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What is an API Gateway? And Why is it Important?

API gateways are tools that allow you to manage APIs between a client and a collection of backend services. API gateways act as reverse proxies to collect API calls from clients, aggregate the services required to fulfill them, and return the appropriate results. An API gateway sits in front of a set of APIs or microservices to coordinate data requests and delivery. In addition to acting as a single entry point and standardizing interactions between apps, data, and services, API gateways can also support and manage API usage by performing a variety of other functions, from authentication to rate limits to analytics.

What is an API Gateway?

Typically, API gateways handle requests by invoking multiple microservices and aggregating the results, so that the best path is determined. they route all API calls from clients to the appropriate microservices through request routing, composition, and protocol translation. The API gateway allows mobile clients to retrieve all product details with a single request using an API gateway. It can translate between web protocols and web-unfriendly protocols used internally. Invoking various services, such as product information and reviews, and combining the results.

One of the components of an API management system is an API gateway. It intercepts all incoming requests and forwards them to the API management system, which handles a variety of necessary tasks. The API gateway differs from implementation to implementation in terms of what it does. An example of a common API gateway function would be authentication, routing, rate limiting, billing, monitoring, analytics, policies, alerts, and security.

Why do we use an API gateway?

There are many enterprise APIs deployed via API gateways. these gateways handle common tasks across a system of API services, including user authentication, rate limiting, and statistics. In its simplest form, an API service accepts a remote request and returns a response. But real life is never that simple. When you host large-scale APIs, consider all your concerns. Those concerns are:

1. You use authentication and rate limiting to prevent API abuse.
2. You want to measure how people use your APIs, so you include analytics and monitoring.
3. If you intend to monetize your APIs, you should connect to a billing system.
4. Microservice architectures may involve calling dozens of different applications.
5. Over time, you’ll add some API services and retire others, but your clients will still want to find all your services together.

With all of this complexity, your challenge is to provide your clients with a simple and reliable experience. An API gateway lets your client interface be decoupled from your backend implementation. When a client makes a request, the API gateway breaks it into multiple requests, routes them to the right places, produces a response, and keeps track of everything.

How does an API gateway work?

Using APIs, separate applications can communicate and exchange data inside and outside of a business. API gateways provide a focal point and standard interface for these activities. As well as receiving requests from internal and external sources, it packages multiple requests, routes them to the appropriate API or APIs, and receives and delivers responses to the user or device who made the request.

An API gateway is also essential to a microservices-based architecture, where data requests are invoked by a variety of applications and services using multiple, disparate APIs. API gateways perform similar functions here: Provide a single point of entry for a defined group of microservices, and apply policies to determine their availability and behavior.

Additionally, API gateways handle the tasks that are involved with microservices and APIs. These task are:

1. API Security
2. service discovery
3. basic business logic
4. authentication and security policy enforcements
5. stabilization and load balancing
6. cache management
7. monitoring, logging and analytics
8. API Transformation
9. Rate-Limiting
10. protocol translation

Building Microservices Using an API Gateway:

Using an API gateway is a good idea for most microservices-based applications since it acts as the single entry point for the system. The API gateway is responsible for request routing, composition, and protocol translation, and can streamline the system. with an API gateway, each client gets a customized API. Depending on the request, the API gateway routes it to the appropriate backend service, while for others it invokes multiple backend services and aggregates the results. if there are any failures in the backend services, the API gateway can return cached or default data to mask them.

Pros and Cons of API Gateways:

In addition to standardizing and centralizing the delivery of services via APIs or microservices, API gateways also help secure and organize API-based integrations in a variety of ways. The followings are the benefits of an API gateway:

1. Simplifies service delivery:

With API gateways, multiple API calls can be combined to request and retrieve data, which reduces traffic and reduces requests. This benefits mobile applications and streamlines the API process.

2. Provides flexibility:

Developers can customize API gateways to encapsulate the internal structure of an application in a variety of ways, to invoke and aggregate multiple back-end services.

3. Extends legacy applications:

As an alternative to a broader and more complicated (and expensive) migration, enterprises can leverage API gateways to work with legacy applications and even extend their functionality.

4. Contributes to monitoring and observability:

For monitoring API activity, most organizations use specific tools, but an API gateway can help. Monitoring failure events can be pinpointed using API gateway logs.

In spite of all the benefits mentioned above, there are some challenges that teams might face with an API gateway:

1. Reliability and resilience:

Enterprises must be wary of adding features that adversely affect performance, especially since API gateways represent an extra step between customers and applications or data. Any impairment or hindrance to the API gateway’s functionality may result in the failure of associated services.

2. Security:

If the API gateway is compromised, a serious security problem could occur across a wide range of an enterprise’s business areas. External-facing interfaces and internal APIs and systems should be separated carefully, and authentication and authorization parameters should be defined.

3. Complexity and dependencies:

Every time an API or microservice is added, changed or deleted, developers must update the API gateway. this is especially challenging in an environment where a few applications can become hundreds of microservices. It is possible to mitigate these issues by creating and adhering to API and microservice design rules.

API Gateways vs API proxy:

There are also API proxies, which are basically subsets of API gateways that provide minimal processing for API requests as an alternative to API gateways. API proxy handles communication, including protocol translation, between specific software platforms, such as proxy endpoints and target APIs. However, API gateways usually provide better performance analysis and monitoring capabilities. in addition, they can control the flow of traffic between sending and receiving points.

How an API gateway supports DevOps and serverless environments:

The most common way microservices communicate in organizations that follow a DevOps approach is through APIs. microservices are used to build apps fast and iteratively.
Moreover, modern cloud development, including the serverless model, relies on APIs for provisioning infrastructure. you can deploy serverless functions and manage them with an API gateway. In general, APIs become increasingly important as integration and interconnectivity become increasingly important. As API complexity increases and usage increases, API gateways become increasingly valuable.

Conclusion

In this article, you have got familiar with API gateways, what they are, their use cases, pros and cons, and their implementation. Essentially, API gateways are API proxies that sit between API providers and API consumers; API gateways are façades that provide API interfaces for complex subsystems. The API gateway acts as a protector, enforcing security and ensuring scalability and high availability of defined back-end APIs and microservices (both internal and external). Typically, The gateway sits in front of an API and serves as its single-entry point. API gateways combine API requests from clients, determine which services are needed, and provide a seamless user experience.

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A Complete Guide to Microservice Architecture

An architecture based on microservices consists of a series of small, autonomous services. Each service is self-contained and should implement a single business capability within a bounded context. a bound context is a natural division within a business and provides a definite boundary within which a domain model can be applied. In a microservice architecture, services are loosely coupled and can be developed, deployed, and maintained independently. These services each handle a discrete task and can communicate with other services using simple APIs to solve larger complex business problems. In this article, we will take a close look at the different aspects of microservices, what they are, What are the challenges and benefits of using them and so on.

What are Microservices?

A microservice is a small, independent, and loosely coupled service. It can be written and maintained by just one or two developers. Each service has a separate codebase, which can be managed by a small team. There is no need to rebuild and redeploy the entire application when updating an existing service. Services are responsible for persisting their own data.Data persistence is handled by a separate data layer in contrast to the traditional model. services communicate with one another via well-defined APIs. internal implementation details of each service are hidden from other services. polyglot programming is supported. Services do not need to share the same technology stacks, libraries, or frameworks, for example.

The Pros and Cons of Microservices:

It is possible to build the constituent services by one or more small teams from the beginning separated by service boundaries, making it easier to scale up development efforts in the future. Once developed, these services can also be deployed independently of each other, making it easy to identify hot services and scale them independently from the whole application.

Another benefit of microservices is also improved fault isolation, which means that the whole application does not necessarily stop working in the event of an error in one service. if the error is fixed, a smaller version of the application could be deployed instead of a whole app being re-deployed. One of the advantages of microservices architecture is that you can choose which technology stack (programming languages, databases, etc.) is best suited to the required functionality (service) instead of having to use a more standardized, one-size-fits-all approach.

Pros:

Easier Debugging:

Managing bug fixes and feature releases is easier with microservices because they are deployed independently. you can update a service without redeploying the entire application, and you can roll back an update if something goes wrong. When a bug is discovered in a traditional application, it can stall the entire release process. new features may be delayed while a bug fix is integrated, tested, and published.

Smaller teams are needed:

It is important to use microservices that are small enough to be built, tested, and deployed by a single team. Small teams are more agile than large teams because of slower communication, increased management overhead, and diminished agility.

Small code base:

It is easy for monolithic applications to become tangled over time due to a high number of code dependencies. adding new features requires touching a lot of code. Adding new features is easier with a microservices architecture because it does not share code or data stores.

Scalability:

It is possible to scale out services independently, allowing you to scale out subsystems requiring more resources without scaling out the entire application. with orchestrators like Kubernetes and Service Fabric, you can load more services onto a single host, which allows for better resource utilization.

Data isolation:

The process of performing schema updates is much simpler, because only one microservice is affected. Schemas updates can be challenging in a monolithic application because different components of the application may all interact with the same information, making any changes to it risky.

Variety of Options:

Teams can choose any technology that fits the need of their service. For instance they can choose MySQL or MongoDB for the database, with Django and Python, Docker, Redis and so on. They have the option of choosing the framework, language, database and the kind of tools necessary for their service.

Fault Isolation:

Microservices can become unavailable, but the entire application won’t go down as long as any upstream microservices can handle faults correctly (for example, by implementing circuit breaking).

Cons:

With every benefit comes a challenge and every opportunity creates a threat. We have the same story for microservices.

Testing and Development:

It requires a different approach to writing a small service that relies on other dependent services than it takes to write a traditional monolithic or layered application. Existing tools are not always designed to deal with service dependencies. Refactoring across service boundaries can be challenging. Testing service dependencies can also be challenging, especially when the application is rapidly evolving.

Issues of Decentrlization:

Decentralized microservices have many advantages, but they can also cause problems. the application may become difficult to maintain if you use so many different languages and frameworks. Standardizing project-wide functionality without overly restricting teams’ flexibility may be helpful. this is especially true for cross-cutting functions like logging.

Network congestion and latency:

There will be more interservice communication if there are many small, granular services. Furthermore, if the chain of service dependencies becomes too long (service A calls service B, which then calls service C.), the increased latency can become a problem. The design of APIs must be carefully considered. avoid overly chatty APIs, consider serialization formats, and find ways to use asynchronous communication methods like queue-based load levels.

Data integrity:

Due to each microservice being responsible for its own data persistence, data consistency can be a challenge. Embrace eventual consistency when possible.

Management:

In addition to mature DevOps practices, microservices require correlated logging across services. To log a single user operation, multiple service calls must be correlated.

Versioning:

It is possible for multiple services to be updated at any given time, so if you don’t carefully design things, you may experience problems with forward compatibility and/or backward compatibility.

Various Skill Set:

Since any microservice require various talents, it is important to determine whether the team is skilled and experienced enough to handle microservices.

Microservice Use Cases:

A microservice architecture is built using Java, especially Spring Boot, to speed up application development. microservice architectures are often compared with service-oriented architectures. they both have the same objective, which is to separate monolithic applications into smaller components, but they have different approaches. Here are some microservices architecture examples:

Website migration:

It is possible to migrate a monolithic website to a microservices platform based on cloud computing and containers.

Media content:

Object storage systems offer scalable storage for images and videos, and they can be served directly to web or mobile devices using a microservices architecture.

Transactions and invoices:

Despite not being able to process payments, orders can be processed independently, so payments can continue to be accepted even if invoicing does not work.

Data processing:

Existing modular data processing services can be extended to the cloud with the help of a microservices platform.

Conclusion

In this article, you learned about Microservices what they, their architecture, design, implementation, benefits, challenges, and use cases. Microservices are so common these days and companies and startups are hiring developers with different expertise who can handle a part of the microservice development. These are of course various parts with their own specific skill set that requires a team of developers.

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In Arashtad, we have gathered a professional team of developers who are working in fields such as 3D websites, 3D games, metaverses, and other types of WebGL and 3D applications as well as blockchain developemnet.

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