APIOps to the rescue: say goodbye to manual API deployments

We’re diving into the world of APIOps, where automation reigns supreme, and manual tasks are a thing of the past. APIOps is all about streamlining your API deployment process, and we’re here to show you how to do it with Tyk, your trusty API management platform sidekick.

What is APIOps?

APIOps, short for API operations, is the practice of automating API deployment and management processes. It’s like DevOps but specifically tailored for APIs.

By embracing APIOps, you can reduce human error, increase efficiency, reduce time to market, roll back changes if things go south, and make your API deployment process as smooth as a well-oiled machine.

Why API platform teams are implementing APIOps

APIOps is often implemented and practised by an API platform team, with the sole responsibility of managing the API infrastructure (API Gateways, control plane etc.) and governance in which developers can build and deploy APIs using highly iterative and automated workflows for the entire API life cycle.

Here’s why APIOps is beneficial: 

1. Establishes a standard API testing and deployment workflow

Keep your APIs from slipping through the cracks when it comes to testing! Testing every deployed APIs to ensure compliance and keep those pesky security breaches at bay is crucial. For instance, you can ensure that all APIs require proper authentication and validate the request payload against JSON schemas. 

Integrating these checks into your CI/CD pipeline allows you to automate the process and make it a breeze. The platform team in charge of the pipeline might loosen up some of these checks in the development environment to speed up the development cycle while keeping a watchful eye on production environments.

2. Ensures synchronisation between services and APIs

API developers can conveniently version control their source code and API configurations in the same repository, ensuring they’re always on the same page. 

Let’s say you’re adding a new endpoint to your API; you can handle the necessary code changes and API configurations in a single pull request (PR). That means less hassle and confusion when managing multiple changes that must be deployed simultaneously.

3. Maintains API backward compatibility

APIs are the go-to communication interface between teams and systems, so staying true to the API contracts is vital to not messing up backward compatibility. By spinning up APIs and running tests for each change, you can quickly catch any breaking or backwards-incompatible changes. 

This proactive approach helps you maintain API contracts and prevents potential disruptions to systems downstream that rely on your APIs.

4. Leverages API metrics for progressive deployment

API management platforms can provide actionable feedback for your software release through API analytics. You can leverage metrics like API response times and error codes to guide your software releases. For example, you can use them in an automated canary deployment to determine if the new version of your API is a success and should be continued or if it’s better to roll back. 

It’s all about making data-driven decisions and ensuring smooth-sailing software delivery.

Automating API deployment in the CI/CD pipeline helps enforce API standards, ensure API quality, support API-first development, and rock data-driven progressive deployment. If you’re curious about how to automate API deployment in Tyk, keep reading to find out.

The challenges to automating API deployment

Here are three common challenges that are slowing teams down when they start automating API deployment:

1. Automating API Deployment in API management

Once an API developer has built and deployed their backend service, how can they automate onboarding their APIs in the API management platform? Good question. It can be a real puzzle to figure out the best way to streamline this process and ensure that it doesn’t slow down your APIs developers.

2. Managing multiple environments

Many organisations work in different environments, like production and development. After one API has been deployed and tested in the development environment, how do you smoothly migrate all the API configurations to another environment? Ensuring that everything is correctly transferred without any hiccups can be quite a headache.

3. Coordinating changes in a shared API management instance

When you have multiple API teams working on the same API management instance, how can you make sure they don’t accidentally interfere with each other? Establishing proper coordination and governance is essential to prevent teams from stepping on each other’s toes and causing conflicts or disruptions.

Designing your API deployment workflow

When it comes to tackling these challenges, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution that works for every organization. Designing the API deployment workflow involves considering various factors and making thoughtful choices.

Let’s explore a couple of key areas:

1. People and process

  • Are you dealing with a single API team or multiple teams collaborating on a shared API Management (APIM) instance?
  • Do you have a central team responsible for handling all deployments, or does each API team deploy their creations directly from development to production?

2. Tools and technology

  • Which CI/CD tools are you currently using? Are you running popular pipeline tools like Jenkins or CircleCI, or are you exploring more cutting-edge options like GitOps with Kubernetes using tools like ArgoCD or Flux?
  • How is your source code repository structured? Have you established a solid foundation for managing environments and configurations within your repository?

API deployment options with Tyk

When it comes to deploying APIs, Tyk gives you all the flexibility you need, whether you want to go manual or fully automated. Let’s explore them:

Dashboard UI

For trial, POC users, or those who just want to get their hands dirty with Tyk, the API manager dashboard is here for you. It’s a user-friendly web admin portal where you can import, create, and configure APIs. The changes you make on the dashboard are instant, making it perfect for testing, learning, and playing around. Keep in mind, though, that this process is manual and can’t be automated.

Tyk Gateway API / Tyk Dashboard API

If you’re more into programmatic control, Tyk has you covered with the Tyk Gateway API (for OSS users) and the Tyk Dashboard API (for enterprise users). These APIs allow you to manage everything in Tyk, from APIs, policies, and keys to portals. But hey, fair warning; running them repeatedly across different environments requires some effort. For example, you’ll need to check if an API already exists in an environment before deciding whether to create or update a new one.

Tyk Sync

Now, here’s where things get more exciting. We have a tool to help you move from imperative control to declarative deployment. With Tyk Sync, migrating APIs and policies across environments becomes a breeze. The CLI tool lets you flexibly export and import your API configurations across different environments. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Use Tyk Sync to export your configured APIs and policies into a file directory or a Git source repository. These files become your declarative configuration files.
  • Optionally, modify the exported API definitions for the next environment. You may want to update these configurations on the Git branch or directory that represents the next environment.
  • Trigger Tyk Sync to import the configurations from the file directory or Git source repository to another environment. Tyk Sync ensures a portable ID in each API and Policy resource that remains unchanged during migration.

Tyk Operator

Ready for some next-level automation? You could configure CI/CD to synchronise changes from Git to Tyk using Tyk Sync; however, this synchronisation is one way. Tyk Operator is a shiny Kubernetes Operator here to close the gap.  

It leverages the power of Kubernetes to give you drift detection and constant reconciliation for your Tyk APIs and Policies – no more worries about unauthorised changes or drifts in your environment. Tyk Operator works seamlessly with Kubernetes toolings like ArgoCD, Flux, and cert-manager. 

And guess what? DevOps engineers will love this: you can manage everything, from applications and resources to infrastructure and APIs, all with the same Kubernetes cloud-native toolings. Talk about convenience! Plus, Tyk Operator is not limited to controlling self-managed installations running on Kubernetes. It can control any Tyk instances, including Tyk Cloud.

So, with Tyk by your side, you’ve got a range of options to deploy your APIs with ease. Whether you prefer the simplicity of the Dashboard UI, the programmatic control of the Gateway/Dashboard API, the declarative power of Tyk Sync, or the automation magic of Tyk Operator, there’s something for everyone.

Watch this space for our guide to building a CI/CD pipeline for multi-tenant, multi-environment use cases!