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Understanding Ballooning API Complexity

By Joe Dougherty
| | 8 min read

Summary

Apps have evolved from monolithic to modular, service-based architectures over the last 15 years, leading to increased reliance on external third-party services, backend integrations, and cloud APIs. But many companies do not measure or understand the impact of API reachability over the Internet and cloud provider networks, despite it being critical to their success.


The rise of API-first development, along with the proliferation of public, third-party APIs, has empowered many developers to build richer, more connected digital experiences. But there's a problem: the growth of API use is ballooning app complexity. Enterprises today rely on a wide variety of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), each with its own best practices for API management, configuration options, requirements, and permissions. And that intricacy isn't confined to individual services of those managed through an API gateway. For example, an enterprise app might rely on multiple messaging and location service APIs, both requiring real-time data. And to deliver reliable digital experiences for those kinds of apps, integrations between these services must be measured and tested by NetOps and DevOps to ensure critical workflows and backend interactions to external API endpoints are working as expected. 

From Monolithic to Modular 

Applications have existed in one form or another since the dawn of computing. But in the last 15 years, apps have gone from monolithic to modular, service-based architectures. The evolution of apps has been driven by the widespread adoption of public cloud and cloud services, which have played a critical role in enabling digital transformation across a variety of industries. This transition has made them increasingly intelligent and interconnected and has grown their reliance on external third-party services, backend integrations, and cloud APIs—each dependent on the Internet. As such, maintaining application reliability is more challenging than ever, especially with the constant fluctuation of service delivery paths between apps, data centers, and end users

The rise of APIs and other microservices has spurred a visibility problem with modular apps. And, while helpful for scale and deployment, when one of these services fails, it is difficult to tell where the root cause of a problem lies when within an external API, a multi-cloud or cloud infrastructure, or on the broader Internet. So, by the time a customer flags a problem, the user experience is already in jeopardy. 


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Understanding API Reachability 

One of the biggest mistakes companies make in handling API performance is not measuring or understanding the impact of API reachability over the Internet and cloud provider networks like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Azure. Though lag from reachability may only count for seconds, the delay could lead to significant amounts of lost productivity and momentum when you multiply the lag time by the number of employees at your organization and the pages needed to accomplish a specific task on a business-critical app. 

On the customer side, a two-second delay in page load time can drive up bounce rates by 103 percent, according to an online retail report by Akamai Technologies. Simply put, people notice when their customer experience is impacted by slow load times or spinning wheels due to an API authentication error. They see when your app takes too much time to use because it cannot connect to cloud resources. But, because there's no way for them to put it all together and say, "ah, it's the API," they simply blame your brand and abandon their purchase for that day.  

Numerous platforms are available to help monitor APIs. But for a truly comprehensive solution, ThousandEyes and AppDynamics bring Internet and cloud intelligence together with application performance monitoring (APM)—delivering full visibility into the application experience. This collaboration is critical in use cases dealing with microservices-based architectures because issues often start in one service and then propagate to others in unexpected ways.

A Flexible Framework 

With the speed and complexity of change in today's digital economy, your organization's ability to adequately monitor its APIs—especially those of a third-party provider—cannot be overstated. That is why ThousandEyes provides Adaptive API Monitoring, a flexible synthetic testing framework that emulates backend application interactions with remote API endpoints. Designed to solve the problem of monitoring modern cloud-native applications, Adaptive API Monitoring can help your organization validate API responses and raise an alert if the check fails—informing you before customers or employees are affected. 

Adaptive API Monitoring allows for the simple and flexible monitoring of all your web-based and remote APIs across the Internet and in cloud environments. It provides this ability for organizations by executing sequential, conditional, or iterative API calls against your API dependencies from external Cloud Agents or internally using Enterprise Agents. From these vantage points, your organization can carry out performance timing and reachability measurements for the sequential and cumulative exchanges between your applications and the external APIs on which they depend.

Granular View, Smarter Workflows

Organizations can monitor network paths and performance from the application to the API endpoints with Adaptive API Monitoring. This solution empowers application owners to measure and test critical workflows and backend interactions to external API endpoints, which in turn grants them a granular view of the individual elements of the application workflow alongside a sweeping macro view of collective service delivery paths across the Internet. 

As a company scales and optimizes, the most crucial elements of operational excellence are often outside the scope of most digital teams. And so, IT and DevOps teams need to be equipped with the best solution for rapid problem solving, smarter workflows, and insights into optimizing the digital experience. Adaptive API Monitoring provides those capabilities so that your organization can deliver app experiences that lead to increased sales and effortless productivity. 

Rest easy knowing that your REST APIs are working as expected. Reach out to ThousandEyes today to request a free trial of our monitoring solution. 

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