As developers, we spend a lot of time developing APIs. Sometimes it’s to expose data that we’ve transformed or to ingest data from other sources. Coincidentally, more and more companies are jumping into the realm of API Management—Microsoft, Google, MuleSoft and Kong all have products now that provide this functionality. With this much investment from the big players in the tech industry, API management is obviously a priority. Now, why would anyone want to use an API Management tool?

The answer is simple: It allows you to create an API Gateway that you can load all your APIs into, providing a single source to query and curate. API Management makes life as an admin, a developer, and a consumer easier by providing everything for you in one package.

Azure API Management

Azure API Management logoWhat does Azure API Management provide? Azure API Management (APIM) is a cloud-based PaaS offering available in both commercial Azure and Azure Government. APIM provides a one-stop-shop for API authority, with the ability to create products, enforce policies, and utilize a robust developer portal.

Not only can API Management integrate seamlessly with your existing Azure infrastructure, but it can also manage APIs that exist on-prem and in other clouds. APIM is also available in both the IL4 and IL5 environments in Azure Government, which allows for extensibility and management for those working in the public sector.

APIM leverages a few key concepts to provide its functionality to you as a developer, including:

  • Products
  • Policies
  • Developer Portal

From providing security to leveraging rate-limiting and abstraction, Azure API Management does it all for API consolidation and governance in Azure. Any API can be ingested, and it gets even easier when APIs follow the OpenAPI Format.

What Are Products?

Products are a layer of abstraction provided inside APIM. Products allow you to create subsets of APIs that are already ingested into the solution—allowing you to overlap the use of APIs while restricting the use of individual collections of APIs. This level of compartmentalization allows you to not only separate your APIs into logical buckets but also enforce rules on these products separately, providing one more layer of control.

Product access is very similar to Azure RBAC—with different groups created inside of the APIM instance. These groups are yet another way for APIM admins to encapsulate and protect their APIs, allowing them to add users already associated to the APIM instance into separate subsets. Users can also be members of multiple groups, so admins can make sure the right people have access to the right APIs stored in their APIM instance.

What Are Policies?

Policies are APIM’s way of enforcing certain restrictions and providing a more granular level of control. There is an entire breadth of policies available in APIM, which range from simply disallowing usage of the API after calling it five times, to authentication, logging, caching, and transformation of requests or responses from JSON to XML and vice versa. Policies are perhaps the most powerful function of APIM and drive the control that everyone wants and need. Policies are written in XML and can be easily edited within the APIM XML Editor. Policies can also leverage C# 7 Syntax, which brings the power of the .NET Framework to your APIM governance.

What Is the Developer Portal?

The Azure API Management Developer Portal is an improved version of the Swagger documentation that’s generated when you use the OpenAPI spec. The Developer Portal provides an area for developers to readily see APIs, products, and associated applications. The Portal also provides sample request bodies (no more guessing API request structures!) and responses, along with code samples in many different languages.

Finally, the portal also allows you to try API calls with customized request bodies and headers, so you have the ability to see exactly what kind of call you want to make. Along with all that functionality, you can also download your own copy of the OpenAPI Spec for your API after it’s been ingested into your instance.

Why Should I Use APIM?

Every business should be using some form of API Management. You’ll be providing yourself a level of control previously not available. By deploying an API Gateway, that extra layer of abstraction allows for much tighter control of your APIs. Once an API has been ingested, APIM provides many additional functionalities.

First, you can match APIs to products, providing a greater level of compartmentalization. Second, you can add different groups to each product, with groups being subsets of users (i.e. Back-end Devs, Billing Devs, etc.). Third, you automatically generate a robust developer portal, which provides all of the functionality of the Swagger portal, but with added features, such as code snippets.  Finally, APIM also has complete integration with Application Insights in commercial Azure, providing access to a world-class logging and visualization tool.

Azure API Management brings power to the user, and no API should be left out.

One of the biggest roadblocks to government digital transformation is the lack of effective IT governance. Unresolved concerns including privacy, security and organizational silos that limit data sharing and analysis continue to pose hurdles for agencies.

Last night’s Azure Government Meetup in Washington, D.C. featured a stellar lineup of industry-leading experts who shared insights and strategies on achieving effective IT governance in areas including identity, portfolio and records management.

If you missed it, you can catch the replay hereRead More…

The Microsoft Government Tech Summit – a free, technical learning event for IT professionals and developers – is coming to Washington D.C., March 5-6, 2018! This two-day event will be packed with technical content, and this year Microsoft is showcasing Azure Government and Microsoft 365 for US Government.

Our Cloud Application Development Director, Brent Wodicka, is presenting this year on “A PaaS-First Approach to DoD Mission Apps” on March 5th at 1 p.m.  He will be co-presenting with Microsoft’s Derek Strausbaugh, and showcasing how Azure simplifies and re-imagines legacy mission applications. Registration is now open, and we’re hoping you can join us!

As the expectations of citizens increase, the need for technology innovation in government intensifies. Learn how cloud innovation can help meet the needs of the nation. Whether you’re interested in learning about security approaches or attracting and retaining talent with a more flexible and modern workstyle, Microsoft Government Tech Summit can help you evolve your skills and deepen your expertise to lead your agency through digital transformation.

What to expect:

  • Connect with experts from Microsoft and the community, and learn how to get the most from the cloud. Ask your toughest questions, learn best practices, and share strategies.
  • Choose from a variety of learning opportunities to deepen your cloud expertise, from keynotes and breakout sessions, to hands-on labs and a hackathon.
  • Customize your learning – whether you’re already cloud-savvy or just getting started – Microsoft Government Tech Summit has something for everyone.
  • Discover the latest trends, tools, and product roadmaps at more than 60 sessions covering a range of topics, including over 40 sessions focused on the needs of government agencies.

The cloud is changing expectations – and transforming the way we live and work. Join us at the Microsoft Government Tech Summit and learn how Microsoft’s cloud platform can help you lead your agency through digital transformation – and make the cloud part of your mission success.

REGISTER NOW

Last night’s AzureGov Meetup was an exceptionally fantastic one! The team challenged the Azure Government DC user community to create and share 12-minute demos to showcase cool tech that can help accelerate your cloud implementation.

We received a terrific response to the challenge and it resulted in a rock-star lineup of speakers, demos and an inside scoop on what’s moving the needle in government technology today. The presenters included:

  • Patrick Curran, Director, Federal Group, Planet Technologies
  • Mark Joscelyne, Head of Technical Operations, Public Sector, Frame
  • Deepak Mallya, Chief Cloud Architect, Cloudwave, Inc.
  • John Osborne, Principal OpenShift Solutions Architect, Red Hat
  • Steve Michelotti, Lead Dev Evangelist, Microsoft Azure Government

You can watch ALL the demos here at the archived livestream. (It’s available for a limited time, so check it out today!) Read More…

About this time last month, Microsoft announced that its Azure Government cloud platform received Authority to Operate (ATO) designations from both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Air Force gave Azure Government the Defense Department‘s Impact Level 4 ATO, while ICE issued a FedRAMP High ATO.

In other words, that DoD Impact Level 4 ATO confirms that Azure Government complies with security standards required to host “controlled unclassified data for development, test and production environments within CCE.” The Air Force has already started to build a cloud infrastructure through the ATO and a shared application platform and hosting environment.

The FedRAMP High ATO authorizes Azure Government to handle ICE’s most sensitive unclassified data, including data that supports the agency’s core functions and protects against loss of life. The agency is currently implementing transformative technologies for homeland security and public safety, and the High ATO designation for Azure will allow them to innovate even faster.

This is great news for both the agencies and for Azure Government. We’ve helped large federal agencies make the move to the cloud using Azure tools, and while these migrations are always quite complex, we’ve actually streamlined the process down to five crucial steps: Compliance, envisioning, onboarding, deployment, and sustainment. 

AIS’ five-step DoD Cloud Adoption Framework is built on lessons we’ve learned from countless successful commercial and DoD secure cloud migrations and results in an expedited yet fully compliant process. We’re looking forward to helping many more agencies head to the cloud as a trusted Microsoft (and government) partner.

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While cloud is fast becoming the “new normal” for government, agencies are still challenged with the daunting task of IT modernization and developing a cohesive cloud migration strategy. Oftentimes, what’s holding back progress is that there simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all cloud playbook. That, combined with agency culture, hinders many agencies from making the move to cloud.

The November #AzureGov Meetup this week brought in both a packed house and a great lineup of government and industry experts who shared their best practices on critical components for cloud success, including: stakeholder engagement, evaluation, planning, implementation, outcomes…and the cultural changes you need to ensure a smooth transition.

We also celebrated the two year anniversary of the #AzureGov Meetup!


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We took Rimma Nehme’s excellent demo from BUILD 2017 and recreated it for AzureGov.

In a nutshell, we took the Marvel Universe Social Database and loaded it in Azure Cosmos DB as a graph database. Then we built a simple web page that invoked Gremlin queries against Cosmos DB.

The key theme of this demo is the ease with which you can create a globally distributed database that can support low latency queries against the Marvel Universe graph database. In the context of AzureGov (as shown below), we can seamlessly replicate the data across the three AzureGov regions by clicking on these regions within the Azure portal.

Here’s a quick look at the demo:

Earlier this week, my colleagues and I attended the 2017 Microsoft Government Cloud Forum at the Ronald Reagan building in D.C. This invitation-only event discussed topics such as IT modernization, cybersecurity, mobility, shared services, citizen engagement, and workforce management, all of which are top-of-mind these days for government employees.

AIS spent the day with Microsoft, government leaders and other partners, as we collaborated on how to both innovate and deliver more efficiently and effectively.

Lots of exciting news came out of the event, and we wanted to take a quick second to go over some of the bigger announcements: Read More…

For government, cybersecurity isn’t just a challenge—it can also be a roadblock that stands in the path of a long-awaited digital transformation.

Agencies are tasked with balancing the highest security measures with innovation, as today’s employees and citizens alike insist that their data be conveniently available anytime, anywhere. Where do you even start?

Last night’s AzureGov Meetup had a BIG audience hoping to get an answer to that question!

Read More…

Government agencies across the spectrum are sitting on invaluable datasets that are locked up, usually because of lack of resources, tools and compliance regimes.

Fortunately, cloud-based analytics capabilities are allowing these datasets to be turned into knowledge. Whether it’s data about the agency mission, citizen services or simply data from running large data centers, analytics can help these agencies visualize, analyze and optimize. Last night’s AzureGovMeetup showed attendees exactly how.

Read More…