Making Sense of API Data Is a Business Challenge

Thanks to application programming interfaces (APIs), IT organizations have never had more access to data. However, having the tools needed to turn all that data into actionable intelligence is a whole different matter.

One of the most interesting API examples is Goldman Sachs, which arguably has one of the most advanced IT organizations in the world. Speaking at the recent DatacenterDynamics Enterprise conference, Adam Early, vice president of facilities and engineering for the financial services firm, confessed that while Goldman Sachs is relentless about collecting every piece of data possible, making sense of that data remains a challenge.

“We want to take data and leverage it in a way we never thought of before,” he says. “But it’s easy to get what you asked for, but not what you wanted.”

Early explains that the Goldman Sachs initiative stems from a water leakage event that occurred in one its data centers a few years ago. Being notoriously risk adverse, the company embarked on an ambitious effort to collect data to determine what could happen in any given outage scenario. Thanks to the rise of APIs at both the infrastructure and application levels, it’s becoming easier to collect that information.

“You need to create a fabric,” says Early, “and you want to make sure you’re making use of open protocols.”

But Early admits that Goldman Sachs is now revisiting the entire project after a review by its cyber-security team suggested that the BackWeb software that many vendors and IT organizations use to collect data from APIs isn’t secure enough for sharing what might be sensitive information. As a result, he says that the whole initiative remains a work in progress.

APIs Make Infrastructure and Apps Data Readily Available

In another API trend, Rhonda Ascierto, research director for data center technologies and eco-efficient IT at 451 Research, asserts that data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software, as IT organizations know it today, is morphing into data center service optimization (DCSO) software. That’s happening thanks to the amount of infrastructure and applications data that is readily available via APIs.

The end goal, she says, is to finally be able to manage IT as a true service. While that’s been an IT goal for as long as anyone in IT can remember, all the different IT silos make it difficult to achieve.

“Right now, it can get quite messy,” Ascierto points out. “Managing all those APIs is a job in itself.”

DCSO software promises two things. First, it will give IT organizations data from APIs that can be turned into actionable intelligence. Second, it will provide a systems and application integration framework through which many IT functions will be increasingly automated.

Todd Traver, vice president of IT optimization and strategy for the Uptime Institute, says API integration is also going to require IT organizations to start thinking well beyond the four walls of the traditional data center. “The edge of the network is now very much part of the data center,” he says, “and applications are forcing the issue.”