Charting the Future of Urban Connectivity: WeCity Collaborates with APISIX
"We value APISIX for its open-source character, the philosophy behind it, its core feature focus, and response communication." -- Arjen Hof, Co-founder and CTO of WeCity, and Tim van Densen, Software Architect and Lead Developer of WeCity
WeCity has been using APISIX for its core business since May 2023. Arjen Hof, Co-founder and CTO of WeCity, and Tim van Densen, Software Architect and Lead Developer of WeCity, shared their experience with APISIX, providing hints for any enterprise looking for a cutting-edge API gateway solution that can take their applications to new heights.
WeCity is a Dutch company that connects suppliers of smart city solutions and users of those solutions. It provides the technical and organizational tools to enable secure and trustworthy data exchange. Their belief is that smart cities require an open ecosystem which can only be achieved with strong and mature governance processes. Data management requires multiple components and integrating these components requires an open, flexible, and extensible architecture.
Currently, WeCity is actively engaged in a significant initiative led by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure. As part of this endeavor, WeCity has been entrusted with the development of generic services for an inventive Data-Driven Mobility Ecosystem. Within this ecosystem, WeCity ensures that both the supply and demand sides receive robust support while adhering to agreements that foster a dependable and trustworthy data exchange.
For the industry, it's difficult to create a governance structure that makes data exchange processes auditable, traceable, transparent, and secure.
Existing solutions to help data owners expose datasets to data consumers are frequently customized and challenging to maintain, resulting in significant costs, while the potential for monetizing valuable data remains limited.
Balancing secure and standardized data availability with complete data owner control posed a formidable challenge.
The WeCity team can seamlessly onboard new data providers, integrating their datasets into the platform without extensive custom development or complex integration efforts.
APISIX provided a powerful solution that enables WeCity to create comprehensive plans and policies, easily monetizing their subscriptions.
APISIX's robust monitoring capabilities also enable WeCity to closely track and analyze API usage, allowing them to make informed decisions and optimize resource allocation.
There are many different data sources regarding public space, coming from a plethora of different organizations. Making this data available in a secure, trusted way is critical. WeCity is aiming to establish a federated network comprising data owners, platforms, providers, and consumers. The challenge is to create a governance structure that makes processes auditable, traceable, transparent, and secure.
WeCity focused on public space and was building a data market to offer data owners the opportunity to expose their datasets to data consumers. The data owner should be able to attach plans and policies to their data. If necessary, data transformations can also be applied to standardize data according to international standards.
However, the exchange and exposure of data was cumbersome, leaving data owners with limited control. Existing solutions were often custom-made and hard to maintain. The cost associated with these processes can be substantial, while opportunities to monetize valuable data remain limited.
In addition, there were many datasets available related to public space: mobility, housing, green and nature, logistics, waste management, and more. Facilitating the secure and standardized availability of this data while ensuring complete control for the data owner presented a formidable challenge.
Why WeCity Opted for APISIX
WeCity thoroughly evaluated various solutions, including WSO2, Kong, Gravitee, 3Scale, API Umbrella, etc. They discovered that numerous open-source options had functional limitations, which not only required expensive enterprise agreements or support contracts to obtain additional assistance but also required too many modifications and were not extensible with plugins.
After careful consideration, the WeCity team made the decision to adopt APISIX in May 2023. Below are some reasons why WeCity chose APISIX.
Flexible and Extensible Architecture
WeCity required a data management solution that could integrate seamlessly into its existing architecture and infrastructure. APISIX provided an open and flexible architecture that allowed for easy integration with other components, such as metadata management, streaming services, data models, IAM (Identity and Access Management), metrics, and monitoring. Additionally, APISIX offered extensibility through almost 100 open-source plugins, enabling WeCity to customize and enhance the functionality as needed.
Secure Data Exchange with Owner Control
WeCity's goal was to enable a secure exchange of data while giving full control to the data owner. APISIX provided robust security features, including authentication and access control mechanisms like JWT, OAuth, IP allowlist and denylist, and rate limiting, ensuring that data is protected and accessed only by authorized parties. This feature aligned with WeCity's objective of maintaining data privacy and control.
Versatile Data Support and Delivery
WeCity was anticipated to handle diverse data types and delivery mechanisms. APISIX offers comprehensive support for various data formats and protocols, making it versatile for handling different types of data. Whether it was RESTful APIs, GraphQL, WebSockets, or other delivery mechanisms, APISIX provided the necessary capabilities.
Besides, The team preferred to use open-source software in their architecture. Therefore, WeCity followed projects the Apache Software Foundation offers and researched several other open-source API management solutions. Finally, WeCity found APISIX on Apache and found that it is one of the truly open solutions, with an approach that aligns with WeCity's goals.
Functional capabilities and ease of use
Functional capabilities and ease of use: WeCity thoroughly evaluated several solutions but found that many open-source options had functional limitations or required extensive modifications. APISIX stood out as a solution that met their requirements without the need for significant modifications. The WeCity team found APISIX easy to use and integrate into their existing infrastructure, reducing the complexity and time required for implementation.
WeCity is delighted to see that APISIX supports a native Kubernetes solution, as their entire infrastructure operates on Kubernetes. They have successfully implemented the APISIX Kubernetes Ingress Controller using the official APISIX Helm chart. The extensive technical support provided by APISIX was also a significant factor in their decision to choose it.
WeCity is currently using APISIX as a gateway for managing its routes and consumers. For each route, it is very easy to customize the behavior through plugins. Because WeCity receives many requests for API access from different kinds of partners and customers they have to be flexible. For example, it is very easy to set up a new route for an existing backend API which requires different rate limiting. With a few changes in the plugin confirmation, a new route is generated quickly.
They are creating these routes with the native ApisixRoute in Kubernetes and also making use of the APISIX Admin API. The customers can control their own subscription, when a subscription has been activated a route is dynamically created with a different authentication config for each customer.
When implementing APISIX, there exist risks. The risk is that WeCity had to cope with data processes that were not completely known yet. They had tested different scenarios and had not found limitations yet. Also, the implementation of APISIX was rather straightforward and did not raise additional costs. When the number of data sources grows in the data market, WeCity needs additional resources but this is part of the business plan.
Achievements after Using APISIX
Prior to adopting APISIX, WeCity faced the challenge of having to develop unique approaches for each partner they sought to connect with. This meant that integrating new datasets into their architecture required significant time and effort. However, with the implementation of APISIX, the WeCity team has experienced a remarkable transformation in their data management capabilities.
Efficient Data Integration and Expansion
One of the key advantages of APISIX is its ability to simplify the process of adding new data sources to WeCity's data market. With APISIX, the team can seamlessly onboard new data providers, integrating their datasets into the platform without extensive custom development or complex integration efforts. This streamlined approach not only saves valuable time but also opens up opportunities for rapid expansion and diversification of their data offerings.
APISIX has provided WeCity with a powerful solution that enables them to efficiently apply plans and policies to diverse datasets and seamlessly integrate them into their existing architecture. This newfound flexibility allows the team to quickly adapt and respond to the evolving needs of its partners and customers.
Enhanced Control and Optimization
Furthermore, APISIX empowers the WeCity team to build upon their existing knowledge and expertise to create comprehensive plans and policies. They can define specific access rules, usage limits, and pricing models for different datasets, ensuring that their data market operates efficiently and securely. APISIX's robust monitoring capabilities also enable WeCity to closely track and analyze API usage, allowing them to make informed decisions and optimize resource allocation.
Optimized Monetization and Revenue Management
In addition to enhanced data management, APISIX provides WeCity with a flexible framework to monetize their subscriptions. The platform offers various billing and subscription management features, enabling WeCity to efficiently manage revenue streams, automate billing processes, and provide a seamless payment experience for their customers.
"Open source, extensible, and implementation can be the most obvious advantage we feel about APISIX. APISIX is a component manager that enables us to apply plans and policies to data sources and expose them in a secure way to consumers." Arjen Hof and Tim van Densen said.
APISIX has empowered the WeCity team to effortlessly integrate new data sources, apply custom plans and policies, monitor usage, and effectively monetize their data market. With APISIX as a reliable backbone, WeCity can focus on delivering exceptional data-driven solutions to their partners and customers, fueling their growth and success in the market.