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Red Hat 3scale 2.2 aligns API management, open source drive

Red Hat recently previewed features for its on-premises API management product, 3scale 2.2, as well as a management initiative that fosters automation.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The next update to 3scale's API management platform improves multi-tenancy and other features to align the product's on-premises and hosted versions. But the real changes arrive later this summer, when all components of the platform are open-sourced.

A few components of 3scale 2.1, such as the APIcast gateway, currently are open source, but 3scale's goal to open-source everything proved too complex for the startup. Red Hat's 2016 acquisition of 3scale brought the company the resources it needed to make that move, said 3scale founder Steve Willmott, who's now senior director and head of API infrastructure at Red Hat, based in Raleigh, N.C.

An open API management platform is an important element in 3scale customer Swiss Railways' open source agenda, said Thomas Siegrist, the company's head of integration and a speaker at Red Hat Summit 2018 here last week. The company has moved to all-open-source APIs to foster collaboration on new products with internal and external customers and partners.

Control is key in 3scale 2.2

Steve Willmott, senior director and head of API infrastructure, Red HatSteve Willmott

3scale API Management 2.2 expands an organization's control over the full API management lifecycle, with Multi-tenancy, billing and gateway policy management capabilities, Willmott said. With multi-tenancy capabilities, organizations can create their own 3scale-hosted API management platform and build environments tailored for partners and internal business units. A management layer change, dubbed API as code, will boost automation throughout both versions.

New billing capabilities in 3scale 2.2 improve tracking and control of public API usage, so it can be billed accurately. A surprising number of people want to do chargebacks or usage and cost tracking between internal groups, Willmott said.

New policies for API gateways enhance control of policy management. Support for mutual Transport Layer Security transport between the gateway and the API back ends provides safe connections for companies with policies that require secure TLS everywhere, or if a company's gateway and API back ends are in different physical data centers, said Mark Cheshire, director of product management at Red Hat.

After many years of standard support for the MySQL relational database, 3scale 2.2 adds Oracle Database support to help Oracle Database users hone their in-house expertise, Cheshire said.

Apply code practices to API management

With this release, Red Hat 3scale embarks on an API management approach that fosters automation. Previously, the 3scale API management platform controlled the product's management layer with its own API and used Ansible to automate from the continuous CI/CD pipeline when a deployment required a service update.

In that scheme, the configuration of 3scale still lived in the 3scale components, but the API management-as-code approach removes all the configuration, so the management layer is editable and versionable, Willmott said.

Software engineers typically configure all services through a UI and do not treat API management as code, Cheshire said. The traditional approach looks at each step of the API lifecycle as a sequential process, which creates a fragile environment where corrected mistakes can negatively affect other functions.

With API as code, we do things in parallel ... everything is done in an agile manner, so we've moved from fragile [to] agile.
Mark Cheshiredirector of product management, Red Hat

"With API as code, we do things in parallel. We get to the point where everything is done in an agile manner, so we've moved from fragile [to] agile," Cheshire said.

The change management benefits of automation are substantial, Willmott said. Think of the complexity to manage API changes across the organization. With API management as code, an organization can control every element and version over the infrastructure, and all code is explicit and expressed in rewritable terms. So, for example, if one team launches a new API, automation means they don't have to wait for someone else to make that API available to the test environment and so on.

"You can literally roll back your entire API management state," he said.

Easier API governance is another benefit of the API management-as-code approach. "It's easy to find standard governance processes, because APIs are no different from any other type of application the organization is deploying," Cheshire said.

The 2.2 features, combined with a new automation approach, are steps on Red Hat 3scale's path to deliver full API lifecycle management capabilities. The end goal, Cheshire said, is to provide an automated seamless bridge between all the lifecycle activities -- from API design to production and maintenance.

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