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Our industry is built on impossible and unlikely dreams because they really could happen. This is why we’re here to say this: universal API management will really happen. It’s a real problem, and to address it, we’ve started to assemble the required components. 

How to combat API sprawl with UAPIM 

Universal API management is the ability to manage and govern all APIs in an enterprise regardless of the underlying technology they were created with and where the API is physically running. Universal API management is needed because we increasingly find ourselves in a heterogeneous world.  Let us first explore this last point in some detail.

Move everything to the multi-cloud 

We have been led to believe that the cloud can help us reduce costs by running our workloads on homogeneous software and hardware hosted in centralized data centers run by big companies that have better economies of scale than we do. Whilst this can be true in cases of small-to-medium-scale generic workloads, many applications we are starting to see are multi-cloud. There are a number of key factors that are driving this:

  • Circumstance: Sometimes stuff just happens. When company A acquires company B they inherit assets hosted on a different cloud provider. Often it’s easier to just let it run than to consolidate. 
  • Flexibility: With the flexibility to transfer applications or pieces of an application between cloud providers, organizations can choose the best-performing or most cost-effective services for specific application workloads.  This could even involve public cloud repatriation – migrating a large-scale workload from the public cloud to the private cloud to support cost and performance metrics.
  • Federation: Large companies need to be nimble and it is not efficient to mandate global technology standards. It’s much more agile to define guidelines and have different business units define technology choices that best match their business needs.  
  • Optimization: Modern applications will often have very specific requirements around latency, power consumption, security, privacy, and/or resilience that can only be met through an optimized set of infrastructure services. The components for these solutions will be found on specific clouds. An example of this is the incorporation of custom silicon, such as Google’s Tensor Processing Unit, AWS Graviton, and Microsoft’s Field Programmable Gate Arrays, in traditional software-only solutions.

    Software may be eating the world, but hardware has now come along to help take a few bites. At some point, optimized hardware and software will deliver more consistent and predictable performance than a general-purpose device running commodity software. To obtain this will likely require multi-cloud.
  • Staying out of jail: Data sovereignty laws and regulations are a big deal and a major headache for solution designers. Multi-cloud offers the opportunity to put data components in a physical place and a security state that will support compliance mandates. Some data components of a solution need to be more secure than others. It is often cost-prohibitive to hold all data in a solution in the compliance tier, and the flexibility to store data in lower tiers, potentially on different clouds, may also have architectural and cost benefits. 
  • Reality: Applications are now a melange of components from different providers be it payment, logistics, mapping, or others.  Most likely most of these components are run from different clouds. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your applications are multi-cloud. 

MuleSoft recognized the need for a hybrid cloud early on as organizations began migrating to the cloud. At the time, this was a huge benefit to customers. Now, we recognize the need to move to a multi-cloud approach. 

Organizations that are committed to a multi-cloud strategy need to plan for workloads to span cloud providers. The ability to build new services on top of a multi-cloud stack creates the opportunity of offering differentiated products. This type of service has even been referred to as a “supercloud”. 

So where does an integration platform fit into building your “supercloud”? Let’s find out. 

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Multi-cloud and API management

To become a “supercloud,” we have a real need for multi-cloud infrastructure and applications. Distributed topology support is complex and requires management, and orchestrating and automating the deployment of applications is critical. There’s considerable innovation in this space with cloud resource orchestration frameworks able to mobilize resources offered by various cloud providers.

The largest challenge is that there’s a lack of feature parity and standardization between cloud providers. For instance, when an application engineering team needs to build for multi-cloud purposes, there’s a substantial amount of refactoring required for each cloud. 

This is one of the problems integration platforms, including Mulesoft, set out to solve. Integration platforms enable interoperability through cross-platform support and a drive to standardization. To that end, multi-cloud compatibility is a central design theme at MuleSoft. With the Anypoint Platform, API deployments can be made on any cloud provider without the need for code refactoring. 

While this holds true for traditional integration use cases, this situation has been complicated by two factors. 

First, the desire to federate technology selection to business units and project teams has led to a proliferation of integration solutions to support specific integration patterns. Examples of this are event-based tools (AsyncAPI) and font-based tools (graphQL). Second, the emergence of dev-ops use cases. Application developers have adopted API proxies and lightweight microservices gateways to support their specific application needs. 

Both of these factors have led to a proliferation of single purpose integration solutions that are native to specific applications and cloud providers. Enterprises now have numerous APIs and gateways across many clouds. The resulting challenges are limited reuse, inconsistent security and governance, and limited visibility due to disparate management tooling. 

Imagine an enterprise wishing to implement a global privacy and security policy to handle customer data. Changes must be applied to multiple systems to implement this policy. This process will involve multiple organizations and processes. 

Conversely, envision an enterprise that has adopted universal API management where all APIs, regardless of where they are physically running, are managed through a common control plane. This enterprise can scale data management, including security, governance, discoverability, and observability across their organization from this central control point using standardized processes. This is MuleSoft’s vision for universal API management. 

UAPIM is here 

MuleSoft is building the capabilities to turn this vision for universal API management into reality. This will enable users to harness the power of multi-cloud to turn services into a “supercloud”. 

MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform will support all types of API technology: traditional integration, API, and event-driven using any type of gateway, in any cloud environment, with enterprise-grade governance, management, and monitoring tools.

This will allow customers to:

  • Build and catalog any API or microservice: We are currently testing our new API cataloging tool which can scan, detect, and catalog existing APIs and API documentation in any development environment in Anypoint Exchange. The cataloging tool works for both Mule and non-Mule APIs and plugs into any CI/CD pipeline to automate the cataloging process. 
  • Govern APIs at scale: With complete visibility of all APIs from the development process through to production comes the ability to govern API specs for compliance with industry and company standards and enforce them throughout the entire API lifecycle. 
  • Secure APIs with a fast, light gateway: To support enterprise API management, MuleSoft will provide a modernized, lightweight gateway: the Anypoint Flex Gateway, an ultra-fast API gateway built specifically to support microservices use cases.
  • Control and observe across environment:s – Microservices APIs built with Anypoint Flex Gateway can be managed alongside your other Mule APIs through the Anypoint platform control plane. Over time, we will build integrations with other gateways, allowing customers to directly apply policies and security on any API gateway via the Anypoint Platform.

Want to learn more? See how MuleSoft is disrupting the API management space with API Manager on the Anypoint Platform.