APIs are Connection Points for Everything in the Cloud

In the center of cloud growth there is one very specific technology (or rather platform) that has been shaping how we communicate over the cloud. The need to enhance the cloud experience and have cross-cloud compatibility has helped push the cloud API (Application Programming Interface) model forward. The ability to cross-connect various applications – and even physical platforms – is an important need for many different industries across a number of verticals.

Right now, there are four major areas where cloud computing will need to integrate with another platform (or even another cloud provider):

  • PaaS APIs (Service-level): This means integration with databases, messaging systems, portals, and even storage components.
  • SaaS APIs (Application-level): CRM and ERP applications are examples of where application APIs can be used to create a cloud application extension for your environment.
  • IaaS APIs (Infrastructure-level): The rapid provisioning or de-provisioning of cloud resources is something that an infrastructure API can help with. Furthermore, network configurations and workload (VM) management can also be an area where these APIs are used.
  • Cloud provider and cross-platform APIs: Ultimately, this is the really interesting model. Many organizations already don’t use only one cloud provider or even platform. More providers are offering generic HTTP and HTTPS API integration to allow their customers greater cloud versatility. Furthermore, cross-platform APIs allow cloud tenants the ability to access resources not just from their primary cloud provider, but from others as well. Plus, why not have the ability to deliver to deliver public cloud features to an organization which only wants to stay private?

Who’s in the API race and what are they doing?

There are a lot of people in the API arena. Many are trying to create better ways to connect into the cloud model. More than ever before, there are major models which are continuing to shape how organizations interact with cloud resources. Platforms like CloudStack and OpenStack are creating an open source infrastructure to enhance connectivity. Many different API players already include:

  • CloudStack
  • OpenStack API
  • Nimbus
  • Google Compute Engine
  • Simple Cloud
  • VMware vCloud API
  • And lots of others…

There’s one more important API model, which is doing something that we’re going to see a lot more of in the near future. It’s the idea of cloud agnosticism. Or, if your environment wants to deploy a private cloud with the full functionality of a public cloud platform — it should have the ability to do so!

The Amazon Web Services API and Eucalyptus cloud model (with version 3.3) is doing just that. In fact, according to a recent Data Center Knowledge Article, Eucalyptus 3.3 is also the first private cloud platform to support Netflix’s open source tools — including Chaos Monkey, Asgard, and Edda — through its API fidelity with AWS.

According to Eucalyptus, the new platform includes three pretty major features which help keep any cloud model very agile and robust:

  • Auto-scaling – The ability to scale Eucalyptus cloud resources up or down in order to maintain performance and meet SLAs.
  • Elastic load balancing – The ability to distribute incoming application traffic and service calls across multiple Eucalyptus workload instances.
  • CloudWatch – A monitoring tool similar to Amazon CloudWatch that monitors resources and applications on Eucalyptus clouds.

Basically, users are able to run applications in their existing data centers that are compatible with a variety of Amazon Web Services (EC2 and S3 for example). What does this mean? The future of cloud connectivity will revolve around the direct ability to interface with a variety of cloud resources. Already, we’re able to deploy public cloud solutions with a private cloud setting. This type of cloud evolution will only continue as more cloud-based services are developed and deployed.

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About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.

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  1. Great article Bill! No doubt, most of cloud services are accessed using an API for example we are using a Twitter API to login to the site and Google Map API. These are all well documented. However, there are lots of APIs that are often not supported or documented as they should be.