Artificial Intelligence Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo

Blog Feed Post

WILS: The Data Center API Compass Rose

#SDN #cloud North, South, East, West. Defining directional APIs.

thedccompassroseThere's an unwritten rule that says when describing a network architecture the perimeter of the data center is at the top. Similarly application data flow begins at the UI (presentation) layer and extends downward, toward the data tier. This directional flow has led to the use of the terms "northbound" and "southbound" to describe API responsibility within SDN (Software Defined Network) architectures and is likely to continue to expand to encompass in general the increasingly-API driven data center models.

But while network aficionados may use these terms with alacrity, they are not always well described or described in a way that a broad spectrum of IT professionals will immediately understand. 

Too, these terms are increasingly used by systems other than those directly related to SDN to describe APIs and how they integrate with other systems within the data center.

So let's set about rectifying that, shall we?

The northbound API in an SDN architecture describes the APIs used to communicate with the controller. In a general sense, the northbound API is the interconnect with the management ecosystem. That is, with systems external to the device responsible for instructing, monitoring, or otherwise managing the device in some way.

Examples in the enterprise data center would be integration with HP, VMware, and Microsoft management solutions for purposes of automation and orchestration and the sharing of actionable data between systems.


The southbound API interconnects with the network ecosystem. In an SDN this would be the switching fabric. In other systems this would be those network devices with which the device integrates for the purposes of routing, switching and otherwise directing traffic.

Examples in the enterprise data center would be the use of OpenFlow to communicate with the switch fabric, network virtualization protocols, or the integration of a distributed delivery network.


Eastbound describes APIs used to integrate the device with external systems, such as cloud providers and cloud-hosted services. 

Examples in the enterprise data center would be a cloud gateway taking advantage of a cloud provider's API to enable a normalized network bridge that extends the data center eastward, into the cloud.


Westbound APIs are used to enable integration with the device, a la plug-ins to a platform. These APIs are internal-focused and enable a platform upon which third-party functionality can be developed and deployed.

Examples in the enterprise data center would be proprietary APIs for network operating systems that enable a plug-in architecture for extending device capabilities beyond what is available "out of the box." 


Certainly others will have a slightly different take on directional API definitions, though north and south-bound API descriptions are generally similar throughout the industry at this time. However, you can assume these definitions are applicable if and when I use them in future blogs.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Intel is an American multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, in the Silicon Valley. It is the world's second largest and second highest valued semiconductor chip maker based on revenue after being overtaken by Samsung, and is the inventor of the x86 series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computers (PCs). Intel supplies processors for computer system manufacturers such as Apple, Lenovo, HP, and Dell. Intel also manufactu...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
AI and machine learning disruption for Enterprises started happening in the areas such as IT operations management (ITOPs) and Cloud management and SaaS apps. In 2019 CIOs will see disruptive solutions for Cloud & Devops, AI/ML driven IT Ops and Cloud Ops. Customers want AI-driven multi-cloud operations for monitoring, detection, prevention of disruptions. Disruptions cause revenue loss, unhappy users, impacts brand reputation etc.
Apptio fuels digital business transformation. Technology leaders use Apptio's machine learning to analyze and plan their technology spend so they can invest in products that increase the speed of business and deliver innovation. With Apptio, they translate raw costs, utilization, and billing data into business-centric views that help their organization optimize spending, plan strategically, and drive digital strategy that funds growth of the business. Technology leaders can gather instant recomm...
OpsRamp is an enterprise IT operation platform provided by US-based OpsRamp, Inc. It provides SaaS services through support for increasingly complex cloud and hybrid computing environments from system operation to service management. The OpsRamp platform is a SaaS-based, multi-tenant solution that enables enterprise IT organizations and cloud service providers like JBS the flexibility and control they need to manage and monitor today's hybrid, multi-cloud infrastructure, applications, and wor...
The Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI) provides a comprehensive framework of theory and practice in the emerging field of AI. The program delivers the foundational knowledge needed to explore both key contextual areas and complex technical applications of AI systems. Curriculum incorporates elements of data science, robotics, and machine learning-enabling you to pursue a holistic and interdisciplinary course of study while preparing for a position in AI research, operations, ...
After years of investments and acquisitions, CloudBlue was created with the goal of building the world's only hyperscale digital platform with an increasingly infinite ecosystem and proven go-to-market services. The result? An unmatched platform that helps customers streamline cloud operations, save time and money, and revolutionize their businesses overnight. Today, the platform operates in more than 45 countries and powers more than 200 of the world's largest cloud marketplaces, managing mo...
I spend a lot of time helping organizations to “think like a data scientist.” My book “Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science” has several chapters devoted to helping business leaders to embrace the power of data scientist thinking. My Big Data MBA class at the University of San Francisco School of Management focuses on teaching tomorrow’s business executives the power of analytics and data science to optimize key business processes, uncover new monetization opportunities an...
Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in cybersecurity solutions, helps to make the world safe for exchanging digital information. Our innovative solutions for consumers, businesses, and governments provide layered security for data centers, cloud workloads, networks, and endpoints. All our products work together to seamlessly share threat intelligence and provide a connected threat defense with centralized visibility and investigation, enabling better, faster protection. With more than 6,00...