Businesses curious about exposing system services and data to the outside world can now test the idea with a free offer from 3scale for managing publicly exposed APIs.
"We're trying to enable as many people as possible to use APIs," said 3scale CEO Steven Willmott. "Its not completely altruistic. Hopefully, some will find the API is really useful and they will start using our paid services. But we very much have the realization that not everyone will pay, and that is a good thing."
The APIcast can host up to 50,000 transactions a day at no cost.
Publicly exposing APIs (application programming interfaces) allows third-party applications and individuals to access services and data from over the network. The practice has been increasingly popular as Internet services such as Twitter expose their data by way of APIs so they can be used by other apps.
"If you go back a few years, I don't think many [organizations] thought about opening their systems to the world at large -- it's almost an anathema from a security perspective," Willmott said. "But the Web has changed fundamentally. Most people are not going only to websites. They have mobile applications. They expect companies to be embedded whenever they are needed. It makes sense for a company to offer APIs to reach customers wherever they are."
The company 3scale is a provider of API management software. Its primary product, the 3scale Cloud API Gateway Service, provides a set of tools for controlling APIs, offering management functions such as controlling access and limiting traffic for each individual user. It also provides a summary, through a dashboard, of how heavily the API is used. The software, which runs with the Nginx or Varnish Web server software, is installed on the user's Internet-facing servers, or on third-party content delivery network services.
The free hosted service allows users to manage low volume production APIs, perhaps one from a smaller organization or one from a business that wants to test a new service before bringing it in-house. Third-party API calls are directed to APIcast, which redirects the calls back to the organization's servers.
Founded in 2009, 3scale manages more than 450 APIs, including some by Coldwell Banker, Johnson Controls, the Sita transportation logistics company, the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of California, Berkeley, and Wine.com, among others.
The company's paid services offer additional API management features and service level agreements. An organization conducting 500,000 transactions a day would pay about $250 a month, Willmott said.
The company also runs the APIs.io search engine.