Microservices are the future. In fact, microservices are very much the present, according to figures from SoftwareAG, which show that 85 percent of large organisations are already using microservices. Allied Market Research, meanwhile, projects that the booming global microservices architecture market will reach a value of $8.073 million by 2026.
Such large-scale microservice adoption means streamlining architectures to achieve cost efficiencies and facilitate seamless customer experiences is essential. An API gateway is one effective way to deliver on both fronts. As such, let’s explore how an API gateway microservices architecture could meet your business needs while keeping your customers happy.
Introducing API management into a microservices environment brings all the benefits an API gateway can provide – security, traffic management, caching, scalability, observability, easy versioning and more. It also introduces standardisation and streamlining at every stage of the API management process, from design and creation to publishing, monitoring and eventual sunsetting.
What are microservices, and why are they important in 2023?
Microservices are small, individual services built around business capabilities. Their use solves many of the issues associated with monolithic applications, where everything is so tightly coupled that the spectre of breaking changes is ever present when you try to plan an update or roll out a fix.
Refreshingly, microservices run their processes, with different development teams able to serve as domain experts for other services. Integration and communication occur via HTTP resource APIs (usually).
Microservices are important as they provide businesses with multiple benefits. Key among these is the ability to flex and scale services much faster in monolithic environments. Businesses can get to market faster, isolate and deal with faults and failures more rapidly, enjoy greater resilience, upgrade and migrate more easily and reap all the benefits of operating in an agile, flexible manner.
The role of API gateways in microservice architectures
Adding an API gateway into the mix amplifies those benefits. In a microservices context, the API gateway serves as a single, unified point of entry for clients wishing to access your services. This presents scope to reuse components, optimise your costs, and tinkering behind the scenes, building and implementing new services without the client noticing any changes.
API management tools, such as a gateway for microservices, also deliver security benefits. You can implement security policies at the gateway layer rather than needing to do so for every microservice. This streamlines the process, provides greater efficiency, and standardises security across different services.
Routing traffic through an API gateway also provides plenty of flexibility when choosing microservices, with the flowing traffic smoothly between clients and a wide range of services, transforming requests and responses as required while delivering a smooth user experience.
Best practices for API gateway implementation in 2023
Not all API management solutions are equal. As such, if you want to streamline your microservices, it’s important to find the right gateway for your use case and follow best practice implementation guidance. Here’s how.
Choosing the right API gateway solution
There are plenty of API software companies out there to choose from, so how do you know which is best for your microservices architecture?
Open-source vs proprietary solutions
First, there’s the whole API gateway open source versus closed source debate. It’s no secret that Tyk comes down on the open source side of this discussion. We believe in being free from the limitations of proprietary code, which is why our API gateway is fully open source. You can use it with whatever tools suit you best and enjoy outstanding community collaboration and support.
Features to look for in an API gateway
It’s also important to look for numerous other features in an API gateway platform. Security, performance and minimal introduced latency are all key considerations. So is how easy the gateway is to get up and running.
The quality of the support that comes with any API management service you are considering is also important – rapid, responsive support by experts committed to helping your business can make all the difference when you need a hand with something.
From a technical perspective, it’s time to think about several features that facilitate a solid microservices-focused architecture. In the case of Tyk, that means benefitting from:
- Service discovery – providing accessibility through configuration, automation or the powerful Tyk dashboard GUI.
- Load balancing – weight your requests and load balance your API and gRPC traffic with ease.
- Circuit breakers – hook into Tyk’s events handler in order to take appropriate action when a circuit breaker trips.
- Enforced timeouts – use the Tyk dashboard to configure your API timeouts for total flexibility and control.
- Uptime tests and liveness checks – supporting you to bypass unhealthy nodes and ensure the healthy operation of your microservices architecture.
Designing a microservice API for an API gateway
Designing APIs for microservices using an API management solution means you can benefit from efficient, streamlined design processes. This is essential if you want your APIs – and your microservices – to deliver the performance you need.
Best practices for microservice API design
Performance must be front and centre of your attention when designing APIs for microservices. The faster requests can return responses, the better. As such, it’s important that you design your APIs to balance payload size with chattiness to avoid an unnecessary build-up of traffic between your different microservices.
Using the OpenAPI Specification (OAS) has also emerged as the best practice when it comes to API design for microservices. By providing a standard format for the API contract, OAS supports better service exposure and easier interoperability through machine and human-readable APIs.
API documentation and versioning
Clear, helpful documentation is essential for any API’s success. In a microservices environment, it supports internal teams to work with APIs while underpinning the easy reusability of components.
API versioning can also support the streamlining of microservices, with versioning adapted to meet business requirements and designed to support scaling. Backwards compatibility is, of course, a must, as is ensuring you update your API documentation for each new version.
API testing and validation
Testing and validation are also essential to the success of any API. In a microservices architecture with an API gateway, you can test performance by sending requests and validating responses against pre-defined requirements to ensure everything is performing as it should be.
Ensuring security and scalability in your microservice API gateway
An API gateway for microservices can work wonders to ensure security and scalability. Adding a layer of abstraction enables you to implement policies and make changes at the gateway layer.
Securing your microservice API gateway
In security terms, the API microservice gateway eliminates direct contact between the backend and the frontend. This helps to keep microservices secure from SQL injection attacks and other threats. It also makes it easy to implement robust authentication and authorisation processes.
Scaling your microservice API gateway
By streamlining so many processes, an API gateway for microservices also supports businesses to scale. This is another area where API gateway solutions come into their own, enabling high scalability for microservices – particularly when Kubernetes comes into play.
Using an API gateway is the logical choice if you need to scale horizontally. You can provide high availability for your microservices using small servers, then add more instances as your traffic grows.
Given the benefits that adopting microservices can deliver in terms of flexibility, agility, resilience, performance, security, scalability and so much more, the potential for the continued growth of microservices architectures is huge. They are well suited to continuous integration and continuous delivery (CICD) pipelines, with automation and streamlining meaning that businesses can continue to push boundaries when it comes to getting their products to market.
The evolving landscape of microservices and API gateways in 2023
As the use of microservices continues to grow, so does the landscape around those services. According to Ionir’s Stateful Applications Report 2022, over 50 percent of organisations surveyed reported that moving to Kubernetes was critical to business success. Meanwhile, the API management market is projected to grow to $8.41 billion by 2027, based on research by Market Data Forecast.
Predictions for the future of microservice API gateways
An API gateway can bring extensive business benefits. When used as part of a microservices architecture, it can lay the foundations for rapid and robust growth. Businesses can use this approach to overcome the problems historically associated with monolithic applications, swapping out those issues for a more loosely coupled setup that provides greater flexibility.
This gives organisations the power to take a code-driven approach to scaling their microservices. If your business plans to use microservices to get ahead, it’s time to find out more about embracing an ultra-flexible API gateway microservices solution.