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API hubs multiplying? SoftwareAG touts AppMesh control pane to wrangle service mesh mess

DevOps, IT crew - time to get to know each other...

Oracle has an API hub, SAP has one and so does Infor. WorkDay and Salesforce? Well…you get the idea. RESTful and SOAP APIs have become so widespread that even the loci developed to help manage application interfaces are a bit of a mess.

Founded the same year as a human first landed on the Moon, SoftwareAG has long been working in the backroom of enterprise application management and data. It has an API gateway too, but has now launched a control pane it calls an API-mesh to help try to bring order to chaos, or at least hide the mess behind another layer of abstraction.

The inspiration for its webMethods AppMesh comes from service mesh platforms such as Istio, which is mainly used to control load balancing, access control, metrics, logging, and service-to-service communication in the Kubernetes container orchestration system.

AppMesh - part of the firm's larger webMethods API Acceleration Platform - is integrated with the service mesh in such a way as to have no effect on service mesh behaviour, SoftwareAG claimed.

It is also supposed to help companies organise and manage APIs along the lines of business semantics, the transactions they're used for, rather than their technical characteristics, said Stefan Sigg, chief product officer of Software AG.

For example, maybe a developer built some integration between finance and procurement applications for the purpose of matching purchase orders to invoices. Maybe the API sits there and works well for a few years, but then another developer comes along and wants to build another extension to the finance application to do with invoices. How would he or she know what has been achieved before? Maybe it's a big company and these kind of integrations have been done many times over, on different platforms and applications. The point of AppMesh is to allow developers and operations to find and manage these APIs according to the word "invoice" rather than the code on which they are built.

"The idea is to make it easier to build extensions for industry — or even company-specific — satellite applications, on top of the existing landscape. What is very crucial for companies is the cost and time it takes to do something like that. The more you are prepared with a semantically structured landscape of APIs, the faster and more cost-effective it is going to be. You can have a developer building on top of that, knowing that it is smoothly connected to the more infrastructure and network layer where the service mesh is living," Sigg said.

The new feature is designed to help protect microservices and reduce the risk of exposure with user identification and security policies. It also allows policy-based control to offer insight into what your users are doing and controls how your applications respond, the company said.

Other features include dashboards to trace the path of transactions through the service mesh and understand how your app is being used.

Earlier this week, Software AG posted first calendar quarter results [PDF] it described as "resilient". Revenue growth was up 2 per cent to €207m while operating profit fell 23 per cent to €39.7 million. Its core Digital Business Platform saw a number of deals slip into the second quarter leading to flat bookings growth of 1 per cent. Cloud and IoT beat expectations with bookings growth of 65 per cent.

Pricing information wasn't yet available at the time of publication. ®

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