Red Hat has finally filled a big gap in their product portfolio by acquiring 3scale, a small privately-held vendor, with about 40 employees, offering an API Management solution. Existing Red Hat customers without an API Management solution, now have a Red Hat option with 3scale. Likewise, existing 3scale customers can look at Red Hat product portfolio for solutions to their IT challenges.
There has been quite a bit market consolidation in the API Management market in the last couple of years via acquisitions. For example, TIBCO, CA and Axway acquired Mashery, Layer 7, and Vordel respectively. Every acquisition comes with its own set of challenges in relation to how the acquired product will be brought into the fold of the acquirer’s offerings. This always brings some level of uncertainty about the acquired company, 3scale in this specific case. How will Red Hat go about merging 3scale into its product suite? What changes will 3scale go through in this process? What 3scale capabilities will go away/remain? What new capabilities will be added to it? As mentioned in Red Hat’s 3scale acquisition FAQ, for the foreseeable future, they have announced that the 3scale API management offering will continue to be sold.
Another challenge is how to resolve product direction incongruences introduced by an acquisition. Let’s not forget that Red Hat already has an API Management open source product called APIMAN. Albeit based on open source technologies, such as Nginx and Varnish, 3scale source code was not open. Red Hat has already announced that they will make 3scale open source. So, what does this mean to the fate of APIMAN? Now that Red Hat has two open source API Management solutions, they will have to decide how to merge these two divergent approaches. Will APIMAN be put into end-of-life mode? Will Red Hat continue to support the development of APIMAN? Will APIMAN capabilities be merged into 3scale? Given Red Hat’s past behavior, customers using APIMAN may be stuck with it with no option to easily migrate to 3scale. Examples of this are Red Hat’s past product replacements, such as from JBoss ESB to SwitchYard and then to Fuse ESB, or from JBoss MQ to JBoss Messaging and then to HornetQ and finally to ActiveMQ.
Integrating the newly acquired product with existing acquirer’s products is usually another area of concern. To speed up development and time-to-market, API management solutions must have out-of-the-box (OOTB) integration points with other products and support hybrid integration, where you need to run your solution on-premise and cloud simultaneously. I’m not referring to integration points with third-party products based on standard protocols, or how the acquired company complements the acquirer’s products. I’m referring to actual built-in integration points between products offered by the same vendor so that their combined use delivers higher value to a customer. In the case of Red Hat, one has to wonder if and when Red Hat will develop OOTB integration points that will automatically push APIs from Red Hat JBoss Fuse, Red Hat JBoss BRMS and Red Hat Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) to 3scale. Red Hat had been working with 3scale for a few months. For example, on May 23, 2016, 3scale’s Nginx-based API Gateway was made available as a Docker image on Red Hat OpenShift (Red Hat’s PaaS), but 3scale’s API management component is still SaaS-based. This model doesn’t support hybrid integration. This is a hurdle Red Hat has to resolve and although, Red Hat has already announced that they will make available 3scale on-premise in the future, the concern of OOTB integration points between 3scale with other Red Hat products still remains. I’m sure Red Hat will address these in the future.
Then there’s the Red Hat and 3scale partners. What will happen to the smaller 3scale partner network? Red Hat partner ecosystem is much larger than 3scale’s. Although Red Hat has announced that they plan to continue the relationships with 3scale’s partners, they have also said that they are bringing Red Hat’s larger and more expansive partner programs and enablement resources to augment 3scale’s programs. 3scale partners will have to self-enable on Red Hat products to widen their expertise to prevent losing business to larger Red Hat partners that will surely broaden their services to include 3scale. My suspicion here is that some level of services cannibalization will take place that will result in the demise of some small 3scale partners.
Another interesting topic is the relationship that 3scale has with Amazon and Rackspace, on which 3scale SaaS runs its cloud-based dashboard. At this time, Red Hat OpenShift Online runs on Amazon EC2, so Red Hat depends on Amazon for their IaaS, which presents customers with the challenge of having a two-vendor solution, should they run 3scale on Red Hat OpenShift. Not to mention, Red Hat will now have to compete with Amazon API Gateway, Amazon’s API Management offering. What will happen to customers already taking advantage of Rackspace deployments? Will these customers be forced to migrate to Red Hat OpenShift Online?
With IBM API Connect, you get enterprise-ready capabilities today without having to deal with all the concerns and challenges listed above. Here’s a table comparing some high-level capabilities between 3scale and IBM API Connect:
| IBM API Connect
|Microservice support outside APIm platform||Yes||Yes1|
|Integrated microservice support in APIm platform||Yes||no|
|Integrated graphical messaging mapping tooling||Yes||no|
|Policy enforcement without programmatic changes to API service providers||Yes||no2|
|Hybrid deployment support for entire APIm platform||Yes||no3|
|OOTB integration points with acquirer’s products||Yes||no4|
|Single approach to APIm||Yes||no|
|Hardware format of API gateway||Yes||no|
|Software format of API gateway||Yes||Yes|
|Docker version of API gateway||Yes||Yes|
|Ability to provide own IaaS for cloud deployments||Yes||no|
|Azure support for API Gateway||Yes||Yes|
|Amazon support for API Gateway||Yes||Yes|
|SoftLayer /Bluemix support for API Gateway||Yes||no|
1 – A user can now leverage Red Hat supported products to author microservices
2 – To manage API traffic, 3scale uses code plugins that require programmatic changes to your API backends
3 – Management capabilities only available on cloud. Red Hat has announced they will ship an on-premise version of 3scale in the future
4 – Red Hat may add features to automatically publish APIs from their products to 3scale in the future
Only time will tell if and when and how Red Hat plans to successfully address all the challenges and concerns discussed above. But you don’t have to wait for Red Hat to resolve all these issues. If you are an existing or prospective 3scale customer, you may be concerned as to the direction of 3scale post-acquisition or you may not want to wait until the dust settles. You already have a working, readily available, feature-rich and market leading API management solution in IBM API Connect.
To obtain a free evaluation copy of IBM API Connect, please refer to http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/api-connect.
If you’re thinking about migrating away from 3scale or any other API Management offering, please contact your IBM sales representative for a free Migration Assessment.