The Other API Economy

Lori MacVittie Miniatura
Lori MacVittie
Published June 14, 2016

If you’ve been paying attention (and I know you have) then you’ve heard about “The API Economy.” That’s the move from more traditional, middleware-based integration to the use of APIs as both integration and business model. From connecting the disparate microservices into which monolithic applications are decomposing to providing the means by which continuous delivery and continuous deployment are achieved, APIs are the means by which everything is integrated, connected, distributed, and delivered.


Most of the focus of the API economy, however, is on applications and their users (that’s corporate, consumer, and, increasingly, other apps). Given the title of this blog you won’t be surprised when I tell you there’s another API economy out there that’s less visible, less exulted, and yet no less important to the future of business and apps.

The “Other API Economy”, of course, is inside the data center. It’s the foundation upon which the ecosystem of automation and orchestration is being built, device by device, system by system, service by service. It is the means by which the deployment of application infrastructure is automated, network infrastructure is managed, and security services integrated into the software development lifecycle.

Infrastructure APIs are, in fact, the cornerstone of technologies and architectures like SDN, SDDC, and the enabler of automation and orchestration when DevOps approaches are applied to the production pipeline. They are the abstraction that enables what we call “cloud computing.” They’re what provide developers with the ability to self-service provision the network, compute, storage, and security services they need to deliver and secure applications in public and, increasingly, private clouds.

The infrastructure API economy is a critical one to business and applications alike. It enables organizations to employ solutions like OpenStack, VMware NSX, and Cisco ACI together or individually. Those systems on their own, however, are not enough. They are the orchestrators, the directors of deployment, the means by which the actual network, compute, and security services are provisioned and deployed. To achieve that, they use the APIs of the platforms that provide those services, offering organizations a wide variety of choice in which systems and services they use to deliver and secure applications.

One of those platforms, of course, is F5.

We (and that’s the corporate We today) have always viewed APIs as the best way to integrate with other systems. Our iControl API, first SOAP and now REST, has been used as the means to integrate with a variety of application and infrastructure systems for years (since 2001, if you were wondering). With the advent of cloud computing and hyper-scale requirements, there has grown a need for the same kind of integration at scale. Out of that need has grown movements like DevOps, and SDN and SDDC. To support them, infrastructure must necessarily embrace the other API economy and provide the means to not only integrate but integrate at scale.


That’s why we built iWorkflow.

iWorkflow is not about management, but rather its about enabling the orchestration needed for business and operations today to scale, and scale fast. It provides the means to treat app services as code, using templates (iApps), and to automate the provisioning and deployment of the application services critical to the performance, security, and availability business needs. With APIs (because of course it participates in the Other API Economy) iWorkflow is able to integrate with data center orchestration systems like those from VMware and Cisco, providing consistent, repeatable, and predictable deployment of app services whether they’re hosted on physical or virtual platforms, in the cloud or on-premises.

You can learn more about our latest software, iWorkflow, and how it enables orchestration on DevCentral at