The development and consumption of APIs have exponentially increased in the last couple of years. Today, we are seeing organizations investing in development teams to build their own APIs while others are extensively depending on third-party APIs. This has been fueled by the ability of APIs to streamline business operations, power innovations, and the development of amazing solutions that meet the requirements of their customers.
APIs (Applications Programming Interfaces) constitute pieces of code that power the communication and sharing of data between different applications. It is through these APIs that applications are able to work the way that they do helping organizations build resilient IT infrastructures. For instance, a user is able to make reservations on the Tripadvisor application due to APIs that communicate with other applications to get all the information that the users need.
However, the continued rise of the use of APIs brings in a new requirement – API management. This is a term that is used a lot in the same context with API gateway, but the two are quite different. In this article, we will discuss API gateway and its common patterns.
The API gateway acts as the point of access to APIs. It is responsible for managing and securing the traffic between applications, servers, and API consumers. It manages authorization and authentication, rate limiting, directing requests to the right resources in the server, making sure that responses reach the right destination, protecting APIs against attacks, and handling exceptions or errors.
On the other hand, API management is the process through which organizations and developers manage their APIs throughout their (APIs) life cycle. This includes publishing them, analyzing their usage, and monitoring performance. It is a very important aspect that determines how successful an API will be.
The most common API gateway patterns include;
Even though this gateway pattern had not been commonly used in previous years, organizations are continuously adopting it. This has been fueled by the fact that services are getting more distributed and smaller compared to before. Such services need a multi-layer (or two-tier) gateway pattern that ensures that different gateways have separate roles to power the operations of APIs.
This first layer in this gateway pattern is the security layer that handles authentication, injection tracing, logging of requests and connections, and termination of SSL/TLS. The second layer is the routing gateway responsible for handling authorization, load balancing, and service discovery. This gateway pattern has allowed organizations to implement scalable APIs that meet their demands as well as those of their customers.
This is the gateway pattern that has been used a lot in previous years. This pattern allows the API gateway to handle every other task, including authorization, authentication, termination of SSL/TLS, rate limiting, request and facade routing, and manipulation of requests and responses.
This pattern is common with organizations that want to expose services that have been previously offered by monolithic applications. Unfortunately, it is not good when used with APIs that need to be scalable to handle changes in developer and consumer demands.
This API gateway pattern implements the multi-layer pattern discussed above but adds another gateway that is dedicated to the API development teams. This is important in helping the teams make changes without having to affect any applications that rely on the APIs as well as managing the traffic between different services.
The first layer of the gateway is responsible for the termination of SSL/TLS, rate limiting, and routing. The added gateway is tasked with service discovery, load balancing, and authentication. This is important for organizations that develop APIs to be used by third-party developers.
In conclusion, it is important to note that APIs are among the driving forces that have made it possible for organizations to grow, innovate, and generate revenue. They drive the digitization of business operations making sure that services are streamlined and that they meet the requirements of their customers. However, organizations need to make sure that they are employing the right API management measures and using the right API gateway patterns for their APIs to operate without any issues.