Archive for July 2013
Better, Stronger, Faster

By John Thielens, CSO, Axway

In May, the I-5 bridge north of Seattle collapsed when a truck hauling drilling equipment hit some overhead crossbeams.

In June, a former Veterans Affairs computer security chief testified before Congress that “at least eight foreign-sponsored organizations . . . have hacked into computer networks at the Veterans Affairs Department in recent years.”

And while these two events are completely unrelated, the former was still fresh in my mind when the latter occurred, prompting me to think about how the aging infrastructure in the physical world isn’t unlike the aging infrastructure in the data-protection world.

The VA, it turns out, didn’t encrypt their databases correctly, leaving them as vulnerable as the I-5 bridge, unable to handle unexpected loads and stresses.

Simply put, their systems were old and outdated, and something like this was inevitable.

But instead of taking a common, reactive tack like pace-layering — where stable, older systems are wrapped in adaptive layers, which creates protective, agile front ends — perhaps an organization like the VA should consider capitalizing on their original investment, rebuilding their older systems, and extending their systems’ service life.

Admittedly, rebuilding things is usually the wrong way to go, but in this case — thanks to new tools, architectural approaches, and isolation boundaries that allow us to heighten security, lower costs, and avoid the “spaghetti code” problem that makes systems inadaptable and insecure — I think it’s actually right.

You need look no further than API-based architectures to see why. When it comes to providing a loose coupling between modules and establishing new interfaces, APIs hold a lot of promise. They make it so we don’t have to worry about rebuilding a whole system — or disturbing the core-based layer of the enterprise — when updating an aging infrastructure. They make it so re-engineering an existing system isn’t only feasible, it’s cost-effective.

What do you think? Shouldn’t we rebuild with stainless steel instead of pig iron, with something cheap and strong instead of heavy and brittle? Shouldn’t we use new tools, designs, and approaches to reinvigorate our systems and make them better than ever before? I look forward to your comments!

How APIs are enabling businesses to maximise the potential of the cloud

I recently contributed a blog post to Guardian.co.uk. Please take a look and share your thoughts!

The application programming interfaces (API) economy has arrived and is booming thanks to the role it plays in cloud computing. But what are APIs and why do they matter for businesses today? Put simply, APIs facilitate communication between applications. Previously, APIs fuelled the growth of consumer-oriented applications such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For example, Twitter’s popularity is largely because users can interact with the network through multiple channels and devices, made possible by APIs. But these interfaces are no longer the preserve of the consumer world. As a result of trends such as bring your own device (BYOD), employees, partners and customers alike want to connect to corporate services and data. Moreover, they expect to do this via the cloud and a host of mobile applications.