If you’re thinking about migrating from your existing API gateway to Tyk, there are a few things you should consider. To help you in this process, we’ve detailed a range of considerations below, from cost to compliance to support. We’ve also included a handy checklist covering key considerations when migrating to a new platform, and some tips on planning for a successful migration.
Approaching your APIM migration strategy
As with any major operational decision, it’s important to start by laying out the business objectives of your plan to migrate. Mapping these out up front will provide clarity regarding the purpose of the migration and what you need it to achieve.
Common reasons for API gateway migration involve the overall vision for the company’s future driven by evolving requirements, cost, and enhanced tech. Let’s take a quick look at each of these.
Companies grow and evolve over a period of time, and with that their core business and technology drivers change too. In some case, this involves outgrowing the systems currently in use. If your current system no longer meets your operational needs or doesn’t align with your future direction, it would be strategic to migrate to a system that helps you achieve your business goals.
As with every commercial decision, cost is a factor. Technology and tools change constantly, so there may now be more cost-effective solutions in the market to meet your business needs. A key discussion here is about having a self-managed infrastructure that provides a lot of control versus having a SaaS-based solution that is easy to setup and maintain.
Is your company an early adopter that likes to stay at the forefront of technology? If so, this desire to adopt new tech could underpin your migration plans. Are there specific features around compliance or standards, for example, that newer technology can deliver better than your current system?
Checklist: key considerations when choosing your API management platform
Choosing an API management platform and taking the decision to migrate is not a simple process. There are five key considerations that you need to weigh up:
- Vendor lock-in
These considerations all play into the decision to migrate to a new platform, so let’s explore each in turn.
Any new system usually comes with either an upfront purchase cost or a lifetime cost – or both. Additionally, you need to factor in the cost of staff resources, consultancy and any operational disruption as a result of the migration.
It is important to consider the level of control you want to have over your solution’s infrastructure. Is there a SaaS based solution that could meet your requirements? If so, how will it affect your total cost of ownership?
Also, how accurately are you able to forecast demand and identify the expected frequency of calls to your APIs? How will you manage periods of spikes? What does business as usual look like? Understanding the frequency and volume of calls will enable you to choose between a pay per call plan and a fixed cost plan.
Views vary from company to company regarding the importance of vendor lock-in. Some are happy to buy into a specific ecosystem, while others prefer a more flexible, vendor-agnostic solution.
Much of this comes down to the balance between control and convenience – which is more important to you? Does being part of a specific vendor ecosystem (such as AWS or Azure) meet your requirements? And will it continue to do so in the future? Is there a chance you may need to move to a different system? If so, how easy or difficult will the process be?
Buying into an established ecosystem can have the benefit of multi-service package deals and easy movement/upgrades within that ecosystem.
However, you need to weigh that up against the difficulty and cost of moving out of that system in the future. Equally, will you still have the level of control that you need over the entire API management journey, including hosting, features and extendability? If not, a modular way to set up and manage things will be the answer, as it will buy you more control and make it easier to switch components as part of an overall solution. Of course, the downside to this is a potentially elaborate set up and management process.
Work through all of these considerations in order to help establish your business appetite for migrating to a new platform.
Depending up on the industry you or your users belong to, you may have specific standards/compliance requirements.
Consider, for example, whether you need your system hosted within a specific environment or geographical region. What are the compliance requirements around data storage and privacy? Are you expecting any new updates to these standards? How will it affect your business?
Your choice of platform needs to address these issues and provide at least the same degree of adherence to those requirements as your current setup, if not enhance your compliance.
The degree of expertise available in your company will play a significant role in the decision to migrate. What is the existing knowledge base within the company? Will the team be able to set up the system and to maintain it on an ongoing basis?
Control comes into play here too. If your business has plenty of in-house expertise, a self-managed solution, which provides greater control, maybe the best route forward. If your team is less technical, a SaaS solution could be the better choice. Of course, there are also hybrid options available, so you can mould the migration solution that you are considering around your available expertise.
Our final and often overlooked migration consideration is support. You need to establish the level of support that your team will require through the migration process and beyond. Consider the need to define and confirm this through a service level agreement.
As part of your research into possible migration solutions, evaluate how good the support setup of the solution provider in question is, and how responsive/helpful/knowledgeable they are likely to be if you’re in urgent need. Look at their Service Level Agreements(SLAs) and be sure to read testimonials regarding their quality of service – not just about the product but also about the customer experience!
Planning your migration: planning for success
When it comes to migration, plan, plan and plan! Planning for success, including defining what success looks like, is essential to ensuring that your migration goes smoothly. It also allows you to identify and manage risks, including creating a mitigation strategy in case of migration failure.
The migration plan should identify key parts of the migration, the risk associated with them and define the process to be followed in each instance. Here are some of the common elements to be addressed in your migration and risk management plan:
- Features – out of the box as well as custom
- API endpoints
- API keys
- User data
- User authentication
Work through the risks related to each. For user authentication, for example, consider where this is currently handled (whether through a separate system, such as Active Directory or by the current API management platform) and what the implications of that are in relation to the proposed migration.
Planning for success also requires a solid understanding of the new system. If you/your team need technical training, be sure to get everyone up to speed. It’s also important to understand the vocabulary being used in relation to the new system so that nothing gets lost in translation. Bear in mind that a term in one system may not mean the same thing in another!
Finally, if you’re about ready to take the plunge and migrate, test the water first by running a sample migration within a test environment for proof of concept. By doing so, you will be able to:
- Test the migration scripts
- Test network protocols/firewall settings
- Check and account for dependencies
- Identify and test edge cases
- Test the deployment lifecycle across environments
- Perform load testing, integration testing and penetration testing
All of this might seem like a significant amount of work, but it’s an investment of time and energy that is invaluable in the long run. A detailed migration strategy will, not only enable your company to choose the right API management platform, but also ensure a smooth and successful migration process, powering your present and future business growth.