments for developers to work-on and are looking for a platform which also offers reduced maintenance and ease in patching, cloning, backup and scaling.
  • Business Leadership – They are looking to open new business avenue and to participate in digital economy by creating new and strategic apps. Oracle API PCS allows business to be effective and allows ease of API adoption.

What’s the Urgency?

There is a great urgency in organizations to move towards, cloud, mobile and IoT, which is in-turn increasing the urgency for integrations. Urgency to deliver quality solutions in lowest time is intense which further makes integration paramount. API PCS can be integration solutions to help IT and business to meet the integration demand which Cloud, Mobile and IoT has generated.

API PCS is a result of evolution in integration. Customers started with using SOA and ICS to integrate Oracle Applications, Legacy applications and Custom applications deployed on-premise and cloud. Now they want their applications extended to mobile applications and devices and allow them to monetize by allowing access to some of their key services. Enterprise are now looking to extend their services and build an ecosystem where there partners can leverage their internal back-end system and data.

API PCS offers an API Management system that empowers partner ecosystem to leverage APIs that works with integration systems which results in modern applications which opens new revenue stream for the enterprises.

Extend Enterprise API Ecosystem

This section will focus on how enterprise can extend their digital reach by partner ecosystem. Following diagram try to shows address the “how”. Customer’s typically have SOA platform that host many reusable services. If the customer has added APIs to its strategic tier, they will have layer of APIs that exposes their services in the SOA platform. They would have used APIs to build applications that meet their business needs. Now customers can use API gateway technology (API Gateway covered in subsequent section) to securely expose the APIs outside firewalls so that partners can utilize the SOA platform services and new applications they build. Partners can also use these published APIs to integrate their systems with customer’s system through customer’s exposed SOA services. These partner integration apps, can use some of partners own APIs to access their back-end system to create new services. These new partner services then use the APIs to inter-operate with the customer services. You can even add customer’s to this API ecosystem to act as consumers of the APIs.

Oracle API PCS Architecture

This section introduces Oracle API PCS architecture and API gateways.

 

Oracle API PCS serves the purpose of all the different stakeholders and persons involved. API manager, implementers and administrators can use the browsers based manager portal to build, manage APIs. API consumers can use browser based consumer portals to discover and use exposed APIs. API designer can use Apiary cloud service to provide rich API documents to surface on developer’s portal.

Below table shows the Persona included -

Persona

Tool

Task

API Manager /

API Implementers /

Gateway Administrators

Browser Based Manager Portal

Use Manager portal to interact with API PCS Management service (API PCS Management Service runs on Oracle Cloud)

API Consumer

Browser Based Consumer Portal

Use Consumer portal to find published APIs

API Designer

Brower based tool for API Cloud Service – Apiary

Uses Apiary Cloud Service to provide API documentation that surface on developer’s portal, so API consumers can understand the interfaces to APIs.

 

Gateways – Architecture diagram clearly shows that Gateways are separate from the management service however the Gateway communicates periodically with the management service in order to learn about new APIs, policy changes and to exchange matrix about the service requests. Function of Gateways –

  • Receives API requests from applications,
  • Responsible to enforce policies and
  • Pass requests to backend services
  • Response back to calling applications - Response from backend service is passed back as response from backend service to calling application through the gateway
  • Manages and Enforce Security – Gateways are responsible to enforce security. As the architecture diagram shows, gateways are deployed inside the firewall and behind load balancers. These gateways enforce the security policies that API PCS users define.
  • Ensure APIs are made available to the user applications by posting their definitions and security policies to the gateways.

Note –

  • API Gateways is the only way for client applications to access the APIs.
  • Gateway can be deployed anywhere including Oracle cloud, on any other cloud and also on-premise.

Oracle API PCS In-Concert with other Oracle Products

Customers have integration products like ICS and SOA suite (on-premises or SOA CS) to build new services. ICS allows LOB and citizen integrations to quickly integrate two applications and enterprises can use SOA/SOA CS for more challenging and complex integrations. API PCS allows you to expose APIs that leverage integrations which are created using ICS/SOA-On-Premise/SOA CS. API Platform Cloud service can manage and monitor these APIs. Customers can use Process cloud service and easily combine workflow applications with APIs. In conclusion, build services and integrate those using ICS, SOA (On-Premise) or SOA CS and expose via APIs using API PCS and further build new workflow process and use APIs with them.

Conclusion - Economy of the data transactions that are empowered by APIs is the API Economy. Welcome to API Economy and be successful in it with Oracle PCS. Stay tunes for more technical articles on Oracle’s API Platform Cloud Service. We will be covering technical details and demos in this series on Oracle API Platform Cloud Service.

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Comments ( 1 )
  • Josh Chacona Friday, April 13, 2018
    Great article! Thank you.
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