API management at Liberty Global Inc.

The digital ecosystem is evolving in many directions. Organizations are adopting multiple channels to drive newer sales channels, trigger new business models and generate more and more revenue. This triggers the need of unlocking business assets to the outside world in a secure manner. This case study goes into the implementation of a full and complete API Management solution at Liberty Global.

Liberty Global in a nutshell

Liberty Global is the world’s largest international TV and broadband company, with operations in 12 European countries under the consumer brands Virgin Media, Unitymedia, Telenet and UPC.

Liberty Global had an annual revenue of $18.3 billion in 2015, with operations in 30 countries and 47,000 employees by 2016. Its cable services pass 55.8 million homes, with 28.6 million customers or 59 million RGUs (video, internet, and voice subscribers).

The need for a full API Management solution

For managing the APIs exposed by their different services, Liberty Global was using an API gateway solution, which is typically far less complete than any full API management solution. This solution did not have the desired capabilities and maturity that was required by Liberty Global. Many of the API Management capabilities such as Developer and Partner On-boarding, API Lifecycle Management, API Documentation and Testing, and API Analytics, were not available in their API Gateway.

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Devoteam’s API Management Solution

Liberty Global engaged with Devoteam Netherlands to implement and operate a new API management solution. Key requirements for their solution included security for their business capabilities and data assets, high availability of the services, geo-redundancy, scalability and multi tenancy of the platform. This all to support the business in 12 different countries across Europe, distributed over the different Group companies. Though being a distributed solution, the management needed to be centralized.

Devoteam helped to deeper understand and formulate further these API management requirements. Based on over 30 different requirements touching the API gateway, API manager and API analytics functionality, a vendor evaluation was performed on 8 different API management solutions. Apart from the functional analysis, the licensing models and costs of the candidate solutions were taken into account. As a result, the top performing vendors were engaged and Akana was chosen as the target API management solution, best fit for Liberty Global’s needs.

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After the vendor evaluation, Devoteam helped Liberty Global to define the API management strategy and its supporting architecture. A roadmap was constructed, enabling Liberty Global to get started with a first rollout soon to reap the first benefits. This first rollout enabled Liberty Global to start onboarding and securing the first APIs on the platform, in the redundant, high available and secure setup that was desired. The 12 countries are served currently from 6 different sites throughout Europe, all with centralized management. This to support low latency, high throughput processing for the different affiliate companies.

The solution gradually evolves to support also lifecycle management of the APIs including best CI/CD practices, full analytics for insights in the API usage and active-active processing over the redundant data centers. Part of the project scope was also to decommission the existing API gateway, after migrating the relevant APIs to the new platform.

An integration cookbook was created, documenting the principles and guidelines for the usage of the API management platform and the different integration patterns. These integration patterns also include the typical policies to be enforced on the particular integrations. These policies range from security policies (OAuth 2.0, OpenID Connect, Basic authentication, IP whitelisting), to operational policies (throughput / concurrency quota, timeouts) and monitoring and auditing policies.

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Devoteam has set up a DevOps team to implement the platform as well as to support it and support implementations of new APIs on it. Engaging projects can choose to implement their APIs in a self service model, to improve the company’s agility and operational efficiency even further.

The result: A shorter Time To Market

The first roll-out of the API management platform was achieved within 6 months after the start of the engagement. The new API management platform enables Liberty Global to shorten the time to market for new services drastically. Currently, around 50 projects (API integrations) are supported in parallel per month. The Pan-European, distributed setup allows for low latency, high throughput processing for Liberty Global and its affiliate companies in 12 different countries throughout Europe.

“Liberty Global now has full insights and transparency of the services it is exposing, the applications that are consuming them and the different (security) policies that are enforced.”

If you are interested in API Management as a solution for your business, feel free to contact Ratko Popovski (ratko.popovski@devoteam.com), director Architecture & Implementation at Devoteam Netherlands.

Our API Management offer

The digital ecosystem is evolving in many directions. Organizations are adopting multiple channels to drive newer sales channels, trigger new business models and generate more and more revenue. This triggers the need of unlocking business assets to the outside world in a secure manner. The increasing demand from Internet Business Models, IoT, social media and Cloud Adoption will exponentially increase the need to expose the business assets to the outside world by means of APIs.

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Eelco Gelton