Akana, formerly SOA Software, enters competitive API analytics market

It's amazing what a new name can do. Throwing off the slightly sour taste of its previous name, Akana is getting a big dose of API magic and rolling out API analytics for its platform. Is this novel, or simply a case of

data integration hands cooperation

Akana used to be known as SOA software. So why does an existing vendor with market awareness change its name?

Well, unfortunately for SOA software, the acronym SOA is seen as very much an old-school approach towards technology. SOA stands for service-oriented architecture and refers to an architectural pattern in software design in which application components provide services to other components via a communications protocol, typically over a network. Unfortunately, SOA was developed before the rise of easily created and consumed APIs (application programming interfaces...sorry for all the acronyms). APIs have pretty much rendered SOA obsolete, and that means SOA Software was a wholly unsatisfactory name for the company.

Which is why the company rebranded a few months ago, Akana being its new name. With the rebrand, Akana also articulated a new focus. They're now in the business of delivering API Management, API Security, and Cloud Integration products. What that means is that their new name and product focus brings them into an area with some big hitters. Akana competes directly with the newly public Apigee, soon-to-be-public MuleSoft, and other players such as Vordel and 3Scale. That's not, in itself, a huge problem. The broader API space is a big opportunity with plenty of room for different companies taking slightly different approaches to the problem. Akana seems to be gaining some traction - it claims Bank of America, Pfizer, and Verizon as customers. How much this relates to legacy spend from the old SOA days is unknown, however.

Anyway, Akana is today broadening its API solution with the release of Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that is aimed at helping enterprises mine insights across their digital ecosystem. In other words, Envision allows customers to take all of the metadata around their API usage and extract some insights from it. If that sounds familiar, it is because it is also a busy space - a plethora of vendors are helping companies analyze their machine data: Splunk, Loggly, SumoLogic, to name but a few. Akana will be hoping that the fact that they've embedded analytics directly into the API platform, rather than offering it as a third party add-on, will provide some differentiation.

Either way, the value of this meta data is real, regardless of the various competitive tensions that exist. "In today's digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance," said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana. No arguments there.

In terms of what it actually looks like, Akana Envision is an extension of the Akana API Management platform's existing analytics capabilities. The platform can be utilized to perform custom analytics or integrate with an existing analytics platform. Envision's core business analytics capabilities allow for tracking product, customer, and monetization trends. Envision API Analytics help identify top APIs by usage, monetization, app type, platform or channel. API owners can analyze API licenses and usage as a means to fine-tune developer and partner onboarding. Operationally, IT professionals can use Envision to analyze how their infrastructure responds to requests from different devices, locations, and request types. Enterprises gain the ability to manage quality-of-service of their APIs, oversee quota usage, and troubleshoot and react to problems before they can adversely impact their business.

Analytics is becoming table-stakes for API management vendors. As such, this announcement is less about something completely new than it is about Akana ticking a check box. That's not a criticism per se, vendors are in a constant state of having to innovate and catch up. What it does mean is that Akana has to wage a battle against multiple vendors. It will be interesting to see how that goes now that the shackles of their old name have been laid aside.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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