Bridging the gap between Microsoft investment and other platforms

20 April 2021 | 65 Shares

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Figures estimating that over 80 percent of web traffic comprises of API calls might lead readers to conclude that it’s pretty much irrelevant which platform applications and services are built on.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the headline grabbing figure of 83%, quoted in 2019 by Akamai is very much influenced by the prevalence of streaming services. Nevertheless, no one inside the industry could dispute APIs’ importance in keeping the wheels of commerce turning — and most of the internet working, too.

Platform specificity is still important for businesses today. The enmities of old between the Microsoft camp and those in the Linux or BSD camps (and even the odd AIX stalwart) have lessened in recent years: Microsoft <hearts> Linux as we know — but there are still plenty of reasons why companies might want a platform-native API solution.

In this series of articles, we’ll examine what those reasons are and why they’re still relevant. We’ll also look at solutions in the API space where cross-platform compatibility has to exist, but with specific emphasis on bridging from the Windows stack to everything else.

Happy X-platform (War is Over)

If we again alter our gaze to the outsider’s point of view, the different public cloud providers seem to be offering pretty much the same services as one another. That’s a good thing for many enterprises’ bottom lines, thanks to (theoretical) cross-platform compatibility and healthy pricing competition.

When looked at in more detail, there are some differences between the big cloud providers’ offerings that have a definite impact on choices — and it’s those differences that can encourage organizations to look at Microsoft-friendly API tools.

Azure’s position is one where it’s the natural place to transition, thanks to Redmond’s healthy SaaS offerings: PowerBI, Dynamics, and, of course, Office 365. These services’ deep integration with Active Directory makes Azure the no-brainer choice as companies push more services into the cloud.

Walls AD Bridges

Active Directory is a fine product and rightly forms the basis of a great deal of common IT infrastructure. It’s extensible and robust, and therefore is to be found in use as an integral part of managing dozens of solutions in many businesses. It’s also a highly desirable element in API management — see below.

Like most IT decisions these days, keeping Active Directory and choosing Azure are the type of decision taken on business grounds; cold hard figures pretty much always win over prejudice that stems from recollections of Microsoft of a previous generation.

Those empirical figures also show that, in many cases, companies have invested in equipping themselves with staff and resources that are .NET framework native. Those are skills that transfer nicely to playing with Azure Service Bus queues & topics in cloud applications, for example.

With the solutions we highlight below, the enterprise can keep its skill set focused and lean, leverage the Azure optimizations, use Active Directory schema with little by way of significant reworking, and manage multiple API gateways.

What is significantly important to readers will be compatibility in mixed environments of the featured vendors’ products. Outside of small businesses (fewer than 50 staff), few organizations rely entirely on Microsoft, Apple, AIX, or SUSE. In these cases, the ability to “play nice” with other architectures is a must; after all, the raison d’etre of APIs is all about interoperability, and we would expect API management tools, especially, to be engineered with that ethos.

For today’s businesses, bridges between architectures have to be robust and fit for purpose. Part of that fitness is the ability to scale and provide services that are agnostic and elastic. We think the following three vendors worthy of note in those respects.

NEVATECH

Nevatech offers a platform-agnostic solution, Sentinet, to manage APIs and API-consumer applications regardless of the platform on which they are deployed. It’s the only vendor (to our knowledge) that offers on-premise, cloud, and hybrid API management as a single solution and one of the few that runs natively on the Microsoft platform.

As you’d expect, it handles REST APIs, yet companies with significant SOAP-rich services in daily use (BizTalk server, for example) use Nevatech Sentinet to manage them — one of its specialisms. The solution can also enrich data or even transform on the fly to present RESTful APIs.

Security models vary but represent a significant investment. Sentinet supports Microsoft-specific security models as applied to APIs, like AD via Windows Integrated security or on-premises AD Federation Services, instead of replicating existing policies on a new framework, or relying on intermediary products.

As companies move applications and services to the cloud, Sentinet works natively with many Azure services such as Azure Active Directory, Azure Service Bus Relay, and queue/topic subscriptions. Any Azure optimizations available can be leveraged by staff conversant in a standard IIS and .NET programming model.  specific authorization rules or custom message processing logic, developers will already be familiar with the mechanisms.

In a few weeks, we’ll be taking a deeper look at Sentinet’s specifics, so keep checking back to these pages. In the meantime, if what you’ve read is of interest, why not reach out to Nevatech for a free trial?

MICRO FOCUS

The NetIQ AD Bridge from Micro Focus allows Active Directory policies to propagate across Linux systems to create a single point of control that’s critical on the three-pronged aims of security, homogeneity, and adherence to statutory oversight, such as data protection legislation.

While smaller deployments of services in test environments might be viably maintained by manual duplication of accounts and policies from Active Directory to LDAP (for example), at scale, there is a significant danger of errors, especially when accounts and policies reach end-of-life. While the workload is not necessarily duplicated 100%, there are always edge cases that increase risk and endanger compliance.

On a larger scale, facilities like granular delegations that need to be double-checked for veracity are simply not possible, so many IT departments turn to the NetIQ Bridge to help them use Active Directory as the single IAM provider in mixed environments.

The solution works irrespective of whether deployed with cloud or on-premise targets in focus and provides a single pane of glass oversight with its ActiveView model.

The platform also helps automate and collate required data for governance audits — which helps IT pros provide proof of the capability of data protection and a facility to create ongoing monitoring and facilitation as the enterprise’s facilities expand onto multiple Microsoft/Linux architectures.

Micro Focus publishes a handy, two-page data sheet available right here[PDF] if you need more information.

ASPIRESYS

As a large, enterprise-focused technology provider, the AspireSys stable contains various platforms and integration tools that help businesses digitally transform using their existing stack. Auras Cloud, for instance, comprises pre-built services and APIs for cloud integration, omnichannel integration, retail functions like POS integration, mobile APIs, and IoT integration.

It keys into the interconnected multi-cloud environment in many enterprises, supplying an end-to-end, best-of-breed series of solutions that abstract the software, control and transport layers away from common languages that are readily assimilated.

As a single example of the many modeling schemas the company supports and promotes, the AURAS-B2B is a fleet of comprehensive integration services built to simplify the business and empower business integration using advanced iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service).

This facility goes beyond mere cross-platform functionality, and creates a patina of software and commodity overlays that power digital technology-focused businesses.

AURAS-B2B is designed to integrate Business-to-Business related data, processes, and services using industry standards such as EDI, EDIFACT, ACORD AL3/XML, and APIs. The AURAS-B2B is a solution built based on the combination of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and messaging standards to exchange information across the Enterprise.

On top of this converged omni-connectivity, Aspire’s multi-tenant SaaS development framework Techcello is a one-stop solution for all cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) requirements. It comes with an architecture that is completely cloud-independent, so companies can pick up applications and have them transfer across multi-cloud deployment strategies, allowing financial independence from closed-loop pricing structures. For DevOps, the development process involves out-of-the-box CI/CD options available to set up automated release pipelines.

If that sort of range of offerings is of interest, we suggest you immerse yourself in more right here.


Nevatech