Modern programs run on APIs. In digital transformation efforts, APIs are often the building blocks used to push organizations into the current digital age. For business-critical transactions, most applications, therefore, rely on APIs. Without truly understanding what’s going on behind the scenes with each API endpoint, organizations create blind spots in their performance.
Let us see more about API and how important it is to monitor the API, and how we can easily monitor the API endpoint.
What is an API?
A collection of procedures or functions governs the access points for a specific system, service, or application. Currently, the two competing approaches offering extensibility to APIs for creating web services are Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Representational State Transfer (REST). GraphQL has become a popular alternative to REST for specific use cases in the past few years. There are also a few lesser-used alternatives.
- SOAP API – is strictly based on XML and HTTP protocols. Sending a SOAP request is like using an envelope to send a message.
- REST API – If SOAP is like an envelope, REST is more like a lightweight postcard. It is high performing (especially over HTTP2), time-tested, and supports many data formats.
- HTTP API – can be very similar to REST APIs. Most APIs fall somewhere in this category.
- GraphQL API – is contract-driven and comes with introspection out-of-the-box.
API endpoint monitoring
What is API endpoint monitoring?
API monitoring is keeping an eye on APIs to obtain visibility into their availability, performance, and functional accuracy. Your applications’ performance may be analyzed using API monitoring, and underperforming APIs can be improved. They offer measurements of
- The length of time required to complete a transaction
- How often is it called?
- Where is it called from?
- And the proportion of overall time spent executing that transaction.
One or more subsystems fail, and the technical team is unaware of the situation. That downtime can cost millions of dollars (or more) in essential industries like banking and stock trading, but it can also result in deadly client backlash in other companies. It’s almost to the point where discovering a problem before your customer is no longer just smart but mandatory.
Why Monitor APIs?
You keep an eye on APIs to spot a failure or slow application transaction before your end-users report the problem. Teams can respond to these critical issues with the use of monitoring.
- Are APIs accessible?
- In what way are the APIs acting?
- Are the APIs operating as anticipated?
If APIs fail, your applications fail.
Imagine a continuous software development, testing, deployment, and monitoring cycle as engineering organizations adopt Agile practices and other cutting-edge software development, testing, and deployment methods. It is essential that monitoring turns into a necessary extension of that continuous integration cycle.
Delivering the experience envisioned in the original design depends on maintaining monitoring scripts with the right and newest versions of the functional tests to assure continuous availability for service users. Suppose you are using APIs to provide services for the functioning of your app, and they are either unavailable, malfunctioning, or not responsive. In that case, it impacts your app’s performance and the end-user experience.
What are the different ways to monitor APIs?
When it comes to monitoring the behavior of running APIs, we tend to break down the monitoring into three equally essential categories:
- Availability of the API
- Performance of the API
- Correctness of the functionalities the API offers
How to monitor API endpoints?
By user-defined tests, API monitoring should confirm an API’s availability, performance, and accuracy. End users (like you, developers, software testers, and DevOps engineers) define test cases and provide details about the API being tested and the desired behavior. Depending on the solution, you may occasionally need programming knowledge to write tests.
One or more HTTP requests are sent to an API by an API endpoint monitor, who then monitors the response time, status, and content of the responses. You may specify assertions to check the contents in the response for each step (request). Additionally, variables may take data from answers and utilize it for later queries.
Open API (Swagger) definitions, Postman, and SoapUI projects can be uploaded to construct API monitors.
What are the benefits of API monitoring?
You should monitor any API crucial to your business. There is a lot for you to gain from API Monitoring. An API monitor can tell you if,
- Your API is available
- Your API results are accurate
- Your API’s performance is on par
Best Practices in API endpoint monitoring
There are a few tactics that all firms ought to use, even if the best practices for API monitoring occasionally differ by industry or kind of software.
Organizations should consider their APIs as critical as software vulnerabilities and infrastructure availability. Assess APIs 24/7, 365 days a year, with multi-step calls that simulate internal and external interfacing.
Push monitoring beyond availability and performance
Deteriorating API performance and response times can significantly affect the customer experience and the bottom line. But what about functional correctness and data accuracy? Even though APIs are responsive and accessible, that doesn’t guarantee that they operate as intended. Data abnormalities can significantly affect an application’s quality and a company’s reputation.
An API monitoring tool’s output must be accessible to both systems set up for automatic responses and human operators. Data should also be consolidated and shown, preferably with actionable insights. Operators won’t have enough time to profit from all of the advantages of monitoring tools that are too challenging to use.
Contextual Awareness for Business
Monitoring needs context to be valuable to end users and the company. A baseline of typical behavior and use patterns must be developed, along with knowledge of how factors like seasonality or holidays affect that behavior. Developers and system architects are given the tools they need to optimize APIs for the annual peaks and troughs that organizations experience.
What are some challenges of API monitoring?
The use of APIs is expanding across sectors at a rapid rate, yet businesses are still having trouble implementing methods to track and manage this vital technology. The typical problems are performance, balancing response time, reliability limits, and data quality.
The administration and monitoring of the APIs might introduce extra complexity even if they are intended to address complicated problems. The following are a few of the most critical pain points:
- The Black Box
- Multiple, Siloed Data Sources
- Lack of Context
Choose the Right API Monitoring Tool
Tools that show metrics need regular human involvement to determine what went wrong and address and troubleshoot API issues. A tool with a powerful alerting function should be the top consideration when selecting an API monitoring solution.
API endpoint monitoring with Serverless360
We have used a few available applications and see that Serverless360 is one of the best solutions. Compared with Postman, Swagger, API Endpoints can be monitored by defining the monitoring rules and associating them with a Business Application in Serverless360.
The provided error threshold values determine the health status of the corresponding API Endpoint when performing a monitoring test. Serverless360 provides two different health statuses based on the evaluation of the configured rules:
- Error – when the expected value meets the error threshold
- Healthy – when the expected value doesn’t meet the error threshold
The health status of the configured API Endpoint can be tracked using Service Map.
How Serverless360 handles the API monitoring challenges
We saw some challenges while monitoring the API endpoints in the previous topics. Let’s see how Serverless360 handles those challenges,
The Black Box
The Black Box is nothing, but the inner things are hidden. Hence we can monitor the status of the API endpoint using the Status code. The status code for determining an API Endpoint’s error condition can be configured.
Multiple, Siloed Data Sources
From the API’s perspective, call sequencing, input parameters, and parameter combinations all play a role in how that data will be processed and passed into an application. These can be monitored with the Response header. The response header can be specified to validate it against the error threshold.
Response time is a crucial component of the user. Hence the threshold value for response time can be specified with the Response header to validate the API Endpoint’s health based on the same.
Lack of Context
Actionable data can be monitored using the Response body. The response’s body can be plain text, JSON, or an XML. The regular expression field is optional for basic text response bodies, whereas the JSON and XPath query values are required for the respective body types.
Select a threshold condition for which the violation warning must be alerted when the assertion value exceeds the anticipated threshold value, then pick one of the data kinds from the Type menu. Below data from the API response can be monitored:
- Status code
- Response time
- Response header
- Response body
The alert notifications for API Endpoint monitoring will be sent in the same manner as the violation alerts sent via the configured notification channel(s) and email address (es).
The image below depicts the API Endpoint alert
- API publishers must monitor their API endpoints’ functionality, performance, and availability.
- If your company depends on a third-party API, you should at the very least keep an eye on the APIs’ accessibility.
- Toto prevents slowing down entire operations, and an API should react rapidly.
- API monitoring alerts you and your staff to problems before they impact your users.
I hope this blog helps you understand the basic concepts of API endpoint, API endpoint monitoring, the challenges, and how to overcome those challenges. Within Serverless360, the API endpoints can be monitored and managed from various perspectives.