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The API gateway is an important part of any application, acting as a point of passage for data within your application to reach the desired endpoints. It is often used by backend systems for routers, load balancers, or databases. Today, we’ll discuss the API gateway, what it does, some useful features, and why modern developers rely on them.
As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the API gateway has grown in importance in the tech industry. Probably the most obvious reason for its growing significance is that its use provides a way for companies to integrate various technologies and systems, making it easier to manage and use information from APIs.
The Application Programming Interface gateway, usually referred to as the API gateway, is a software that enables communication between multiple applications and systems being used. It creates an interface between external applications and internal systems. The API gateway assists in managing and securing any APIs in use by providing authentication and authorization features.
In this post, we'll cover the following topics:
In brief, API gateways:
The API gateway is an invaluable tool for web and mobile app developers. It enables them to create APIs that allow third-party developers to access and use the functionality of their applications. This can save developers time and money, as well as improve the reliability and usability of their applications. Additionally, API gateways can help to streamline the development process by automating certain tasks, such as authentication and authorization.
Using an API gateway can significantly improve the performance of applications by allowing them to interact with external systems in a faster, more efficient way. An API gateway manages the interaction between an API provider and API consumer. It manages all the requests made to the different APIs and aggregates the result. They protect user information, securing and mediating all traffic between backend apps that may expose data.
API gateways help with functionalities like API call routing, throttling, rate limiting, policy enablement, security mechanism, and other tasks. And in addition to authentication and authorization, API gateways automate complex processes, such as customer interactions or supply chain management.
The increase in the use of API gateways has made it easier for developers to avoid using monolithic applications, which relied on services built with an all-in-one architecture linked by a single database. The problem with these applications is that all components are dependent on each other because they work together to create a singular unit.
That’s great until changes need to be made. With monolithic applications, any modifications to part of an application may mean changing the entire architecture, a developer’s nightmare.
As the Internet grew from Web 1.0 technology to the innovations of Web 2.0, developers soon realized that API gateways need to be more than “glorified routers.” Without this change, monolithic APIs and architectures would continue to be the norm. So, the move toward more cloud-based systems has made the need for API gateways more critical than ever.
Because modern API gateways work with multiple APIs across systems, their use offers several services and efficiencies essential to workflow.
One example of their usefulness: API gateways are easy to configure, providing more flexibility to development teams. They can also extend the functionality of some legacy applications, and be used for monitoring and observation. Logs can help determine where issues starting during failure events.
Every project is different, but any API gateway search should include the following criteria:
Meanwhile, here’s a quick set of questions you may want to consider when evaluating API gateways.
API proxies are a subset or miniature version of an API gateway. For some they may do enough to get the job done for a project, but in general API proxies are limited in what they provide. They may offer some basic communication between platforms, control traffic flow, and some security and monitoring features for users, but won’t allow you to do much else. API gateways will provide better routing, content, analysis and monitoring, and much more.
Here are some of the best open-source API gateway tools available today.
As mentioned earlier, the API gateway has evolved, transitioning over the years from being used in Web 1.0/monolithic architectures to becoming an essential part of any modern microservices-based architecture. The API gateway provides a single point of entry for all your API calls and can be used to route traffic to the appropriate backend service.
With the development of microservices architecture and cloud-native applications, more features were built into the API gateway itself.
Every great innovation comes with its share of drawbacks. Like any other web-based application, API gateways can be slow and unreliable or scale poorly.
To recap, the API gateway is an essential and cost-effective solution to make your developers more productive by offloading the work of managing APIs while providing better performance, and safety controls.