While much of the hype around a software defined data center (SDDC) seems to be pure marketing buzz, I did notice an interesting trend during my time spent at Tech Field Day 9: many of the vendors are baking in various ways to programmatically interact with their software. In this case, the flavor of choice is REST, which stands for representational state transfer. I’m a fan of REST because it is both easy to understand and relatively simple to begin working with. There’s really no reason to be fearful of REST, even for a complete novice, because it’s a very friendly way to receive and transmit data to an entity using GET, PUT, POST, and DELETE. To date, the only APIs I’ve really spent any time with are related to vCloud (you can read the entire vCloud API Programming Guide here along with an older post from William Lam here), but I am assuming that the skill set translates nicely among other implementations.
Both Nutanix and Veeam were presenters at the event and unveiled a RESTful API for consumption. For those new to these companies, Nutanix offers a “No-SAN” type of hyperconverged infrastructure for a massively scale-out virtualization platform, while Veeam is a provider of the ever popular Veeam Backup and Replication software (with version 7 just announced). Both vendors are veterans to the Tech Field Day scene, having presented in prior events. In fact, I first saw Nutanix at Tech Field Day 8 over 1.5 years ago.
Note: All travel and incidentals were paid for by Gestalt IT to attend Tech Field Day 9. No other compensation was given.
REST API in Veeam B&R v7 Enterprise Plus
In the case of Veeam, I will warn you that access to the RESTful API is limited to customers who have purchased the Enterprise Plus edition of Veeam B&R v7. Standard and Enterprise editions will only support PowerShell. However, I would argue that this sort of makes sense – if you have forked out the cash to bump up to Enterprise Plus (or upgraded from Enterprise) then you may have more of a use case to consume the RESTful API over a smaller shop.
With that said, this is a great way to harness the power of Veeam using non-standard workflows via an orchestration platform of your choice. Many large enterprises want to consume resources by way of a service catalog of some sort, and granting the architect or engineer a way to plug in backup without having to manually define jobs is huge. Imagine offering a “backup” checkbox within your SLA definition, or even as a part of different tiers, in which the creation of a virtual machine also automagically triggers a REST call to ensure that the VM is part of a specific backup job. Or, even ad-hoc or one-off jobs. The possibilities are as endless as the use cases.
Here’s the specific presentation from Veeam at Tech Field Day 9 that introduces the RESTful API concept.
The Sexy Nutanix REST API Explorer
There’s really no other word than sexy to describe the Nutanix REST API Explorer. It is simply done right, and other vendors should take notice. Since I called out the need for a specific licensing version for Veeam, I will state here that you don’t have to purchase anything special to get the REST API in Nutanix – it’s an out-of-box feature.
Built into the GUI is an actual Explorer page with a list of details on each object and a list of operations. The operations are all color coated for easy viewing and can be expanded or contracted to make finding the specific one required simple. You can also drill into each call’s schema by clicking on it to help with formatting the call. Steven Poitras, who was demoing the technology, also showed how he can quickly gleam the request URL, body, code, and headers along with a “try it out” button right on the page. This is an excellent tool for learning both the Nutanix REST API and also dipping a toe into the waters of API calls, JSON, and REST itself, and gives the user access to over 250 REST calls.
Use cases are also endless here – the ability to build out custom workflows, along with gathering data by way of code, could be used by higher level services in the stack (think: private cloud) or as part of a NOC dashboard system. It makes a ton of sense for a company billing themselves out as being a scale-out, SDDC solution to have a way to talk via REST. I would imagine that ultimately this will become table stakes for any serious competitor in the hyperconvergence space.
I’ve embedded the presentation below for your viewing pleasure – the REST API portion begins at around the 14 minute mark.