API Monitoring

An application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. Basically, an API specifies how software components should interact.

Additionally, APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together.


What is API Monitoring

API Monitoring refers to the practice of monitoring Application Programming Interfaces, most commonly in production, to gain visibility into performance, availability and functional correctness.

API Monitoring tools are designed to help you analyze the performance of your applications and improve poorly performing APIs. They provide measurements of how long a routine takes to execute, how often it is called, where it is called from, and how much of total time is spent executing that transaction.

Why API monitoring is Critical

Monitoring helps teams answer these key questions: Are the APIs available? How are the APIs behaving? Are the APIs functioning as expected? If APIs fail, your applications fail. APIs fuel modern applications. In digital transformation efforts, APIs are often the building blocks used to push organizations into the modern digital age. As a result, most applications depend on APIs for business critical transactions. Without truly understanding what’s going on behind the scenes with each API endpoint or APIs called in sequence, organizations create blind spots in their performance.

Think of a continuous cycle of development, testing, deployment and monitoring- as engineering organizations embrace Agile practices and other modern techniques for software development, testing and deployment, it is critical that monitoring becomes a required extension of that continuous integration cycle. Maintaining monitoring scripts with the correct and latest versions of the functional tests to ensure uninterrupted availability for the consumers of the services is critical in delivering the experience envisioned in the original design. 

Choosing an API Monitoring Tool

  1. Intuitive – You will not use a tool you do not understand. You especially will not be able to take full advantage of the functionalities if you do not like the tool. Finding an API monitoring tool that is easy to use and instinctual will reduce your ramp up time as well as increase the probability of your reliance on this tool.
  2. Reuse – Find a tool that lets you use what you have got. Reuse scripts from the tools your API developers and testers use to avoid doing the same tasks twice.
  3. Run Options – Keeping your API monitors on a schedule that fits your needs is essential. Almost just as important is the ability to run a monitor on demand – as either a test or a real run.
  4. Sequencing and Assertions – Accuracy is key. APIs transactions that require sequential functionalities should be able to be monitored, so you receive monitoring data that takes into account the big picture functionalities with the detailed step validations.
  5. Consumable and Shareable – A tool that can communicate data easily, swiftly, and clearly is vital to any operation. API performance is no exception. Selecting a tool that aggregates data and visualizes the data properly can help provide instant actionable insights for you to share with your teams to reduce your MTTR (mean-time-to-resolution).
  6. Adaptable – Tool stacks can include all sorts of software. Make sure you have a tool that is adaptable and flexible, so it can fit into your stack, whatever your preferences may be.
  7. Alerts – You have to actually know when something is wrong in order to fix it. Find a tool that prioritizes this, and you will be good to go.
API Monitoring

Wrapping Up

An Application Programming Interface (API) allows two systems to communicate with one another. In other words, an API essentially provides the language and contract for how two systems interact. Furthermore, each API has documentation and specifications which determine how information can be transferred.

APIs expand the capabilities and also functionalities you can offer, without putting a ton of resources behind integrations. Moreover, APIs have potential to add value to your business for customers and employees alike. Therefore, understanding what an API endpoint is and how to measure performance is key in capturing the potential value APIs offer.

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