API

The Art of Storytelling with Data

The Art of Storytelling with Data

People enjoy stories. Everyone likes listening to stories, reading stories, and watching stories unfold on TV or at the movies. Stories are the natural mode in which the brain processes information. At a fundamental level, stories are what make us human, and we can use stories to purposely increase engagement when we communicate with others – making them more likely to trust, understand, and remember us. The principle of storytelling engagement applies not only to individuals, but also to businesses. Storytelling is a powerful communication tool that businesses need to examine more closely. As Jonathan Gottschall noted in his book The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, “We are, as a species, addicted to stories. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.”

The Science Behind Storytelling

When we listen to presentations with boring bulleted points, certain parts of the brain get activated.

Broca's area and Wernicke's area

Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area.

Scientists call these areas Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Overall, these areas engage the language processing parts of the brain that decode words into meaning. However, when storytelling is involved, our brains become more stimulated. On the onset of a story the brain initially engages the Broca and Wernicke areas just as if it were listening to someone read a bulleted list of items, but as the story becomes progressively more engaging, other areas of the brain, such as the motor, sensory, and frontal cortices light up.

It’s possible to stimulate many parts of the brain with a well-told story. This is possible because, when listening to a story, in addition to the language processing parts in the brain becoming active, other parts of the brain that would be used if we were actually experiencing the events of the story become active as well. With this level of brain activity, people are more intellectually and emotionally invested in the story and the storyteller. Because people are experiencing a more profound brain event, they enjoy the experience more, understand the information at a deeper level, and retain the information for a longer period of time. With this knowledge, businesses can develop a firmer connection with clients and even prospective clients by telling them the story behind their company’s data.

Parts of the brain that are stimulated when listening to a story.

Parts of the brain that are stimulated when listening to a story.

Telling Stories with Data

All business and sales associates know that a good story resonates with clients. Stories help bridge the distance between quantitative data and people who must make difficult business decisions based on an

Little Red Riding Hood

Stories are memorable.

analysis of data. Michael Bostock, the data visualization and storytelling guru, notes that visualizations are how you can go about making an “abstract idea more concrete.” The core data used to create your visualizations can then act as the foundation of your story.  The story, like a novel, is the main drive of information – pictures or visualizations are merely decorative. The story is what makes clients care about and engage with your data. In fact, stories are the most effective way to contextualize data and interact with clients on an intellectual level. Structured narratives are sense-making devices that explain the over-arching patterns of data to clients. That’s why an over-reliance on data visualizations can hurt businesses when it comes to satisfactorily explaining data. Visualizations are excellent tools for data analysis, but visualizations are not self-contained explanations of data, although they can be an important step in understanding a set of data. Introducing a good story on the heels of your visualizations can work wonders in explaining data and eliciting trust in your business and data analysis skills.

Tips for Creating Customized Stories for Clients

  1. Identify the audience. As a storyteller, you naturally adjust your stories to fit your audience. When telling a story to a client you’ve just met, you use different wording and insert more explanatory information than if you were telling the same story to a colleague.
  2. Identify how you will structure the story – focus on the data points will you emphasize to your clients. Bostock urges data scientists (and data storytellers) to ground their data examples and explanations with facts, noting that “By demonstrating real-world usage, you strengthen the argument” and the story.
  3. Use visualizations to complement your story, but not to tell your story. Analytics tools are now ubiquitous, and so are visualizations, especially bar graphs, pie charts, tables, and line graphs. These tools focus on data exploration, not on explaining data or in creating an engaging, storytelling_pull_quotemeaningful story.
  4. Use fresh data.
  5. Reveal patterns. Patterns help explain data and illuminate what is special about each data set.
  6. Remember best-selling author and marketer, Seth Godin’s wise assessment that “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Storytelling with SlashDB

SlashDB

SlashDB has made it our mission to make data retrieval a highly accessible, searchable, and intuitive process. Unlike data extracts, SlashDB API is an automated, live link to your business’ databases, allowing for faster and the most up to date access to data, so you can construct the most relevant and engaging story. 

Contact us at SlashDB and we’ll work with you to find the best API add-on configuration for your business and storytelling needs.

SlashDB and Data Analysis

SlashDB and Data Analysis

An increasingly popular trend in IT and business intelligence is data analysis. At SlashDB, we celebrate this trend as it contributes to the rising awareness of data’s amazing capabilities. Data analysis tools allow for the construction of predictive models that enable businesses to anticipate the needs of their customers – changing customer service into a proactive rather than reactive element.

Recent advances have made data analysis tools both more affordable and more precise in their predictions. To help predictive models reach their full potential, new data analysis tools are adding API technology to help interpret and organize complex un-structured and real-time data, as well as to support in-house development of data analysis apps.

Pairing Data Analysis and APIs

Pairing data analysis tools with APIs enables more efficient and in-depth data collection. APIs not only help extract more specific data than ever before, they also help expose real-time data for more precise and up-to-date predictive models – predicting trends and modifications ahead of the competition.

Combining data analysis tools with APIs helps businesses create more detailed and consumer-specific predictive
models and applications. These predictive models and apps help businesses to fully gauge the desires and needs of their customers – enabling proactive customer support and, in turn, higher customer satisfaction.

Data analysis tools paired with APIs are helping businesses achieve higher revenue than ever before by speeding up and simplifying data collection. This is a trend that businesses simply cannot afford to miss out on. The best way to get the most out of your data analysis tools, and keep up with the competition, is to adopt an API add-on to streamline data extraction.

Case in Point – SlashDB in Real Life

The theories behind adopting API technology in order to increase the effectiveness of data analysis tools are informative – and well-considered – but real life examples are sometimes even better at illustrating a point. For instance, SlashDB powers APIs for Aruba Tourism Authority. Our API helps them collect valuable data and gives them heightened insight into prospective travelers’ specific interests in the island’s activities. Aruba Tourism Authority uses an attractive web application and digital content on arubashortcuts.com as a platform for gathering important data from prospective visitors.

beachfront-dinner

SlashDB captures the data from their website and seamlessly integrates it into Google Spreadsheets where it is analyzed in real time. By pairing an API with data analysis tools, Aruba Tourism Authority is able to capture and analyze data that will help them attract more visitors and increase revenue. This is an excellent example of the effectiveness and efficiency that APIs bring to data extraction and analysis.

aruba-report

SlashDB: Your Data Analysis API Solution

Adding an API add-on like SlashDB to your data analysis set-up can help you extract important data from predictive models, enabling you to meet and exceed customer expectations across multiple channels.aruba_island

At SlashDB, we focus on creating APIs with both high accessibility and heightened searchability. That’s why our API  add-on relies on a “what you see is what you get” set-up. This kind of set-up increases the speed and efficiency of data extraction. Our technology enables you to access your data through multiple platforms and creates a unique hyperlink for each individual piece of data.

Important Reasons Why You Should Pair SlashDB with Your Data Analysis Tools

  • SlashDB makes databases easily accessible from any analysis tool including (but not limited to): R Studio, Jupyter Notebook, Qlikview, Tableau, and Excel.
  • SlashDB makes working with databases as simple as working with plain files – with the added bonus that the data retains its integrity and authorizations while staying up-to-date.
  • SlashDB allows users to access and retrieve data with ease, relying on their intuition to extract the data they need rather than relying on complicated search queries.
  • With SlashDB, the content in your data analysis software or database becomes accessible through authorized web and mobile applications.SlashDB logo

SlashDB is committed to creating APIs that are highly accessible, searchable, and adaptable to other business and software tools. SlashDB’s API add-on can help streamline your business, allowing for increased profit margins and higher customer satisfaction. Contact us at SlashDB and we’ll work with you to find the best API add-on configuration for your business needs.

API Gateways – Gateways to the Future

API Gateways – Gateways to the Future

Amazon recently created a stir when they released their very own API Gateway. Their announcement generated a new interest and, in some cases, renewed interest in APIs and API gateways. At SlashDB, we’re glad for any news that stirs up API and API gateway chatter – after all APIs and databases are kind of our thing. This chatter has raised questions for some business owners – about APIs in general, API gateways more specifically, and, most importantly, how API gateways can help business.

What is an API?

First, let’s breakdown what API stands for: Application Programming Interface. That’s a great start, but what exactly is an application programming interface? It’s actually pretty simple.

Applications are software – smartphone games like Angry Birds, Applicatation Programming Interfacesocial networks like Facebook, and commonly used computer standards like Microsoft Excel are all examples of applications.

Programming is simply the code that computer scientists use to build and interact with an application.

An Interface is the landscape on which two or more different applications overlap – allowing them to communicate.

So to put it very simply – APIs allow computer scientists to interact and communicate with applications.

A good way to visualize this concept is to image an API as a helpful and untiring office intern. The intern acts as a middleman between the programmer and the application – ferrying requests from the programmer to the application and returning the requests to the programmer after a brief chat with the application.

Now that we’ve got a good idea what an API is we can focus on API gateways.

What is an API Gateway?

An API gateway sounds cool and somewhat mystical, a kind of magical portal to another land or dimension. What’s even cooler is that an APIAPI gateways gateway really does act like a portal (or, at the very least, a nifty shortcut) to important information you want to extract from your application.

Essentially, an API gateway acts as a filter – cutting through all of the API traffic to retrieve your requests quickly and efficiently.

How Will an API Gateway Help Your Business?

An API gateway will help keep you on track. An API gateway increases processing speed without impacting the performance of backend systems. Even better, an API gateway will make you more organized, efficient, and productive by helping you to get to the data you need by a more direct and secure path.

SlashDB as an API Gateway

SlashDB acts as an API gateway – a lightweight shell for any application or database that instantly provides a central access point. With SlashDB the content in your application or database becomes SlashDB logoaccessible through authorized web and mobile applications. Our technology allows you to access your data through multiple platforms and – huge bonus – creates a unique hyperlink for each individual piece of data which streamlines your ability to extract data swiftly and efficiently.

At SlashDB were committed to accessibility and that’s why our technology acts as an API add-on or gateway and implements a “what you see is what you get” set-up. SlashDB allows users to access and retrieve data with ease, relying on their intuition to extract the information they need rather than relying on complicated search queries.

SlashDB has made it our mission to transform APIs into highly accessible, searchable, and efficient workplace tools. If you think an API gateway will help streamline your business, contact us and we’ll work with you to find the best solution for your needs.

How to Prepare Your API for Holiday Traffic

How to Prepare Your API for Holiday Traffic

Did you hear that web’s fiber optic wires light up in different colors during Holiday season? Well, we are not certain that’s true, but without a doubt holiday shopping online is now more popular than ever.

Just to drive the point home, PracticalEcommerce predicts that online retail will increase by 13.9% in 2015.1 If that’s not enough to motivate you to get pull_quote_api_traffic_largeyour e-commerce API into tip-top shape – here are some stats that might convince you. According to data on Kissmetrics, 47% of people leave a website if it doesn’t load within two seconds and 79% of people will not return to a website if they are initially dissatisfied with its performance.2 And to bring it all the way home – 44% of dissatisfied visitors will also tell their friends about their dissatisfying experience.3

You should be sufficiently motivated at this point to take a close look at your API and make sure that it’s ready to meet the heavy demands of holiday shoppers. The configurations below are recommendations from SlashDB developers to help optimize the performance of your API during the holiday season.

 

Reconfiguring Your API to Optimize the User Experience

Our developers took the time to break down some useful NGINX configurations that will help prepare your API for holiday traffic. While there are many shopping_cart_scaled2factors that contribute to the overall functionality of your API, improving the configuration of your load balancing, caching, and rate limiting are three solid ways that you can improve your set-up for holiday traffic. That’s why our developers are focusing on these three configurations to improve the API user experience.

 

Load Balancing

Setting up basic load balancing in NGINX is fairly simple. All you need to do is define an upstream block with multiple servers running – these can be multiple application instances on the same machine or another server in your network. The code below shows a basic load balancing configuration in NGINX.

 

http {
    upstream slashdb_app {
        least_conn;
        server 127.0.0.1:8001 weight=3;
        server 127.0.0.1:8002;
        server 127.0.0.2:8001 backup;
    }
    server {
        listen 80;

        location /db* {
            uwsgi_pass slashdb_app;
            include uwsgi_params;
        }
    }
}

 

Load Balancing Breakdown

The code above might seem a tad intimidating for those with little experience customizing NGINX. It actually makes a lot of sense if you know what these things stand for. Take a look below to get a better understanding of how the code works to help improve your API.

upstream – assigns a name to a group of servers that will receive request traffic; referenced later in the uwsgi_pass directive

least_conn is a method used for distributing requests, other options are ip_hash, hash, least_time. If you don’t set anything yourself then the requests will automatically be distributed evenly among the servers.

weight the weight is directly proportional to the number of requests the server receives. If you set the weight to a high number then the server will receive a high number of requests. Similarly, setting the weight to a low number means that the server will receive a low number of requests.

backup flags the server as a last resort. A request will be sent if other servers are unavailable.

Caching

Another simple way to improve your API performance is to add cache. Before reaching for an advanced solution like Varnish, you should check out NGINX which serves static content very efficiently and is an incredibly capable web cache when placed in front of an application server. The NGINX configuration below proxies a WSGI (Web Server Gateway Interface) application and is similar to a regular proxy_cache.

 

server {
    listen 80 default_server;
    server_name example.com www.example.com;
    uwsgi_cache_path /var/cache/slashdb levels=1:2 keys_zone=slashdb_zone:10m inactive=5m;

    # additional cache key segments from query parameters and HTTP headers
    set $api_auth $arg_app_id$arg_app_key$http_app_id$http_app_key;
    location /db* { 
        uwsgi_pass unix:///var/run/slashdb/slashdb.sock;
        include uwsgi_params;
   
        uwsgi_cache slashdb_zone;
        uwsgi_cache_key $host$request_uri$http_authorization$cookie_auth_tkt$api_auth;
        # cache freshness
        uwsgi_cache_valid 200 302 5m;
        uwsgi_cache_valid 301 1d;
        uwsgi_cache_valid any 0;

        add_header X-Proxy-Cache $upstream_cache_status;
    } 
}

 

Cache Breakdown

The code above might seem a bit lengthy and complex, so we’ve broken it down and provided some explanations to help you feel more comfortable making these changes on your own. This is an important configuration as some locations tend to change more often than others. Using the right caching time values can dramatically reduce redundant calculations, database requests, and speed up your API.

location – URL fragment to which the cache settings apply; you can specify different setting for different parts of your API

uwsgi_cache_path

/var/cache/slashdb is the path to the directory to save cached files.
levels=1:2 sets the sub-directory structure in the cache.
keys_zone=slashdb_zone:10m is shared memory (10 MB) that stores all of the active keys and metadata in the cache.
inactive=5m sets the cache lifetime. If cached data is not accessed within 5 minutes (5m) it will be removed from the cache regardless of its freshness.

uwsgi_cache_key

$host$request_uri$http_authorization$cookie_auth_tkt$api_auth is a key used to differentiate cached files and $api_auth segments assure that each API user request is cached separately.

uwsgi_cache_valid sets the caching time for different response codes.

200 302 5m requests with status code 200 or 302 are cached for 5 minutes (5m).
301 1d sets redirects to be cached for 1 day (1d).

uwsgi_cache defines which zone (shared memory) to use for caching.

add_header adds a header to the response.

X-Proxy-Cache $upstream_cache_status header X-Proxy-Cache will tell you if  a response is HIT, MISS or BYPASS in the cache.

 

Rate Limiting

A very useful feature in NGINX is the ngx_http_req_module which is used to limit the request rate by using a ‘leaky bucket’ method that delays requests so that they are processed at a defined rate. A ‘leaky bucket’ method is useful as it provides a steady rate for requests (in the same way a leaky bucket has a steady drip, hence the name).

http {
  limit_req_zone $binary_remote_addr zone=one:10m rate=10r/s;
  server {
    location /db* {
      limit_req zone=one burst=20;
    }
}

Rate Limiting Breakdown

Rate limiting really is a great way to improve the functionality of your API. Take a look at our explanations below so that you understand the configuration changes and feel comfortable making these adjustments.

 

limit_req_zone

$binary_remote_addr in this example the remote address is used as a key for checking the rate. The key can be a combination of various attributes.
zone=one:10m is the name and the size of the zone.

rate is the desired frequency of requests per second.

limit_req sets the maximum length of a queue with delayed or ‘leaky bucket’ requests. The default setting is 0.

zone=one defines which zone (key or rate) is to be considered.
burst=20 is the allowed number of delayed or ‘leaky bucket’ requests. In this example 20 is set as the allowed number of delayed requests.

 

We hope these configurations will help you have a more relaxing and profitable fourth quarter. SlashDB wishes you a  happy holiday season and a very happy high traffic online shopping season.

 


  1. Armando Roggio, “4 Predictions for 2015 Holiday Shopping Season,” Practical  Ecommerce.com, accessed October 23, 2015. http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/92465-4-Predictions-for-2015-Holiday-Shopping-Season.
  2. Sean Work, “How Loading Time Effects Your Bottom Line,” Kissmetrics.com, accessed October 23, 2015. https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/.
  1. Ibid.
SlashDB Creates an API for Twitter Challenge

SlashDB Creates an API for Twitter Challenge

 

Slash DB is proud to share our work for API Evangelist.

Earlier this month, API Evangelist issued a Twitter challenge to create an API for Ranking Digital Rights data. We’re happy to say that we not only accepted this challenge, but succeeded in creating the API in just a few short hours. This quick turnaround was possible by using SlashDB API technology.

api_evangelist_twitter2Victor Olex, SlashDB founder and CEO, (@agilevic) wrote:

I took your Twitter challenge and created the API for Ranking Digital Rights data. The data model does not include scores for individual lines of business, but it does have all qualitative data needed to make sense of it. I did not write any data aggregation queries, but we can add those later. The whole thing works off a MySQL database model, which I designed and fed with data from the spreadsheet.                                                                                                                                                                                                 api_evangelist_quote

At SlashDB we pride ourselves on creating easy to use  APIs that can be installed quickly and efficiently. API Evangelist’s challenge played right into our element and we’re happy to note that the result was exactly what they wanted. API Evangelist wrote, “What I like about SlashDB, is it lets you navigate the resources and relationships through the generated HTML pages, and then retrieve the XML or JSON you will need.”

The next time you’re faced with the need for an API think of SlashDB. We rise to any challenge without squabble – the only thing you’ll hear from us is a single utterance –“Done.”

 

 

SlashDB Helps Aruba Win #1 Spot in Digital Marketing Index

SlashDB Helps Aruba Win #1 Spot in Digital Marketing Index

Together with ConceptFarm, a leading digital marketing agency in New York, we are delighted to share with you the recent success of our client, Aruba.com.

Caribbean & Co. reports that the happy island of Aruba ranks No. 1 out of 35 Caribbean islands for overall “destination marketing index 2015.” Aruba also ranks No. 1 out of 10 Caribbean islands for Instagram reach, boasting an impressive 23,000 followers, double the number of the runner up. The marketing index ranking was derived by a proprietary weighing of various data, including social media followings, website inbound links, 3rd party rankings, and more (…)

Solidifying its position as the most digitally innovative DMMO, the ATA recently launched The Happiness Builder – a content-rich planning experience (…)

Quick Start With SlashDB

SlashDB connects website to databaseWhen the design team at ConceptFarm outlined their ideas for Aruba’s Happiness Builder it quickly became evident that such an innovative site would need to be custom built. Featuring video clips of nearly 100 attractions housed under six categories, the site allows visitors to create and share custom video “itineraries” of their Aruba vacation, complete with personalized messages and a choice of sound tracks.

The honor of programming of the site was awarded to VT Enterprise (the company that created SlashDB) after a highly competitive Request for Proposal process. Victor Olex, founder and CEO commented:

The sheer scope of the project and the need to launch the site in time for the contest was not a job your neighborhood web developer or digital marketing agency could do by themselves. We took the challenge and delivered on every idea the creative team threw at us.

VTE’s team utilized database design methodologies found in professional enterprise information systems and coupled that with API automation from SlashDB. SlashDB provided an instant API gateway to MySQL, which was the database already in use at Aruba.com. This combination formed the bedrock of the solution and the back-end for the web application.

Focus on User Experience

Once an API layer was in place, the development team focused on delivering the rich interactive features and stunning visuals conceptualized by the creative team. HTML5, advanced Cascading Stylesheets (CSS), and the JavaScript library, AngularJS, were key components in the front-end development process. OpenStreetMap combined with styling from Stamen and Leaflet library rounded off the technology stack and allowed for the innovative special effects on the map of the island. Adds Olex:

Every time our back-end team needed to make a change to the database, SlashDB instantly provided our front-end developers with an API ready for use. In the end we found that the entire site required literally ZERO lines of code in the back-end. SlashDB truly surpassed our own expectations.

At VTE, we view the finished product as one our greatest accomplishments in digital marketing production. This project was richly rewarding as it allowed our developers to explore new concepts and deliver a product that is truly remarkable for both its visuals and dynamic use of technology. We are happy to share the finished product on behalf of our client and hope that this new site will help to inspire plans for your next vacation.

Aruba Happiness Builder - Explore by Map

Jim The COO and Bret The Evil Database Manager Episode 1: Getting some REST

Jim The COO and Bret The Evil Database Manager Episode 1: Getting some REST

Jim decided that Bret must be evil. Pure, unadulterated, taking-candy-from-a-laughing-baby evil. How else could you explain it? Only a man of malicious intent would put Jim into this position.

He was sure that he had lapped the office at least one million times looking for the elusive database manager. His legs were tired and he was beginning to get looks from his fellow coworkers. He passed a customer service representative. Had he seen Bret? No. He passed the CFO. Had she seen Bret? No. He rounded a corner and passed the IT guy. Had he seen Bret? It’s very important and really can’t wait. No, sorry, but the IT guy would let Bret know that Jim was looking for him, if that was any help.

It wasn’t, but Jim said that would be great, thanks! and resumed his downward spiral around the office. Five minutes ago it had been 4:25 p.m. on an almost-over-Friday and Jim the COO had been looking forward to the weekend. He was going to go camping. Jim loved camping. It was restful and rejuvenating, which was just what he needed before the trade show on Monday. Sure, there was pressure. All of the big e-commerce partners were going to be there to witness the unveiling of a special API Jim’s company had been working on for months now. And sure, Bret the lazy, morally suspect, procrastinating database manager was the one heading that particular project. But, Jim had reminded himself at 4:27 p.m., Bret had been emailing updates (albeit vague ones) on the project for months now. Nothing to worry about, right?

Wrong. At 4:30 p.m., Jim was forwarded the following email from the CEO of the company:

Forwarded Email

The email had been sent with high urgency. The CEO had written only two words above the original text: “Address this.” Jim had been working at the company since its inception. That was long enough to know that, if he didn’t “address this,” he wouldn’t be working at the company for much longer.

Maybe he was being dramatic.

Immediately after receiving the email from the CEO, Jim walked to Bret’s office. The door was closed and the blinds were down, as usual. He knocked and there was no answer. Jim walked away feeling frustrated, too frustrated to wonder why Bret’s Lair was the only office that had blinds.

At 4:35 p.m., Jim called Bret. At 4:37 p.m., Jim had left a message on Bret’s office phone. At 4:45 p.m., Jim began to sweat profusely. Then, finally, at 4:52 p.m., Jim received the following email:

Auto Response Email

At 4:54 p.m., Jim decided that he wasn’t being dramatic and that Bret must be evil. He went back onto the floor and began making laps around the office. At 4:56 p.m., he ran into that IT guy, the one that would let Bret know that Jim was looking for him. Then, upon rounding another corner, Jim ran into Dave the developer. Dave was on Bret’s team. However, Bret was not fond of Dave, nor Dave of Bret (something about Dave insisting that Bret follow best practices and Bret insisting that Dave bring donuts more often). Jim was nigh hopeless at this point, but he figured he’d give it a shot. Had Dave the developer seen Bret?

No, he hadn’t. But he knew, instantly, what Jim’s problem was. He had been expecting Bret’s questionable progress on the project to end up ruining somebody’s day at some point. To Jim’s relief, Dave offered his insight. Maybe, maybe, Jim wouldn’t need to find Bret after all. Maybe he, and Dave the Divine Developer, could handle this themselves. Dave began to explain the goals of the project.

Truthfully, Jim didn’t understand all of the technical details. Dave boiled it down. Basically, the company was supposed to present a RESTful API for their relational databases that was easily navigable and allowed dynamic data manipulation. Because Bret had hamstrung the project, the company had nothing to present. However, Jim now had something to work with.

And, lo, Jim does what every person does when they absolutely need an answer and have no idea how to go about finding it. He searched the internet. His hopes weren’t high but, hey, he figured he’d give it a shot.

Google Search Result

He couldn’t believe his luck. This service, SlashDB, would provide all of the necessary functions of a RESTful API. On top of that, it had the potential to save the company an estimated $30,000 – $40,000 per year. It even had a search bar. The site said it could be set up within hours, which was shorter (by several orders of magnitude) than the time estimate that Bret provided in his email.

Jim was thrilled. He experimented with the demo and, to his delight, found that the service was intuitive and easy to use. Dave also explored the demo and explained that there were several other, more technical features that were particularly useful (the option to visit a destination page using multiple different representations, automatic reflections in the API if the database was changed, the solid security features, etc.). The best part was the setup. The site said that it was, essentially, automatic. Dave confirmed this to be true. Bret wouldn’t even have to participate.

On Monday, when Jim and Dave presented the SlashDB implementation to the CEO (so the CEO could present it to the partners), Bret happened to be in the office. He was furious. He couldn’t believe that Jim would just work around him like that, especially after all of the work that he had put in to the original project. When Dave heard this, he had to cough to stifle his laughter. Bret could tell he was defeated and excused himself from the office with his eyebrows, and his head, lowered. As he walked out, both Bret and Dave could have sworn that they heard phrases like “I can’t believe that traitor,” and “he’ll rue the day he crossed me” muttered under Bret’s breath. The CEO, however, was too delighted with Jim and Dave’s solution to notice. The trade show was in a couple of hours, and everyone (save Bret) was confident that SlashDB would leave the company’s e-commerce partners impressed.

Jim doubted that Bret would let this go. Even with this obstacle surmounted, Bret could provide all sorts of road blocks in the future. He swallowed and tried not to think about it. He and Dave had “addressed it,” at least for today. And, Jim thought, that wasn’t such a bad way to start the week, after all. Especially after a pleasant weekend of rest and relaxation in the woods.

Bret swears his revenge. Jim wonders why Bret would say such a strange thing at the office.

To Be Continued…

CIOReview: API as a Foundation for Systems of Engagement

CIOReview: API as a Foundation for Systems of Engagement

Influential technology management magazine CIOReview features two-page opinion piece from SlashDB’s founder and CEO Victor Olex:

APIs as a Foundation for Systems of Engagement.

Whereas cloud-to-cloud benefits of APIs have been covered at length elsewhere, Mr. Olex looks at APIs from the perspective of larger organizations with legacy systems on premises.

Learn how enterprises extend those systems to the cloud, why this is taking place, and why APIs are the enabling technology. Find out the difference between resource vs. service oriented architectures.

Under ROA data resources should be uniformly accessible to both software engineers and domain knowledge workers (data scientists,
business intelligence, quantitative analysts and salespeople.

What do Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Salesforce.com have to do with your  enterprise systems? Consider the implications of leveraging third-party cloud-based systems.

(…) no matter how compelling and easy to use those (SaaS) apps are, they are disconnected from your business’ systems
of record. Working in isolation they cannot fully support custom business processes.

cxo insightsYou can download the reprint of whole article from here: http://www.slashdb.com/resources/cio-review-apis-as-foundation-sys-engagement.pdf

Enjoy.


SlashDB is an API gateway for databases and a key component in solutions for extending legacy client/server systems into cloud, mobile and Big Data applications. Questions about API, data management or cloud applications? Please contact us for a free consultation.

SlashDB ver. 0.8 Debuts on Microsoft Azure

SlashDB ver. 0.8 Debuts on Microsoft Azure

The latest version of SlashDB launches on Microsoft’s cloud — a direct result of a partnership agreement between VT Enterprise and Microsoft. Pricing starts at $0/hr.

SlashDB is an automatic REST API for databases. The product instantly enhances existing web-based systems with a flexible data API for reading and writing in JSON, XML and CSV formats. Using SlashDB, web businesses achieve the shortest time to market for their API initiatives in marketing, e-commerce or data monetization programs. Enterprise clients utilize SlashDB to enable traditional client/server systems to work with modern HTML5 and mobile front-ends.

Indisputable Return on Investment

Microsoft_Azure_CertifiedUp to 90% of API development time can be saved by deploying SlashDB software. With the instant availability and pay-as-you-go per-minute billing for SlashDB on Azure there is no delay to start an API project and no upfront costs for hardware, networking and software development.

SlashDB clients report $30-$40k in savings per annum per developer. Developers can often entirely avoid boiler-plate data access code in Java Enterprise Edition (JEE), Microsoft .NET, PHP, object relational mappers (ORM) or other code-heavy approaches. Repetitive work is avoided due to SlashDB’s unique ability to automatically emerge new API endpoints as new tables are added or changed in the database.

What’s New in Version 0.8

Availability

SlashDB version 0.8 is immediately available from Microsoft Azure Marketplace and for on-premises installation. Version 0.7 is also available on Amazon Web Services with the update coming soon.

UPDATE: AWS Marketplace has the latest version now too.

Is Software as a Service a Good Choice for Your Business?

Is Software as a Service a Good Choice for Your Business?

Does your business utilize online tools to increase productivity or access functionality not easily available from desktop software? Chances are the answer is yes and that you have heard of SaaS, but are you aware of risks and dangers associated with it and how to avoid them?

SaaS is the acronym for “software as a service” and it has exploded in popularity as Internet speeds increase and data sharing booms. Businesses have become reliant on web applications and services for various aspects of their business from operations to marketing, to R&D and even finance. There are pros and cons to this type of relationship and its best to have an understanding of that balance in order to make an informed decision.

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

SaaS illustration - cloud with lighting.SaaS companies usually bill on a monthly basis and strive to keep clients dependent on their service. This can be a cost effective option to reduce capital outlays, but keep in mind that the SaaS provider is constantly changing their software or can shut down without warning.

In the case of Repost.us, this company was launched and closed so fast users were left scrambling. Repost developed a business model that strived to increase exposure for publishers that are faced with the challenge to increase exposure for their content. This launch sounded great and filled a gap in the industry, so businesses shifted their strategy to include Repost.us and allocated a lot of time, money and resources only discover that the doors were going to shut down within a year of the launch. This demonstrates an inherent risk, but it is generally less expensive for a business to take this risk than to develop their own syndication software from scratch. The key is to be aware of this risk and make sure your business can quickly absorb any change.

Wait for It

Even when dealing with stable SaaS companies the relationship is not without issues. Successful SaaS startups are often challenged by providing consistent performance as the service grows in popularity. It has been proven much harder to develop truly scalable, multi-tenant distributed software for third party’s use than even a large enterprise-scale system for internal use, where many issues such as security, feature adoption and business process integration typically are well defined by existing solutions and established best practices.

Data Silos

Because SaaS products generally tend to serve only a single purpose, a business that utilizes many of these services is not only paying multiple subscription fees on a recurring basis, but also ends up with its mission critical data segmented across the web on various platforms. REST API integration services such as Zapier and IFTTT can be used to mitigate that problem to some degree, but again a business would be adding another service provider to the mix and another layer of complexity to its technology operations. It is evident that flexibility of keeping data in the cloud has proven to be valuable. That being said, it is worth taking time to review where your business’ potential liabilities and exposures exist so you make the right decisions.

Custom Tailored Solutions in the Cloud

The flip side is cloud services that actually bring amazing advances to a business and reduce costs, allowing for things never before possible. Let’s take a look at Amazon Web Services,  a reputable and stable platform that offers scalable computing infrastructure. While technically an Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), AWS has a gamut of add-on services, which put it way ahead of traditional web hosting and co-location facilities.

One such service is the Amazon Web Services Marketplace. AWS Marketplace is an online store that helps customers find, buy, and immediately start using the software and services that run in Amazon EC2 cloud. Many businesses leverage AWS Marketplace to receive the benefits of SaaS without relinquishing control over the software upgrade cycle, security setup, and integration capabilities. Enterprise quality software from established providers such as Oracle and Microsoft can be used together with bleeding edge solutions from smaller independent software vendors and Amazon’s own web services.

Customers of SlashDB have taken advantage of its availability in AWS Marketplace knowing that the underpinning computing infrastructure will allow for massive scalability and robustness.  At the same time those customers retain full control over software upgrades and have an option to migrate and/or integrate with internal data center, if required. SlashDB instantly adds a REST API to traditional SQL databases for reading and writing in JSON, XML, CSV and HTML formats. It has found applications in enterprise data integration, syncing internal databases with their cloud replicas and as a data gateway for web and mobile enterprise applications.

Survival of the Fittest

Taking into account all the factors will help create a business environment that uses the latest technologies while balancing their own data security needs. As time passes and more businesses continue to embrace software as a service the strongest providers will prevail, making the overall system increasingly more secure and reliable. At the same time the need for API integration will only increase. This dance between business and technology is the driving force behind all the latest innovations, so stay informed and good luck with your next SaaS choice.