On February 16, 2016, IBM announced IBM API Connect V5.0 extending the capabilities of its API Management offering to include microservices.
Unlike current API Management offerings in the market today, which only support the creation, monitoring and management of APIs, IBM API Connect goes beyond this and allows a user to quickly create the backend microservices, i.e. microservice implementations, that the APIs can invoke.
Like with the old-style API libraries, encapsulation and inheritance constructs, functions, EAI, SOA, etc., it’s always been about how to turn out solutions faster, and nowadays in this digital age with the advent of Internet-of-Things, mobile devices, big data, analytics and cloud, the speed at which applications change and are delivered and maintained is something that businesses need to be able to sustain to remain competitive. To this end, including full software development lifecycle (SDLC) support for microservices in an API Management solution makes sense because Microservice Architecture and API Management highly complement each other. Not only do you need to manage APIs but you also need to implement the microservices that these APIs invoke and having a unified and integrated platform that allows doing both is very beneficial.
In Microservice Architecture, an application is composed of services that are completely autonomous and self-contained providing the ability to update/maintain/create individual services without having to re-test the entire application hence speeding up the delivery and maintenance of solutions. Each microservice is front-ended by an API and as microservices and their APIs proliferate, an API gateway can monitor and manage all the APIs at runtime. And, in addition, a full API Management solution can deliver the capabilities for managing, monitoring, securing, sharing and socializing these APIs. This is how Microservice Architecture and API Management are tightly related and IBM API Connect integrates the capabilities of the classical API Management with microservice SDLC.
You can implement a microservice in any language. For example, Node.js, which has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, is a great platform to develop microservices in and so is Java. IBM API Connect integrates, supports and manages these two microservice platforms in a unified fashion, which provides digital businesses the speed to deliver and maintain applications in the digital economy.
There are no competitors with a comparable product to IBM API Connect, which includes create, run, secure and manage capabilities for end-to-end API lifecycle. Create and run refer to the ability to author, test, debug, and monitor Node.js and Java microservices and manage and enforce refer to the ability to author, test, debug, and monitor APIs that proxy microservices or legacy services. However, there are a few vendors that deliver microservice capabilities and API Management in a disjointed fashion or not to the extent that IBM does. Some vendors will refer customers to open-source projects for the microservice platform but will not support it. In other words, customers will have to depend on the community for fixes and patches and that’s a risky way to run a solution in production. In addition, IBM API Connect supports hybrid deployment flexibility (on-premise or cloud), as well as out-of-the-box integration points to other IBM products and the option to leverage IBM DataPower as an API gateway. IBM API Connect is also free for developers.
The following table summarizes some key differentiators between, IBM API Connect and other vendors. I have only considered vendors that provide comparable fully supported functionality for both, microservice SDLC and API Management. Vendors like Akana, Axway, CA, Mashery, 3scale are not included because they don’t fulfill these criteria:
|Node.js and Java runtimes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Integrated Node.js + Java runtime in a single offering||Yes||no||no||no|
|Integrated Node.js visual IDE||Yes||no||no||no|
|Integrated Node.js build and deploy capabilities||Yes||no||no||no|
|Integrated Node.js process management capabilities||Yes||no||no||no|
|Integrated Node.js performance metrics capabilities||Yes||no||no||no|
|Integrated Node.js profiler capabilities||Yes||no||no||no|
|Single integrated offering for end-to-end API lifecycle (create, run, secure, manage)||Yes||no||no||no|
|All components in integrated offering supported by vendor||Yes||no||no||no|
|Out-of-the-box integration to IIB, Cast Iron, WSRR, Datapower, mainframe||Yes||no||no||no|
|Software-based API gateway||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hardware appliance API gateway||Yes||no||no||no|
In summary, IBM API Connect is the only solution in the market that delivers a unified and integrated platform for API Management and microservices that will help your business succeed in the digital economy. For more information on IBM API Connect, please visit https://developer.ibm.com/apimanagement/2016/02/18/announcing-ibm-api-connect-a-complete-api-lifecycle-offering/