Layer 7 Solves the Mobile Enterprise App Challenge

From the two sides of the globe, CA Technologies -- owner of the Layer 7 API Management Suite -- has announced new API services aimed at providing developers and enterprises with a full mobile suite Platform. At DeveloperWeek in San Francisco, Dana Crane, senior product manager at CA Technologies, launched the General Availability of the API Portal; at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Dimitri Sirota, Layer 7 cofounder, talked to ProgrammableWeb about the launch of the API Gateway.

"We have had these products available for some time, but we are now making them General Availability and launching them as an enterprise mobile cloud suite of services," Sirota told ProgrammableWeb on the eve of the announcement at Mobile World Congress.

"The mobile suite platform includes an API Portal for developers to discover APIs that are available and an API Gateway that will manage access to data centers," said Sirota.

"Most organizations are moving to multiple apps, but, in many cases, each app may need multiple databases -- it's like access to a mashup. So for any apps that an enterprise is building, the API Portal provides a facility for a central registry, with quick access to code and APIs to speed the development process, similar to a registry of atomic building blocks.

"Then, the API Gateway can pull information from the cloud and internal enterprise databases and put that into a format that can be consumed by an app. The API Gateway then layers in all the security that can address employee app security and help enterprises deal with securing data on employee devices and apps."

At DeveloperWeek, Crane provided a demonstration and launch of the new API Portal, focused on supporting developers, particularly those who are internal and enterprise based.

“The new API Portal adds critical API grouping and package capabilities and enables publishing directly from the API Portal using predefined policies that our customers can tailor to their needs,” said Crane. “With the API Portal, it is now simple for an organization to create a branded interface for developers. This allows them to access all the design-time resources needed to quickly discover and understand an API and then create an application and track its usage.”

Sirota sees three main customers of both the API Portal and API Gateway services.

"Historically, we have sold to enterprise architects who are interested in providing a centralized clearinghouse as a self-register for their in-house developers. But we are now finding other roles within the enterprise that are interested.

"Second, there are the security folks who deal with identity access and management. They are interested in the ways our infrastructure can support identifying and managing permissions to access data and API functions.

"Our third constituency is the DevOps app delivery folks. The development manager is thinking about innovation as well as speed and time to iteration, and they are seeing the API portal as a faster way to help developers access codes."

Sirota notes the need for solutions to manage the "bifurcated role" of enterprise mobile app platforms: "There are the design-time obstacles around how developers discover and identify APIs they can use in their apps, and there is the one-time issue of Integration functionality of APIs into a mobile enterprise app. The API Portal solves the build-time challenge: It looks at how developers are supported to use APIs to build a hybrid app. The API Gateway solves the run-time challenge. It is an integration role that uses the APIs as a window to the data."

In addition, the API Portal and API Gateway make up two components of Layer 7's newly released Mobile DevOps Suite, also launched at Mobile World Congress.

By Mark Boyd. Mark is a freelance writer focusing on how we use technology to connect and interact. He writes regularly about API business models, open data, smart cities, Quantified Self, and e-commerce. He can be contacted via e-mail, on Twitter, or on Google+.

Be sure to read the next Enterprise article: Is Building an Enterprise MBaas Platform for IoT