The importance of open APIs in cloud automation

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11:11 Systems' Sam Woodcock on how platform level APIs lead to better business outcomes

Automation for automation's sake is almost always a mistake, said Sam Woodcock, senior director at Cloud services provider 11:11 Systems, during Computing's recent Deskflix: Cloud Automation event. Instead, organisations should retain a laser focus on why they want to automate something, and what they are trying to achieve.

"Why use automation in the first place?" he asked. "Focus on the outcome, the business objective and work back from there"

One common business objective for which automation is frequently considered is faster time to market. Organisations want to streamline production processes to gain a competitive advantage.

Another is increased business agility, being able to quickly respond to market pressures and opportunities.

Improving the customer experience is a third desired outcome, using automation to increase responsiveness and reduce waiting times, for example; it can also aid customer retention.

Finally, automation can help meet the objective of enhanced availability and resilience, increasingly important where services need to be always on and essential for revenue, reputation and competitive advantage.

Central to meeting these objectives from a cloud automation perspective are open and addressable APIs, because they enable services to be extensible. It becomes much easier to add new services, including security, availability, disaster recovery, monitoring and other services if they can plug into the API. Indeed, business agility and improved UX are highly dependent on this sort of extensible architecture, and organisations moving to the cloud should make sure they are not locked in by proprietary interfaces, Woodcock said.

As an example, the 11:11 cloud platform interfaces with Veeam for data protection, backup and disaster recovery services using its open API, as well as numerous other security services from other third party vendors to assure resilience and availability. Importantly for UX, these services are all accessible via the same API, making it easy to automate tasks such as regular backups, failover tests, vulnerability scanning.

"It's just one API to consume and leverage from a cloud services perspective", Woodcock said.

This architecture is also invaluable when allowing customers to evaluating services, test drive solutions before committing to them, and simulate costs, all of which means that businesses can meet their objectives quicker.

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