What is our primary use case?
Our primary use for this solution is to manage API, which is important to our business model and design of what we do as consultants. I found WSO2 (Web Services Oxygen Tank) was a platform that I could easily work on. All the building practices have to do with API, so when I needed a platform that could manage our API with flexibility, this was our best opportunity. It also leaves room for growth as a solution.
How has it helped my organization?
The product has improved our organization by simply allowing us to do things now in ways we could not do before we started using it. In the future, it will also allow us to offer expanded options to our clients.
What is most valuable?
I don't know that there is one single valuable feature. We chose the solution because it could integrate and solve multiple issues. Building blocks and all the products we need to integrate can be attached. That capability in the architecture makes it very flexible. Control is possible over even little things like that fact that I can enable and disable the logs.
The logs are well detailed and if I'm troubleshooting, it makes troubleshooting quite easier. I can test the loads and see every detail, their inquires, and their response. I think the recent changes in the WSO2 also make orchestration better. That is designing and orchestrating components is quite easy. For me, the fact that it's built upon TomCat makes everything easier for me. These are all very valuable features.
What needs improvement?
It is a very good product, but still, there are some things I think can be improved. I think the interface is the one that comes to mind first. The interface should be much more user-friendly and modern.
If you look at other products and their modern user interfaces, you could see what the other companies are doing and what you could be doing. A nice look and feel is something that can impress a user, and it can be trendy and inviting. I think the user interface for now for the WSO2 is not really there yet. The one complaint I get from our business team is the same: they find it not that user-friendly and this makes it more difficult for them to use. It takes some experience to get around.
Another feature which I love but can also be improved is usability in terms of switching across the different components of the product. You could have just the user management console and some adjustment in design would make us have less trouble navigating. But the components are all separate. You have to access the publisher console, and then they have a flash publisher. Then you have the store, and more. It is just many things you have to know.
So there are different interfaces. I would love a situation where you should be able to just have a single interface where you're executing your role per security. Depending on the role you have, will determine what you can do. I don't have to switch across different interfaces before I could access the publisher using the same roles if I am assigned the privilege.
Lastly, another feature I think is needed is in the area of customization. Before you can make any custom changes, you have to be very technical. But it's a bit difficult to make changes depending on what you need to accomplish. The documentation is also not that straight forward and could use work.
You have to make a whole lot of changes to the framework. It's a framework, which I think is something that can be more efficient. It's not the common framework that you see in today's development as we have in other products. It is a custom framework that we use for the product.
I think for now that really all of the problems are summarized by the interface. They need to invest more on the front end. I know sometimes people will want to work as a back-end guy and that should remain. I think they should invest more on the user interface, user experience to make it better for less technical people.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using the solution for about five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I would rate the stability good because the building block that we used was TomCat and I know TomCat. For me, it is very simple work with and very stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
As far as scalability, we always use the products on a high demand development because I know the initial communications that I've experienced for myself with TomCat. Because I worked with TomCat for a number of years and I know that TomCat has a maximum capacity. But I didn't know how WS02 manages and used the ability of all its feature pool, so I won't be able to give a comment on that. But this is something we will explore more in our next development project. There is one new project that we have that is going to require a very high demand environment.
We design applications to appease the capabilities of the environment and the client. We pick up on stability by evaluating data transactions per second. So if I get to use the API in more of the client environments and with different configurations then I would know more. But I don't think we have even yet pushed it to its potential.
How are customer service and technical support?
I have not had to contact technical support as essentially I am technical support. So far, everything is good and I haven't had any reason to contact them.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup for a technical person like myself is not difficult. Once you download the installation, all you do is start from the dependencies, which is from the JAVA and the database. I think for me, the setup is pretty straightforward and will be for other technical people.
What about the implementation team?
We do all of our own installations and installations for our clients as well.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
WS02 is really the first API manager I have used, or I have used API management but not with this kind of flexibility. In terms of know-how and getting to know about the API Manager, we currently only use it only internally. We do some consulting, and so we tried other solutions to solve other problems for them and ourselves. We tried some telecommunications products, but they did not have an application that manages the API. We tried Apache Camel. Out of several different products, I was excited to see a similar application that would manage API as well. Several of the other products I found pretty easy to use, but that is not the main criteria. Maybe those products would be useful for consulting and what we offer clients. But this is the product that was best for the integrated solutions we needed.
What other advice do I have?
Right now we are using only the main part of the product. It is an internal application only for deployment at our company at the moment. We haven't deployed the product across to clients for now because they will have to be very technical, and it is almost the nature of clients who use consultants that they may not always be the most technical or want to use difficult products.
The experience we are building internally is something we do look forward to sharing. We do have one client who is considering the product. They want to use it similar to how we do as a local API, and we intend to expose it as a possible solution in our business plan for them. We are open to having new clients use it in the near future.
The advice I have for any of the organizations or companies looking for an API manager is that they, first of all, verify the building block before selecting a product. For me it is Apache, and I know the amount of work that goes towards Apache, how much has to go into TomCat. If we take on clients with a similar need it would make support rather easy for us to provide for them and we can be very efficient.
Secondly, the product is an open-source community build-up. The WS02 organization is its own company providing support. I grew with the product from the time I started to develop with it until now. I've been able to see the changes and how it has evolved. I know in WS02 ESB, now its called Enterprise Integrations. It shows its a growing community, it shows that it has the potential to be a great community. We can work with it for a long time as well as incorporate solutions in the technology that is out there today.
The longevity and growth of the product can help people to trust and use the product.
On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate it an eight. It is an eight and not a ten because of the interface. But it is an eight, which is a good rating because I haven't seen any other vendor that provides a similar platform. You can use the platform directly or you can operate on the platform using the exposed API. I think that makes an exciting API that you can make use of in many different ways. There is no competitor that has more connections or offers such a platform.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.