The Growing Importance of the Modern Cloud API

How do IT professionals seamlessly interweave applications, services and cloud computing? This is where the power of the modern API comes in. Bill Kleyman takes a look at how APIs are impacting various aspects of the data center.

Bill Kleyman

September 27, 2013

4 Min Read
The Growing Importance of the Modern Cloud API



How do cloud connections happen? Bill Kleyman looks at the power of APIs.

Let’s face facts: the concepts around cloud computing are here to stay. We’re evolving the way we utilize the cloud by creating segmentations like corporate and personal cloud environments. We have to remember that a cloud isn’t just one platform, but rather an intricate web of interconnected global services all working together to bring you data. To the user, the process must be transparent.

So what is happening behind the scenes? First, you have the data center, which is the home of the cloud. But on top of these physical resources sit applications, data processing services, and end-user information that must all correlate for specific cloud-based services. So how does that cloud connection happen? How do we seamlessly interweave applications, services and the cloud component? This is where the power of the modern API (Appplication Programming Interface) comes in. Here's a look at the areas where APIs are making a diffference:

  • Networking. Think of this as a combination of SDN and cloud connectivity technologies. One of the core components of a cloud is the networking piece. We are now able to create logical networks which span numerous data centers all with a software-defined network configuration. Take the Cisco Open Network Environment, for example. This cloud-ready approach creates a truly customizable framework to deliver powerful networking, programmability and abstraction policies. Powered by a variety of mechanisms, including APIs, agents, and controllers – this type of platform creates capabilities to truly enable intelligent cloud networks.

  • Storage. Cloud storage has come a long way. We now have distributed environments where storage is shared, cached and optimized all via intelligent storage controls. Data within the cloud continues to grow. Because of this, storage is becoming even more important within the cloud. So, to create more robust storage platform, APIs revolving around cloud-ready storage are great ways to enhance your environment. For example, Google Cloud Storage enables your cloud by allowing you to build applications using the Google App Engine. Then, within that same environment, you are able to directly store, serve and analyze your services with ready APIs.  Another great example is the interconnectivity between cloud-ready hypervisors and their storage component. NetApp’s Virtual Storage Console for VMware vSphere does this precisely. This combination of technologies is specifically designed to simplify the management of your storage infrastructure. VMware’s vStorage API extends functionality with additional interfaces and services that enable advanced storage capabilities. The great piece about this API is that it allows for NetApp as well as other vendors to be integrated with VMware vSphere workflows.

  • Application and Services. As more workloads are delivered via the cloud, various models for delivery are being adopted. These “as-a-Service” models are allowing cloud providers to interconnect numerous services together and delivery them as one logical package. The idea is Everything-as-a-Service. Service-based APIs and connectivity tools allow you to bridge the communication gap between core data center services. For example, you’re able to insert a complete security infrastructure at the hypervisor level by integrating with the hypervisor API. This allows you to create a client-less security environment capable of faster delivery and better resource utilization. Or, you’re able to use the earlier mentioned Google API model to connect applications built directly on that platform. The bottom line is that service-level APIs are helping connect services which directly deliver core cloud components.

  • Cloud. As more organizations move towards a cloud platform – there will need to be a mechanism to control and unite various cloud resources. This is where powerful cloud-ready stacks can really help out. For example, the Eucalyptus environment creates direct API services around numerous Amazon services. Now, you’re able to bring the power of the public cloud directly to your organization. With features like auto-scaling and elastic load-balancing, the Euca cloud allows for truly robust cloud infrastructure control. Another great example is the Apache CloudStack platform. With the latest release and even more upgrades coming – this stack model allows for API controls like load-balancing, auto-scaling, VM deployment, network control and much more. Why is this so great? Because platforms like CloudStack are able to integrate all of the core components to allow for true cloud-ready workflow automation and orchestration. Furthermore, this platform creates a true unification of cloud resources into a logical management portal.

It will certainly be interesting to see how many new services around cloud computing will continue to evolve. Already we have cloud models which extend data directly to the edge. Furthermore, demand around cloud professionals is seemingly continuing to increase as well.

The cloud will continue to allow the organization, data center and end-user to consume information at a rapidly growing pace. Driven by IT consumerization, the “on-demand” generation continuously wants their services delivered to them on any device, anytime and anywhere. The trick is to do all of this seamlessly. Cloud connectivity and the cloud API will unify various cloud platforms and allow for even greater elasticity. By creating robust platforms capable of vast interconnectivity – the cloud will transform the way we compute and allow us to truly consume everything, via the cloud.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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