Innovator Spotlight: Innotas - APIs for Critical Visibility and Better Business Decisions
Innotas is a leading provider of cloud solutions for IT Management. The company helps IT managers align their resources, budgets, and time with strategic business objectives through the Innotas Project Portfolio Management and Application Portfolio Management solutions, both delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS). Since it was founded in 2006, Innotas has been committed to helping CIOs and IT management gain visibility across initiatives and sustain existing operations.
Tim Madewell, Innotas senior vice president of services, spoke with Apigee about the Innotas API and how they use Apigee to gain critical visibility and make better business decisions.
What is Innotas' API strategy?
We offer an API that is different than many APIs today. Instead of using an API to expose our back-end data or Web services, the Innotas API was built to enable our customers to easily integrate the Innotas IT governance solutions with their back-end CRM, HR and billing systems. Providing an API where customers can ‘come and get it’ has worked especially well for our large customers, who often have the resources to take the API and run with it to make the integrations happen. We also now offer a turnkey platform in which we build and maintain the integrations for our customers.
What opportunity were you addressing with this API?
We had a compelling event – a customer needed it. In the early days of our company, our average customer size was 25-30 users. But as we started to grow and the SaaS market became more mature, we started working with larger enterprise customers that required a level of integration with their back-end CRM, HR, and billing systems.
So we published our API to meet the needs of a large division of a F1000 customer. In hindsight, offering an API for integration was a great decision early on - it gave our customers a lot more flexibility, including writing the process orchestration around our API to meet the specific requirements of their organization.
How has the Innotas API evolved?
We offered a SOAP API as the first version, but now we’re evolving. In August of 2011, we launched our integration platform where we will build, deploy and manage the integrations for our customers. Our new platform will be powered by REST APIs.
How do you work with Apigee?
Apigee is our API cockpit, where we can view and manage details about our APIs, and use this information to make informed business decisions. We started working with Apigee Enterprise shortly after we published our API to give us visibility and control over our API usage and provide a consistent level of service to thousands of clients on a single SaaS platform.
Initially, we were primarily using Apigee Gateway as a solution to help us understand who is making API calls, what entity they are hitting, how often, etc. This detailed visibility into our API usage helps us quickly triage and troubleshoot as required. Over time, we extended our use of Apigee to include load balancing and analytics.
How do you Use Apigee Analytics?
Apigee's real-time analytics is my executive dashboard for operations. I use the analytics all the time see what's happening – it's the first place I go to see integration traffic, even before I look at my real-time monitors. Just yesterday an outage triggered, and with Apigee's analytics, I could identify the root cause in about a minute.
One of our key requirements has always been visibility…you can’t govern what you can’t see. Before we started using Apigee's analytics, all of our customers' activity was intermingled in the system logs with all the other system-generated events. Figuring out who is doing what was almost impossible and it was difficult to track back the events that were related off of just a user ID – which is the wrong key. We needed the visibility to be able to relate calls together and construct what happened with meaningful data.
Once we had this, our second evolution was around maintenance and support. Before, when a customer called and said “it’s not working right” all we could say was “go look at your code.” But with API analytics we can capture the payload – trap the data for the customer – and use our API debugging tools to help them ID the problem message.
We also use API trend reporting at a macro level over time - common calls, common integration. This gets fed into product management, sales, and performance tuning to make the product better.
What benefits have you gained from Apigee?
Apigee is our eyes and ears for our APIs. The visibility we get into customer usage has definitely enabled us to better manage costs and efficiencies. The daily Apigee data help us understand customer stickiness and retention – which has helped us maintain a consistent 90 percent renewal rate. And understanding customer usage trends and patterns has absolutely helped us make more informed business decisions.