IBM API Connect Review

Provides good security and scales to quite a large number of products but needs to stabilize Version 2018 rapidly. Still too many fixpacks and outstanding issues

How has it helped my organization?

This solution enabled our business to get our solutions quite fast. Instead of waiting for weeks, or even months in some cases, it actually helped the movement from a bimodal to a faster depth of solution in a matter of the rate at which the organization could change. It was not a technological hindrance, it was more a change management aspect of the people that kept the movement back. But, we proved that the technology can keep up, it's the people that have to change faster. The fact that the product can provide both security and scale to quite a large number of products, is basically the reason why we chose it, and that's what we like about it.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the security we get from this solution. I know of a bank that uses it to ensure that everything is secure. The second feature I like is the retail environment, where we actually want to be able to provide as many suppliers and consumers with APIs as possible. If you are well-trained in the writing of RESTful API's, you can actually publish an API in a matter of minutes, test it, and publish it.

What needs improvement?

It is still a very new product. We're still finding our feet on the latest version of it because it gives you the capability to move into the cloud. We have not yet taken that leap into cloud because of the uncertainty of what the moving parts are, and that's why we'll have to wait and see. I would like to see more stability, however, and I do believe the newer version will offer that.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for four years now, since 2015.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The new version is very unstable. There are a lot of fix patches and a host of known errors. They've started it on their website. So we're waiting for some of that to stabilize before we continue, but we're working around that as far as possible. The old version 5 was quite stable. We were able to put a lot of business commercial APIs in place. It is actually being monetized, and the guys are making money out of that. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a robust system that is easily scalable. When it comes to the amount of users, it all depends on how you tackle the implementation, because in the first case, we basically had people that's running the infrastructure, setting the infrastructure up, and there you need a number of roles to set up the ecosystem itself. Then you must have the API providers. That could be including some business people as well as some testing people. And then obviously the running of it is basically minimal. With the new approach, we have very few people that can actually do the job. You have to, on a case-by-case, request time from people to do some work for you. There's no dedicated staff. The whole business approach and the whole implementation approach varies from organization to organization.

We plan to increase usage because if you want to make a business digital, that is one of the routes to go. Obviously, if you want to get mobility included in your portfolio of services, you have to go that route.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've had no hassles with IBM when it comes to technical support. Whenever I log a PMR, they respond. In one instance they actually drove a guy in from their site to come and do a site visit. In another case they flew a guy in from Germany. They know that they have us as a customer and that's why they provide us with good support.

How was the initial setup?

It is not too difficult to work on the solution itself, but to get it to fit within the organization, is something else. There is a vast difference between business models, between a banking setup and a retail setup. One must, first of all, get the business-aligned, because today business plays a bigger role than in the past. With APIs, it's inside-out thinking, meaning that business owners of the data will have to decide how they're going to do it, which is a change in some organizations where IT normally drives the technology. Now, all of a sudden, you have to tell the business, "You have to make decisions which IT will enable".

We used a team of people to implement the solution, and the first time we installed it, we had to pivot twice. All in all, it took us six months, and we had a dedicated team of about 15 people to do it. Once we'd pivoted twice and experimented with it, it took us approximately five months to get it up and going. The latest product, the new iteration, is run through a project, which doesn't have dedicated staff, and it has been ongoing for almost 13 months now. We're not yet done with pivot one.

What about the implementation team?

We used IBM directly because we bought the product from them. We basically got them onsite to explain what their blueprint meant. The documentation was quite good, so all we had to do is get them to come and agree with the pattern we've selected. Now we're still finding our feet, experimenting and making up our minds.

What was our ROI?

We do see an ROI, because, in the past, we could not monetize services. Now we can sell our data. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The basic appraisal based on the two models is available on their website. The one is PVU-based and the other one is consumption-based. But that is a ballpark figure. Obviously, when you engage with them in a contract, they can negotiate. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did evaluate a lot of other options. We were led by Gartner and Forrester with regards to that, and then we did site visits to other companies that implemented products, and we had a look at their solution. We spoke to some of their staff. Based on that, we did the due diligence, and then we selected the product. This solution came out on top.

What other advice do I have?

The product itself delivers on what is documented and we don't need any additional features. Currently, there are some features that are not working because of known errors. I would like to see an improvement in the stability, however. Once we've got it stable, we can push the limits. We can see what works and what doesn't work, and then we can comment on what is required for the future. I will, therefore, rate this a seven out of ten.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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