API monitoring is the process that involves checking Application Programming Interfaces for any availability, functionality, and performance issues. This is mostly done in production. In the past few years, APIs have been adopted by almost every other application we use today.
The growth of the Internet of Things and the cloud have also played a major role in the adoption of APIs. This has made APIs the major building blocks of most applications today. If, for example, an API that a company provides and relies on goes down or its performance is affected, all the services and applications that implement the API will also have performance issues.
This is what makes API monitoring important. You might put a lot of effort and spent a lot of resources developing, testing, and deploying your APIs but this can all be lost if you fail to monitor the APIs.
Whether the APIs are built for public or internal use, many applications and services depend on them. If you fail to keep track of your APIs, chances are that you will not know or it will be too late when you get to know about any issues affecting their performance.
Why Should You Monitor Your APIs?
- Taking Responsibility: Once you have developed and deployed an API for use, all the users that consume the API depend on you to make sure that the API meets all the availability, functionality, and security requirements.
- Making Sure that all API Methods Work: In some situations, you might find that an API is up and running but a single method might fail affecting an entire chain of transactions.
- Website Monitoring: Some developers think that they can use the initial page load to check for the uptime of their APIs. This is not enough since a page might load but the API transactions might fail.
- Protecting Your Business: When an API fails, this ends up affecting all the applications and services that depend on it. Your application users might lack technical knowledge, others might not even know what an API is. In such a failure, chances are that they will migrate to your competitors.
- Meeting Customer Requirements: Monitoring APIs allows you to modify the APIs easily to meet the requirements of your customers and keep them satisfied with your services.
- Security: You need to optimize your applications’ security as well as that of your APIs. Monitoring makes sure that you get to know about any loopholes that might exist and correct them in good time.
When monitoring APIs, one needs to have insights into the options they can employ. This requires one to understand how their customers use the APIs. The two most common options include;
- Single Call APIs: These are APIs that require a single call for a transaction to be initiated and completed. They are best monitored using a web service monitor.
- Multi-Call APIs: Unlike single call APIs, the multi-call APIs require multiple calls for a transaction to be initiated and completed. You need to make sure that you are using the right API monitoring tools when checking the availability, performance, functionality, and security of these APIs.
Which APIs Should You Monitor?
You should make sure that you monitor all the APIs that you use or provide. However, your API monitoring can be guided by the type of APIs that you use. For example;
- Critical Third-Party APIs: If you are using an API for your applications or services, you need to monitor the API as if it was yours. You can use a monitoring tool that lets you know when the API has issues.
- APIs You Publish: Whether internal or external, an API that you publish is your responsibility. Many people might be using the API and they rely on you to make sure that the API performs as required.
- Other APIs: You might have implemented third-party APIs that are not critical to your applications. Even though they might not be critical, you might want to monitor them depending on the functionality they offer your applications.
If you manage to offer APIs that meet their requirements, you not only contribute to retaining and making customers happy but also keeping a productive team. On the other hand, APIs that fail end up using a lot of resources, and affect the reputation and productivity of a company negatively. API monitoring helps in mitigating such negative effects on the operations of a company.