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The API Management Hub

There’s no doubt that microservices, fueled by APIs now dominate the digital world for most businesses. In fact, the API Management market is predicted to grow six-fold by the end of the 2020s.


What is it? And, what do you need to know about it? Below, we’ll cover key components like API gateways, Kubernetes, proxies, and more, as well as tips and resources for maximizing your potential to dominate the world of microservices for your organization.

What is API Management?

API Management is an essential strategy for managing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in the digital realm. It covers every phase of an API’s life, from its initial design to its final deployment, including ongoing maintenance and security measures.


This comprehensive approach guarantees that APIs, vital for integration and facilitating communications between software applications between software applications, function both efficiently and securely. It also ensures the APIs support and align with a company’s strategic goals. By adopting a comprehensive API Management strategy, organizations can improve their digital operations, drive technological innovation, and deliver new business opportunities. This positions them effectively for success in a digital marketplace that is ever more connected and complex.


As defined by Gartner, the API management market is “a market for software that supports all stages of an API's life cycle: planning and design, implementation and testing, deployment and operation, and versioning and retirement.”

The Role of the API Gateway in the Microservices Lifecycle

Historically, companies followed a linear flow in their software development lifecycle–from requirement gathering to design, coding, testing, releasing, and then running an application.


With the rise of DevOps and agile methodologies, there's a shift towards a decentralized approach, which emphasizes coding, testing, releasing, and running concurrently. This shift has led to faster release cycles, improved product quality, and greater responsiveness to market demands.


In addition to agile methodologies, a microservices architecture involves multiple, often fine-grained services and is made up of containers and clusters of containers that operate simultaneously. These “microservices” run in parallel and send and respond to requests like API calls at the same time, creating a highly dynamic environment.

An API Gateway acts as a single point of entry for external clients, aggregating the responses from various services and returning them to the client–infrastructure independent. This process simplifies the clients' interactions with the system, as clients do not need to make requests to each microservice individually.


Your API Gateway handles vital elements of your microservices architecture, including load balancing (reliability), authentication (security), and rate limiting (performance).




When we look at all stages of the microservices lifecycle, the API Gateway plays a role in the following:

Design

The focus: A design-first/API-first mentality means putting the design of your API or microservice at the forefront of your entire process and looping in all relevant stakeholders at the start of your project. Like any new development project, this phase starts by thinking through the larger distributed system. This phase covers a full look at the pipeline to come up with plans or specifications to construct this system.


The Challenge:

Typically, at this stage in the microservices lifecycle, the challenge for Kubernetes teams is defining service boundaries, deciding on communication patterns, and setting consistent standards for logging, monitoring, and error handling.


An API Gateway Solves this by:

Luckily, an API Gateway like can streamline external requests to microservices and protect the secure configuration of interfaces, routing, and authentication during the design phase.


Build

The Focus: Now comes the development phase of the microservices lifecycle. Typically, different teams might choose to develop each microservice differently, but the great thing about microservices is that they can be connected with the right components and APIs. Once libraries and tools are selected and set up, let the building begin!


The Challenge:

Developing in a microservices environment means dealing with local environment setup complexities and service dependencies and making sure that changes to one service don't inadvertently break others.


An API Gateway Solves this by: Development & Debugging
Simulate production behavior in development and staging, enabling the creation and testing of routing rules without requiring operations team intervention.


Test

The Focus: You’ve built it; now how do you make sure it works? This phase of the microservices lifecycle focuses on testing your microservice to make sure it holds up the capabilities you developed it under.


The challenge:

Testing microservices can be complex due to service inter-dependencies, data consistency challenges, and the need to test both individual services and their integrations.


An API Gateway solves this by:

Compare the behavior and performance of new versions or changes against the existing version in a controlled manner, providing a smooth transition and minimizing risks during deployment.


Deploy

The Focus: The third microservice life-cycle stage is deployment (which can also be known as production), and is typically the most complicated phase of the microservices lifecycle due to the fact that a microservices application can consist of hundreds of services, written in a variety of languages and frameworks.


Each service is its own mini‑application with specific deployment, resource, scaling, and monitoring requirements. When deploying your microservices, you can deploy via: serverless architecture, hosted in containers, developed using PaaS, or even using your own locally hosted application.


The Challenge:

Deployment of microservices involves managing service discovery, load balancing, and providing zero-downtime deployments. Coordinating these deployments across multiple services in Kubernetes can be daunting.


An API Gateway solves this by: Using the Edge Stack example, Canary Releases & A/B testing play a big role here. You can enable Canary releases and A/B testing, where different versions of microservices can be deployed and tested in production with a subset of users, in order to evaluate the performance, stability, and user experience of new versions before fully rolling them out.

Maintain

The Focus: Once your microservices are out there, now it's up to you to track them properly. Proper upkeep and maintenance for your microservices are critical to avoid breaks, issues, or breaches in the system. Sometimes, it can be hard to visualize all of your microservices and understand their dependencies, leaving you with potential blind spots, so regular maintenance can help you to avoid these issues.


The Challenge:

With‌ dozens or hundreds of microservices running simultaneously, tracking for performance, errors, and security issues becomes challenging in a Kubernetes environment.


An API gateway solves for this by: A gateway solution that offers metrics & logging to allow you to watch the performance, latency, and behavior of microservices will help you identify bottlenecks, performance issues, and anomalies, facilitating optimization and troubleshooting during the development and deployment phases.

The World of API Gateways

“More than half a billion records have already been exposed via vulnerable APIs, and 2023 is on track to be a record-high year for API breaches.” - (May 2023 report, FireTail).

And you and your team don’t want to be the next victim!


Choosing the right API Gateway solution starts with understanding the true value and benefits of what they provide and where they fall into the microservices and API development lifecycle.


If you’re a Kubernetes developer (see above re: container orchestration in a microservices infrastructure), you want an API Gateway solution that K8 developers design for K8 developers. More on that in a bit.

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What is an API Gateway, Anyway?

An API Gateway acts as an intermediary between client applications and backend services within a microservices architecture. It works to bring together various APIs into one endpoint, streamlining tasks like request composition, routing, and protocol translation.


Key Features of an ideal Kubernetes API Gateway

Kubernetes-Native

If you’re a Kubernetes developer, you will want to pick an API Gateway that Kubernetes developers make! And if you’re not a Kubernetes developer, you’ll still need an API Gateway. Kubernetes-native solutions such as Edge Stack offer greater scalability and ease of implementation. You’ll deal with far fewer plugins and headaches to get your operation up and running.

How Edge Stack Kubernetes API Gateway can impact your business & team:

Built on Envoy, Edge Stack API Gateway is the only Kubernetes-centric and cloud-native option out there that balances affordability and scalability. With Edge Stack you can expect:

  • Improved Security
  • Better Standardization & Centralization
  • Enhanced Developer Experience
  • Room to grow alongside your business needs

I want a Demo of the Edge Stack API Gateway

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Envoy Proxy

Edge Stack is an Envoy API Gateway. Envoy is an open-source edge and service proxy that offers a modern, high-performance, small-footprint edge and service proxy for cloud-native solutions. Typically, Envoy API Gateways are most comparable to software load balancers such as NGINX and HAProxy.

Tips for Maximizing API Gateways:

And before we go, here’s a few tips to maximize your Kubernetes API Gateway experience:

Use HTTPS Communication:

HTTPS is a secure protocol that encrypts all data in transit, which improves your security measures and is considered the industry standard for public-facing websites.

Leverage Serverless Functions:

Integrating serverless functions into your Kubernetes API Gateway means setting up routes, mapping requests to functions, and handling request/response transformations. This integration then connects your serverless functions to the external world, enabling seamless communication between customers and your APIs.

Use a Centralized Authentication Server:

Best practices say that you should not allow your API Gateway to issue access or refresh tokens, and that should only be issued by a centralized authentication server. Using a centralized auth server will allow for improved security.

Limit Requests:

Known as rate limiting, this helps your services remain protected and operate within their intended capacity limits. More on rating limiting here.

Maintain regularly to avoid issues:

Regular upkeep and maintenance will save headaches down the road. Do a deep audit and check in at least once a quarter to ensure smooth operations.

Enable WAF:

Enable web application firewall (WAF) (which is already a part of Edge Stack luckily!), to increase security practices. WAF protects web applications from a variety of application layer attacks.

Implement API-led Connectivity:

API-led connectivity boils down to the use of APIs to connect data and applications. APIs are eating the world and can only help speed up your development processes!

Manage Deprecated APIs:

No one likes Zombie APIs, and they are a huge risk and vulnerability to your network so maintain the visibility of your entire API program and manage deprecated APIs on the regular.

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