Over the past few years, there has been a huge up-tick in adoption of microservices by organisations worldwide. According to the Global Microservices Report for 2018, nearly 92 per cent of organisations increased their number of microservices last year and an equivalent percentage of organisations expect to grow the use of microservices in the coming year. The survey found agility (82 per cent) and scalability (78 per cent), as the top motivators for microservice architecture adoption.
While the adoption of microservices architecture has been on the rise, the activity is not free of challenges. The challenges range from access control enforcement, authorization using API tokens, and rate limiting, to name a few. At another level, the protocols used by different microservices may be different leading to protocol inconsistencies. Lastly, as microservices (using some APIs) create conduits for enterprise data and various application modules to external users, security becomes another major concern of CIOs and CISOs.
Need for an API gateway
In the backdrop of these issues faced by organisations, API gateway becomes an apt solution to be deployed along with microservices. An API gateway solution creates a single path to multiple APIs. As the number of microservices grows substantially—from a handful to a hundred, it may get difficult to manage millions of requests coming in for various internal microservices. An API gateway creates a single route for all external requests irrespective of which and how many microservice APIs are being called.
The key advantages of API gateway
While helping organisations manage and filter API requests efficiently, an API gateway solution offers a range of benefits to microservices architecture.
- Solidifies security: By separating the internal microservices from the external world, an API gateway provides an extra security shield protecting organisational resources from new-age threats such as ping of death (PoD), SYN flood, or Smurf attack.
- Improves performance: In a microservices architecture, in addition to fulfilling the specific task of integration and access, microservices have to also accomplish other objectives such as rate limiting, access control, and API tokens. A good API gateway solution can shoulder all these responsibilities, permitting microservices to focus purely on the tasks cut out for them.
- Simplifies communication: While using RESTful APIs to communicate with all the internal microservices, an API gateway eliminates protocol inconsistencies besides allowing developers to use multiple protocols such as based on Apache Thrift or AMQP, as necessary.
- Enhances user experience:: Acting as a mediator or a conveyor, an API gateway reduces the number of round trips of every access request, thus improving the speed of access and correspondingly the user experience, substantially.
Choose your partner prudently
A successful rollout of an API or microservices led digitalisation can, however, happen when an organisation gets the right guidance and invests in the right API gateway solution. Selecting an API gateway solution that offers special features such as throttling, rate limiting, and enforcing security policies is, therefore, advisable.
In case you are building mobile apps as a part of your overall digitalisation drive, then also check and validate whether your solution vendor has the capability to provide client-level synchronisation over and above the basic API gateway implementation support.
The tool you select must offer API management, request monitoring and analytics as the standard, hygiene features. But in addition, also look for a few other important capabilities. As your vendor whether or not its API gateway solution can help with tasks such as request logging, caching, SLA management, and API creation with a support of built-in editors.
The selection of the right API gateway tool can, thus, not only enable you to streamline development but also help accomplish speedy business growth. Powered by API gateways at the core, microservices and APIs can help you accomplish a digital transformation and allow you to expand your business footprint across multiple countries, time zones, and geographies in a very short time span.
Mr. Jinen Dedhia, Co-Founder & MD- DronaHQ.