APIs and microservices: 4 trends for IT leaders

APIs and microservices: 4 trends for IT leaders

Watch out for these emerging trends in how APIs and microservices work together, as IT teams shift away from monolithic development to more modern approaches

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November 05, 2018
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3. Growing interest in API gateways

More organizations are hitting an inflection point where the management and orchestration of their APIs make a gateway more necessary.

“One of the most visible trends right now is the growing popularity of API gateways as a kind of management console and concierge for distributed architectures, including microservices,” says Berent-Spillson.

(Here’s a quick primer on API gateways.)

Berent-Spillson adds that API gateways aren’t new. Rather, interest in them is growing now because more and more organizations are hitting an inflection point where the management and orchestration of their APIs make a gateway more necessary.

He points to three key benefits:

  • “They use metadata to quickly display all the microservices related to different categories of your application – people or products, for example – and allow you to manage versioning,” Berent-Spillson says.
  • They can also be used to create a mock API endpoint for testing purposes, especially on DevOps teams or other high-velocity environments. “This is perfect for [a] front-end team that needs an API as soon as the contract is hammered out [or project is approved], but doesn’t want to wait for the back-end team to stand up a mock endpoint, or wait even longer for the full version,” Berent-Spillson explains. “The front-end team can develop against the mock endpoint complete with integration tests, and when the real version is added behind the gateway, they can quickly re-run their integration tests to verify it meets [expectations].”
  • Finally, an API gateway can accelerate and “democratize” development because it enables developers to publish new APIs without help from Ops. “If you’ve gone to the trouble of building microservices, the last thing you want to do is bottleneck your development pipeline,” Berent-Spillson says. “The self-serve approach supports the flexibility and rapid deployment most organizations are trying to achieve with microservices.”

4. Increasing focus on business benefits

A deep dive into microservices gets technical in a hurry; there’s no surprise there, nor should that really be a problem for IT pros. But Singh notes that many of the key trends in how software teams use APIs and microservices are best expressed in terms of their business benefits, or at least in a manner that can more readily be connected to a specific business value or goal. The added bonus: Everyone else in the organization should be able to wrap their heads around these, too.

These are the whys of APIs and microservices rather than the hows.

It’s sort of like another manifestation of the declarative API or the broader “desired state” paradigm: These are the whys of APIs and microservices rather than the hows.

Singh shares five such trends in how teams are using APIs as part of a microservices strategy:

  • Enabling the agility and flexibility needed to leverage internal and external innovation to meet business needs.
  • Building smarter integration between independent and dependent systems across hybrid environments.
  • Building a so-called “bridge to the cloud” – in other words, enabling the migration to and adoption of cloud services.
  • Automating complex tasks while maintaining visibility and control.
  • Improving productivity through better supportability and debuggability.

Consider a more detailed example of one of these desired outcomes: smarter integration in a hybrid cloud environment.

An application built with microservices and running in a private cloud could leverage, via API, a public cloud storage service for particularly large or bulk data needs, rather than buying storage locally for that private cloud to ensure excess or maximum capacity. And it can be programmed to make those decisions automatically.

“This is how applications can be smarter in their decisions – what to leverage from public cloud, make or leverage [as] a serverless function, or build locally depending on the cost, risk, latency, performance, et cetera,” Singh says.

[ Want to learn more about building cloud-native apps and containers? Get the whitepaper: Principles of container-based application design. ]

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