Designing highly integrated and user-friendly systems around appliances such as spam filter and firewalls really puts their APIs to test. For example, a hosted anti-spam service would need automatic creation of domains and routes, and the provider probably likes to integrate the message history into their own web page. Another example is automatic deployment and configuration of light-weight virtual firewalls at a virtual machine hosting (VPS) provider.
All our products stand out in terms of integration and manageability. We have takes several steps ahead of our competitors; trying to please even the most demanding customers:
- Everything is available over the SOAP API. In fact, the web administration and CLI themselves are simply SOAP clients, and the SOAP API is even used internally as IPC. Anything you can dream of scripting or integrating; you can. The API is well documented and simple to use thanks to the annotated WSDL file.
- Scripting that makes anything possible. HSL (Halon scripting language), which borrows it's syntax from PHP, Perl and C, has a large number of functions, ranging from string manipulation to SMTP, HTTP and DNS lookups and cryptography. If only you can outline the ideal setup for a certain scenario; you can then implement it using HSL.
- Apply configurations atomically without rebooting. The products are designed around the backend process, which is solely responsible for system configuration and operation. Every change to the configuration is actually the same as uploading a new configuration file, which is revision-managed, and applied by tracking the changes between the running configuration and the new one. You can therefore commit (upload) a new configuration to a live, running system, and rest assured that only what has changed between the revisions will be affected during the commit. The configuration file is in clear-text, and has a beautiful, hierarchical grammar which is especially neat when comparing revisions (diff).