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API Management Year in Review and a Look Forward to 2014

  
  
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As an organization that started publishing APIs ten years ago on behalf of other organizations with our API self-publishing platform (called "Web Services" back then), and now serving thousands of customers with our API-centric business models and servicing billions of monetized transactions, we have seen many changes in the API management industry's landscape. With this in mind, there is no question that 2013 has been an important year for API management.

Data Warehousing 2013: A Changing Landscape

  
  

The general premise of data warehousing hasn't changed much over the years. The idea is still to aggregate as much relevant data as possible from multiple sources, centralize it in a repository of some kind, catalog it, and then utilize it for reporting and analytics to make better business decisions. An effective data warehousing strategy seamlessly enables trend analysis, predictive analytics, forecasting, decision support, and just about anything else we now categorize under the umbrella of "data science."

Partner Spotlight: ActivePrime & Oracle CRM On Demand

  
  
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I've had an opportunity to work closely with ActivePrime lately as they are in the homestretch of beta-testing their CleanVerify product. CleanVerify is one of a suite of products they market to help companies improve, organize, and better utilize the data within Oracle CRM On Demand. I'm really excited about what they have accomplished.

ActivePrime has integrated several services from StrikeIron as part of their solution. I am helping them test the usability of the integration. Utilizing StrikeIron's Cloud-based address verification, email verification, and phone validation products, ActivePrime is able to deliver a powerful, high-performance, real-time data validation and data cleansing solution fully integrated within Oracle CRM On Demand. This enables customers to focus on closing business rather than the ongoing maintenance of data within their CRM system.

For example, a call center representative collecting contact information from a customer and entering it into the Oracle CRM On Demand system can now automatically validate that the collected mailing address, phone number, and email address are all correct (see screen shots below). Validating data at the point of collection before it ever gets into the CRM system can reduce the cost of downstream data cleansing efforts as much as 10x, ensuring a high level of quality data within the CRM system from the moment the data is entered.

In addition to validating the data in real-time, additional information, such as correct ZIP+4 and county, is also added to address records.

Another nice feature is a log that gets created that keeps track of every validation that occurs within the Oracle CRM On Demand system, ideal for administrators and other data stewards who like to stay on top of these kinds of things.

If you would like to try the integration during the beta period, or anytime after, ActivePrime is offering a CleanVerify trial here.

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StrikeIron Partner Spotlight: Informatica

  
  
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Many of StrikeIron's direct customers integrate our various API-delivered data services into applications, Web sites, and business processes entirely on their own, usually with a single line of code or two - a testament to how easy this is to do. These product offerings available on the Cloud can be integrated into anything that can consume a SOAP or REST-based Web service (which is just about anything).

However, StrikeIron has also developed technology integration partnerships with many of today’s top software and Internet solutions platforms, solutions which are all enhanced by integrating Data-as-a-Service capabilities from StrikeIron.

Expect More Cloudwashing in 2012

  
  
dogwashHave we gotten to the point where almost everything delivered over the Internet is considered "Cloud"? In fact, now it doesn't even have to be delivered over the Internet, as "Private Clouds" are quickly becoming a catch-all phrase to market older software and hardware products while simultaneously jumping on the Cloud bandwagon. After all, almost every IT management survey these days is indicating the "Cloud" as the key computing platform for quite some time to come. Many vendors, even deceptively at times, are rewriting collateral to match the trend.

While some will say that there is no true definition of Cloud and they can therefore "Cloud-promote" as they please, there are things an astute buyer should look for when determine if a product or service is actually "Cloud-like", especially since Cloudwashing might very well reach its crescendo this year.

For example, there should be a multi-tenant architecture allowing the underlying software resources to be shared transparently. There should also be a usage-based metering and billing business model, so costs of resource utilization matches actual use across a community of users.

There should also be linear scalability, a virtualized infrastructure, and an abstraction away from any underlying hardware and software complexity. In other words, reduced complexity is generally proportional to how "Cloud" a given software service is likely to be. As an example, our IronCloud platform that delivers commercial data-as-a-service products is a usage-based billed service that adheres to all of these principles.

Even though it is true that there are scenarios where a "Private Cloud" makes sense, it should still adhere to the above characteristics of a Cloud, even if it is limited to a single organization and resources are being shared across that organization in a true multi-tenant sense. But if you start to hear terms like "upgrade path", "required hardware", "required OS", "appliance", and so forth, very likely the use of the word "Cloud" has been liberally applied to describe the product or service.

So the next time someone says "to the Cloud!", make sure that is where you are really headed.

StrikeIron Announces SAP Business ByDesign Integration

  
  
StrikeIron is excited to announce its inclusion in SAP's PartnerEdge Program and the integration of our Cloud-based Web service product offerings into SAP's Business ByDesign business management solution. This integration and partnership enables us to broaden access of our Contact Record Verification Suite into the ecosystem of SAP Business ByDesign, SAP's fully integrated business management solution. SAP Business ByDesign is delivered on-demand and dedicated to companies in the small and midsize enterprise (SME) market, as well as to subsidiaries of large enterprises running SAP solutions.

Here is a YouTube video demonstration showing StrikeIron's Cloud-based Reverse Phone and Address Lookup Web Service integrated into SAP's Business ByDesign. The entire workflow is demonstrated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB5OJArHWBQ

To read the full release: http://bit.ly/zD6jHV

StrikeIron wins 2012 Cloud Awards

  
  
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We are excited to announce today that we won two of the 2012 Cloud Awards. We won "Best Cloud Infrastructure" and "Cloud Computing Company of the Year". We were chosen out of a field of almost 200 organizations. 

Screencast - SAP Business ByDesign Integration of StrikeIron

  
  
Technology Blogs - Blog RankingsSAP Business ByDesign is a comprehensive, integrated SAAS business management suite that can run the entire information chain of a business, including financials, human resources, sales, procurement, customer service and supply chain.

In its partnership with SAP, StrikeIron helps deliver additional functionality to the Business ByDesign offering in the form of pre-integrated SOAP-based Web services and SAP's "enterprise mashup" capabilities. This enables end user personalization and key user adaptation without requiring development skills.

In the following screencast, you can see a demonstration that utilizes StrikeIron's Cloud-based Reverse Phone and Address Lookup Web Service, integrated into SAP's Business ByDesign product by the SAP team. The entire workflow is demonstrated:

Be sure to turn up the volume!
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Don’t be an aaS

  
  
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Much of cloud computing terminology is based on the notion of ‘as a Service’ (or ‘aaS’).

Enterprise Cloud Adoption Accelerates - Four Reasons Why

  
  
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In a report last week, the Open Data Center Alliance published that its members plan to triple Cloud deployments in the next two years according to a recent membership survey. This significantly outpaces the adoption forecasts from several different analyst firms and is another indicator where the I.T. industry is headed.

Of course, there are different ways to measure Cloud adoption, and while adoption rates may always be debated, there is little question of the Cloud's growing significance in I.T. Even though some Cloud forecasts combine infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) with Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) and others keep them separate, in either case the trending is upward.

So here are four primary reasons why this trend is occurring and likely to continue for a long time to come:

- Cost. When deploying to the Cloud, one only has to deploy the needed I.T. resources at any given time. Capacity can be added or reduced as needed and whenever necessary. With this cost-savings "elastic" approach, usage spikes can be handled as well as increased resource demand over time. It's the difference between renting a server by-the-minute versus committing to two-year contracts with a data center provider at maximum capacity requirements. The latter, traditional approach front-loads application costs and requires significant capital expenditure. These heavy up-front costs go away in pay-for-what-you-use Cloud scenarios, including the ability to get things up and running more cheaply. Many startups deploying to the Cloud are spending less money on hardware and software investments than just a few years ago and getting up and running faster.

- Abstraction. Cloud deployments hide the details of the hardware, bandwidth resourcing, underlying software, load management, and ongoing maintenance of the given platform. This frees up resources to focus on one's own business rather than endless architecture meetings and decisions - unnecessary for a large majority of applications. This is why Salesforce.com has found success. Customers no longer have to deal with software upgrades for sales people, database choices, syncing data from laptops to servers, hardware deployment decisions, etc. It's just easier in a Cloud SAAS model.

- Innovation. An organization can leverage the innovation and expertise of those who specialize in a given Cloud-based platform such as within data-as-a-service offerings like StrikeIron provides. This continual innovation can be leveraged as a Cloud platform becomes more advanced without any effort of the organization's own resources. The platform improves daily, and these incremental improvements are put to use immediately for the benefit of customers and without company-wide software upgrades and rollouts. Instead, it's built-in and essentially automatic with the Cloud model. Another example is Amazon's EC2, where an increasing number of new features and capabilities can be leveraged without application redeployment.

- Platform Independence. When deploying to the Cloud, many different types of devices and clients can leverage the application via APIs or other interfaces, from PCs, tablets, smart phones, and other systems, as all communication between machines is via the ubiquitous Web, available just about any time anywhere. This makes interoperability easier, and extensive "middleware" investments of the past to make things work together can be dramatically reduced. This is one of the primary reasons why tablets such as the iPad for example have grown considerably in adoption now versus ten years ago – they work with the Cloud and can access a broad array of useful applications from just about anywhere.

These benefits of the Cloud aren't going away, and this is why the adoption trend is accelerating upward.

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