The tech press often treats Verizon as though it were all “Verizon Wireless,” the marketer of cool devices and monthly data plans.
At its center, Verizon is a communications company, and at the heart of modern data communications today is the API.
Verizon operates a cloud service provider, and you’d expect to find several API service hosts residing there, providing connectivity for web applications to access data and perform critical functions.
But this morning, the part of the company that provides connections to telephone carriers and other partners took a bolder step: putting the Verizon brand on an API portal for business.
Granted, Verizon did not make the portal itself. It’s built by a firm called DreamFactory, which has provided APIs as back-end services for some time.
What this new partnership does, however, is locate the product in a prominent position in Verizon’s marketplace for business, and assert its viability with the Verizon brand.
“As developers are creating the new applications that are riding over different infrastructures — whether you’re talking Internet of Things, machine-to-machine, or networking in general — they want to create those applications in the most effective and efficient way possible,” said Dawayne Young, who directs platforms and applications for Verizon Partner Solutions, in an interview with CMSWire.
“Partner Solutions” is the new phrase for Verizon’s wholesale division — the part that sells its core commodities, including cloud functionality, to service providers for resale. When an app or service finds its way to an online marketplace such as Salesforce’s, it isn’t typically endorsed by the marketplace proprietor.
This is not the case with DreamFactory, whose online logo shares the banner with Verizon just as proudly as if they were sponsoring an IndyCar together.
“We see this DreamFactory partnership as a means to drive and innovate, and help developers to leverage our infrastructure-as-a-service,” said Young, “as well as everything else that DreamFactory brings to the table. It’s really a seamless marriage.”
By bringing something to the table, Young referred to a data connectivity service — more specifically, a way for an organization’s Web developers to write apps for small devices that access existing corporate data by way of Verizon’s cloud.
Here’s the setup: Corporate data resides where it resides — this is not about moving data-at-rest into a public cloud if it’s not already there. DreamFactory produces a service that connects to that data, wherever it resides, securely.
It uses both SQL and NoSQL database methods on the server side to contact that data and cache it within services that do reside on Verizon’s cloud, but only in batches and only on an as-needed basis.
DreamFactory makes a set of standard API functions that are ready-to-use without custom coding. Once DreamFactory connects with the database on the back end, developers can integrate the existing API calls into their apps.
The goal here is to enable developers to produce working, data-driven smartphone or tablet apps with only about a day’s work.
DreamFactory CEO Bill Appleton provided CMSWire with a use case: “If you’ve got an enterprise that needs to mobilize legacy data ... they can put the REST API back-end on Verizon Cloud, hook up with a secure connection to legacy data that may be running on their legacy data centers, on-premises.
“They then use the horsepower of Verizon Cloud to mobilize it,” Appleton continued, “and to provide a secure and safe connection to expose part of that data for mobile apps outside of their firewall.”
Nothing ‘Restful’ About It
“API” is a strange enough term without being paired with the word “REST.”
In general usage today, “REST” refers to a discrete back-end service that responds to requests from client apps on a network, using a Web-based protocol. It’s a request/response protocol that is not bound to any specific application. In fact, the back end doesn’t really care one whit about the front end.
When you hear the term “decoupled” to describe this relationship, that’s essentially what it means. A REST API can serve as a kind of automatic library for any front-end app that knows how to place the right requests and fill out the right forms in the proper format and syntax.
DreamFactory’s REST API, for the most part, already exists. So Verizon’s co-branded service is not about hosting custom APIs; that’s for a service like Apigee.
The Verizon-DreamFactory service is about data connectivity, which is what a sizable plurality of corporate APIs end up being about anyway.
“It would be really hard to ask developers to come on-board and essentially build their own back ends,” said DreamFactory’s Appleton. “That’s the problem we’re trying to get away from. We want to make it really easy for them to start building meaningful applications out of these services.”
The co-branded Verizon-DreamFactory API portal went live Wednesday morning, and is now available.