API Gateways Market Guide 2024

How to choose the right API Gateway software.

Interview: Google Cloud’s New Approach To Reduce API Threats Costing Organizations Billions

API Gateways are used to manage all API calls where a message is sent to a server, requesting information from an API, ensuring that the right information is sent to the right place. API Gateways play an important role within your infrastructure as they manage data from various sources, as well providing centralized control and enhancing the performance and security of APIs.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Why it matters
  • How It Works
  • Best Providers
  • Features Checklist
  • Our Recommendations
  • Future Trends

Why It Matters:

  • 83% of all web traffic is via API (Akamai)
  • 94% of respondents had experiences issues with API security (Salt)
  • The total number of API calls within the financial sector saw a 125% increase (Google Cloud)

How It Works: API Gateways act as a single point for API requests to be sent to, before being distributed to the correct place. In order for this to be achieved accurately, API Gateways work in the following ways:

  1. Accept: API requests are sent from the client to the API gateway, via HTTPS / RESTful APIs
  2. Authentication and Authorization: These requests are then assessed to ensure they are valid (as per preset policies to verify identity and grant appropriate access), and to ensure they are delivered to the correct destination
  3. Request Routing: The requested are then passed on to the relevant destination, allowing the API to be utilized
  4. Response: The response is then passed back to the client, bundling requests together to ensure a streamlined user experience
    1. This is important as one API request might be comprised on many microservices; by combining these, the result is much more manageable and useful

To ensure that this, relatively simple, process is achieved effectively, API Gateways tools can also carry out the following tasks:

  1. Load Balancing: Distributing API traffic across multiple servers to ensure reliability and performance – this prevents bottlenecks from forming, ensuring that service is always reliable.
  2. Rate Limiting: Controlling the number of requests to prevent abuse and ensure fair usage – this helps to maintain the integrity of your servers.
  3. Data Transformation: Modifying request and response data formats to match backend services – this ensures that the information is always usable.
  4. Monitoring and Analytics: Tracking API usage and performance for insights and optimization – this can help you to forecast where you might need to build more capacity in the future.

Best Providers:

Features Checklist

  1. Scalability: As a key part of an API Gateway’s role is to manage traffic, it is essential that your solution actually has the capacity to achieve this – as your company expands (in complexity and scale) it is important to ensure that you API Gateway scales correspondingly.
  2. Security: Robust authentication, authorization, and data protection features are essential for any data management tool, particularly one that acts like a hub, having a central position with your infrastructure.
  3. Performance: Low latency and high throughput to ensure seamless API interactions – load balancing and routing allow you to achieve this.
  4. Integration: Compatibility with existing systems and microservices architecture – your API Gateway is only useful if it can facilitate every API within your network.
  5. Management Capabilities: Comprehensive tools for monitoring, analytics, and policy enforcement.
  6. Customization: Flexibility to customize request routing, transformations, and other behaviors – this ensures that your API Gateway will suit your specific needs and use case.
  7. Developer Portal: Features to support API documentation and developer onboarding – the easier and more streamlined this is, the more productive your team can be.
  8. Fault Tolerance: Resilience features to handle failures and ensure high availability – if these are not in place, a gateway failure could have wide reaching impacts across your network.

Our Recommendations: When looking to adopt an API Gateway, you may need to look beyond the headline features to find the solution that is right for your organization. Our recommendations for companies looking to choose an API Gateway are:

  • For large enterprises: Choose a solution that offers robust scalability and has features in place to handle high API traffic efficiently – this can include load balancing and rate limiting
  • For highly regulated organizations: Ensure that the tool provides advanced security features like OAuth, JWT, and end-to-end encryption
  • For high bandwidth applications: Look for solutions known for low latency and high throughput to ensure that service is maintained
  • Ease of use: Choose solutions that offer intuitive management interfaces and strong support for developer onboarding

Further Reading: