In this post I will take a deeper dive into one of the key enablers for Digital Transformation, the REST API. I will cover our strategy for utilizing it in our products and provide some example of how it is utilized to enable the Smart Data Center.
Application Program Interface, API, is software that allows applications to talk to each other. APIs have been an essential part of software development since the earliest days of programming. Today, modern, web based, open APIs are connecting more than code. APIs are a key driver for digital transformation where everything and everyone is connected. APIs support interoperability and design modularity and help improve the way systems and solutions exchange information, invoke business logic, and execute transactions.
Hitachi’s developers are reimagining core systems as microservices, building APIs using modern RESTful architectures, and taking advantage of robust, off-the-shelf API management platforms. REST stands for “representational state transfer.” APIs built according to REST architectural standards are stateless, which means that neither the client nor the server need to remember any previous state to satisfy it. Stateless components can be freely redeployed if something fails, and they can scale to accommodate load changes. REST enables plain-text exchanges of data assets. It also makes it possible to inherit security policies from an underlying transport mechanism. REST APIs provide a simplified approach to deliver better performance and faster paths to develop, deploy, and organize. Restful APIs are available in our Hitachi Content Platforms, Pentaho analytics, Hitachi Unified Compute Converged, Hyper Converged, and Rack platforms, REAN cloud, and LUMADA which is our IoT platform.
A REST API is built directly into our VSP storage controllers. We increased the memory and CPU in the controller specifically to support the REST API running natively in the controller. This gives us the opportunity to not only connect with other vendor’s management stacks, but also apply analytics and machine learning and automate deployment of resources through REST APIs. Here are some examples of how this API strategy brings operational benefits to the Smart Data Center.
Hitachi Vantara has developed an analytics tool, Hitachi Infrastructure Analytics Advisor (HIAA) that can provide predictive analytics by mining telemetry data from servers, storage appliances, networking systems and virtual machines to optimize performance, troubleshoot issues and forecast when a business may need to buy new storage systems. There are 77 performance metrics that we can provide via REST API over IP connections. Based on an analysis of these metrics the analytics tool can determine the right actions to take, then launch into an automation tool to invoke the appropriate services to execute that action.
The automation tool, Hitachi Automation Director (HAD), contains a catalog of templates that can automatically orchestrate the delivery and management of IT resources. The analytics tool communicates with the automation tool, through a REST API, to select a template, fill in the parameters and request deployment of resources, which is done automatically. During the execution, the automation tool may need to communicate with third party switches, virtual machines, containers or public cloud through their APIs. When one considers all the tedious steps required to request and deploy storage, networking, hypervisor, and application services for hundreds or even thousands of users, you can see how automation can reduce days of work downs to minutes.
Policy based Copy Management
Since most data is backed up and copied; a copy data management platform is available to simplify creating copies and managing policy-based workflows that support business functions with controlled copies of data. Hitachi Vantara provides a Hitachi Data Instance Director which the automation tool can invoke to deploy the copy workload and set up and enforce data protection SLA policies through REST APIs.
Hitachi Automation Director’s REST API is open and available for working with third party resources. Enhancements to the software include integration with IT service management (ITSM) tools, including the ServiceNow platform, for better resource tracking and improved REST API integration for working with third-party resources. Hitachi Automation Director creates workflows in Service Now, approval can be administrator driven or driven by the Automation Director. The Automation Director executes the changes and updates the ticket.
Third Party and Home Grown Services
Hitachi Automation Director encourages working with third party services by providing a design studio, and a developer community site. Service Builder is the design studio where users have the flexibility to create their own service template to fit their own environment, operation policy and workflow. They are provided the capability to leverage 3rdparty or home grown tools.
Hitachi Vantara has launched the Hitachi Automation Director (HAD) Developer Community site.
It is available to external users. Here Hitachi Vantara shares sample service templates(more than 30 content packs), prototypes, how to use Hitachi Automation Director, Q&A, etc. Here we will be collaborating with customers / partners to develop more content.
Call Home Monitoring
Other uses of REST APIs include our call-home monitoring system, Hi-Track. which has been re-coded to use our native REST APIs to collect information about the storage systems and report that back to our support teams. Hi-Track provides 24/7 monitoring for early alerting and insight to help your storage system run at peak efficiency. Only authorized Hitachi Vantara support specialists may establish a connection with your site, and only by using the Hitachi Vantara internal network. Secure access with encryption and authentication keeps error and configuration information tightly controlled, and your production data can never be accessed.
We have a Hitachi Storage Plug-in for Containers that integrates us with Docker and thereby with Kubernetes and Docker Swarm. This Plug-in is built on the REST API that is also available to customers to integrate with. This plug- in retains the state of the storage as containers are spun up and down. Without this, the storage for a container would disappear when the container goes away.
The VSP storage configuration tool, Hitachi Storage Advisor, can be accessed through software on an external virtual or physical server via the REST API.
The use of REST APIs is key to the integration of infrastructure, software, and analytics to create an intelligent data center. This is a summary of the primary benefits of our API strategy for an intelligent data center.
A Rest API built directly in our VSP controller provides connection with other vendor’s management stacks, and enables the application of analytics and machine learning for automated deployment of resources
An analytics tool, Hitachi Infrastructure Analytics Advisor, can provide predictive analytics by mining telemetry data from servers, storage appliances, networking systems and virtual machines to optimize performance, troubleshoot issues and forecast when a business may need to buy new storage systems.
An automation tool, Hitachi Automation Director, with a catalog of templates that can automatically orchestrate the delivery and management of IT resources.
A copy data management platform, Hitachi Data Instance Director, which can be invoked by the automation tool to simplify creating copies and managing policy-based workflows that support business functions with controlled copies of data.
Hitachi Automation Director’s REST API is open and available for working with third party resources like IT service management (ITSM) tools, including the ServiceNow platform, for better resource tracking and improved integration with third-party resources.
Hitachi Automation Director encourages working with third party services by providing a design studio, and a developer community site where users have the flexibility to create their own service template to fit their own environment, operation policy and workflow.
Other uses include call home monitoring, container plug-ins, and VSP configuration management from external systems. The list of plug-ins, utilities, and extensions will grow as the digital data center eco system grows.
Reduce workloads from days to minutes
Reduce errors resulting from tedious manual work
Reduce the need for skilled IT staff
Optimize use of IT resources
Increase speed of resolution to customer requests
Effective Outage Management with quicker return to service
Customize to fit their specific environment
Improve forecasting of future resource requirements
Nathan Moffit, Hitachi Vantara senior director of infrastructure, sums up our API strategy as Follows:
“Hitachi’s management strategy is based around the idea of a shared and open API architecture that allows us to simplify transmission of data across our suite of management tools & 3rdparty tools. Everything we have is API-based so that we can draw information in from other sources to create a more intelligent solution, but we can also pass information out if we’re not the master in the environment, so we can make other things smarter. In addition, our goal is to enrich our ‘library’ of 3rdparty device API information so that we can capture analytics from a broad range of devices & interact with them. We are taking a very vendor-neutral approach as we recognize that there is a much broader opportunity to deliver better solutions if we integrate with more vendors and partners.”