A platform like Tyk can be very overwhelming for those who are not developers, architects or someone who knows the intricacies of technology. You’ve probably heard your technical team talk about many of the benefits that Tyk brings to your APIs and API programmes but aren’t quite sure exactly what they mean! Well, in this blog we will aim to make some of our favourite benefits more accessible to those who are non-technical. This will hopefully allow you to become a champion for Tyk at your company and shout about the rewards of using an API Management platform in your technical stack even if you aren’t directly using it.
What is an API Management platform AKA what is Tyk?
So your company is heavily utilising APIs within your technology stack and are looking to introduce an API Management platform to the equation. “What is an API Management platform?” is a very common question to ask in this instance! Without being too simplistic, the API Management platform sits between your client (maybe your web app, mobile app, or another system which accesses the APIs) and the actual APIs themselves. In this place, the API Management platform, which is mainly based around its API Gateway component, then receives the requests coming from the clients and forwards them to the correct API. This is the function of the platform/gateway, to be the main route for API requests to come through instead of going directly to the APIs. This means that with API traffic being routed through the gateway, we can now use many features within the API management platform to build our APIs more easily and securely. By adding in the gateway, we have now moved all of this management functionality out of our APIs, which would have had to be coded and configured by the API developers, and into the API management layer which is specifically designed just for this task!
What are the benefits of using Tyk for developers?
As the main group that utilises the API management platform, developers can derive many benefits from using such a technology. Some of these benefits make the developer’s lives much easier and some help to instill confidence in the security of the APIs they are building. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits a bit more closely:
SECURITY RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX
As I’m sure you’ve heard, security is one of the main concerns within organisations today. Although it is a major concern, the reason why data breaches can happen so easily is that adding security into your APIs is actually more tricky than it may seem. When a developer is left with the task of implementing security for the APIs on their own it can lead to a lot of inconsistencies and poor implementations. This is not the developer’s fault, but more just the nature of the fact that there are so many ways to implement security features for APIs it can be overwhelming.
Another issue is that as different teams implement security within their part of the organisation’s API portfolio, they may do so differently. This can lead to many issues when investigating possible vulnerabilities, due to the various implementations, and also leads to issues when patching these vulnerabilities since each implementation may be slightly different.
Here is where a platform like Tyk really shines! Tyk allows developers to implement security at the platform level so that each API can be developed independently and secured after using the same types of security used across the entire API portfolio. How does this look? The API developer would build the API to do exactly what is required of it, then they would deploy that API, configure Tyk to forward requests to the new API, and then set up the needed security right within Tyk. They could then repeat this indefinitely for the rest of their APIs.
From a maintenance and support perspective, if a problem was found within the security configuration, then the admins would just need to patch or update the security settings within Tyk and these changes would roll out to all of the APIs utilising Tyk for securing the APIs. Obviously, this is extremely efficient and also makes life much easier for the support team if a vulnerability is found.
Tyk supports all major types of security and also allows users to create custom implementations if there is a security that they need and we don’t have built. In short, from a security perspective, adding Tyk into your API build, publishing, and support processes is extremely powerful and useful to developers!
MORE PRECISE CODE
Security isn’t the only thing that we can abstract away from the actual API code though. As mentioned above, there are certain aspects to APIs which don’t necessarily belong in the API code but are usually put there because of habit or due to the current processes. With API management and Tyk, developers can focus on coding only what is necessary to actually fulfill the needs of the users of the API they are building. If, for instance, a developer needed to create an API that retrieved user information from the database they could simply create a service that does that and leave some other common tasks up to the API gateway, such as:
- Request and response logging
- Details about incoming data and the data returned from the API
- JSON validation
- Making sure that incoming requests are what the API is expecting and rejecting those that don’t match
- Rate limiting and quota enforcement
- Ensuring that users of the API are only using it as much as they are allowed to
These are just a few common features that would normally be coded and maintained by the API developers. Now, this can be configured easily at the API gateway level leaving the code to be more simple and precise. Code is now only required to do its intended service and not all the extra management pieces as well. This means that the codebase can become smaller, easier to build, and as a consequence, easier to maintain and support.
PLUGINS TO SUPPORT THE GROWING NEEDS OF DEVELOPERS AND THEIR ORGANISATIONS
As more APIs are built, technologies will advance, and organizations grow, the needs of these organisations will grow as well. With Tyk, we have been very conscious of this and from the start decided to make the platform easy to extend to those growing needs. As the Tyk platform has matured, we have added a bunch of plugins that help developers to tackle some of the most common tasks when it comes to building and managing their APIs. These are available out of the box and include the features we mentioned above as well as many more.
These out-of-the-box plugins allow developers to quickly solve common problems right in the gateway itself instead of having to code them up manually. This makes for easier testing and maintenance, which helps to make developer’s lives much easier for these tasks.
What are the benefits of Tyk for the business?
Often the funding to actually bring in a product like Tyk comes from the business supporting the project or initiative. Unless these folks are technical, they may not understand just how valuable a great product like Tyk is to your development team and to your entire organisation. Let’s look at a few of the benefits of Tyk that go beyond the realm of development:
FASTER TIME TO MARKET
With code for API builds becoming simpler by abstracting certain functionality to Tyk, developers can create code more efficiently and testing can also be done more efficiently on those APIs. This efficiency increase means that your team will be publishing APIs more quickly, allowing for project timelines to be shorter. Creating the base functionality for an API is usually the quickest part, it’s all of the API management and security features that usually take large amounts of time, testing, and collaboration to get right. Tyk allows this process to become streamlined and extremely efficient.
MORE CONFIDENCE IN THE SECURITY OF THE API PORTFOLIO
By abstracting security into the API gateway, organisations can now be confident that their security is uniform and robust. With Tyk’s support of all major security authorisation modes and custom ones, the security needs of your organisation can be easily managed now and in the future. This allows for security audits to be done with confidence since API developers are no longer solely responsible for baking security into their code, but can rely on the platform to provide for the security needs of the business.
It also means that in the case of a vulnerability being discovered it can easily be patched across the entire API portfolio. This leads to less downtime and will likely leave your security and support teams with much more confidence knowing that these patches are easily executed and tested.
LOWER DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTENANCE COSTS
With APIs (and most technical products your company may build), there are always 2 major factors to think about that play a part in the cost associated with them: the build costs and then the ongoing costs, also known as cost of ownership. With the abstraction of so many responsibilities to the API Management platform, cost of development and cost of ownership begins to decrease as well. Developers are able to develop services more rapidly, leading to a lowering of project costs and support teams can also rest assured knowing that Tyk allows for a new level of simplicity and monitoring of your APIs.
Configuring Tyk between environments is also very easy. With some of the automation tools that Tyk has introduced over the years (and most recently our Tyk Operator), this means that once a stable configuration is created for your Tyk instance, you can easily replicate this in environments further down the line in your development and testing pipeline. This saves a lot of time and effort compared to manually configuring all of your APIs and their management needs.
ABILITY TO INVESTIGATE API USAGE AND VALUE THROUGH ANALYTICS
Being able to see the usage of APIs is a fantastic way to make sure that they are bringing value to your organisation and to justify the cost of ownership. Even non-technical team members interested in how APIs are performing or are being used can easily dig into the metrics gathered by Tyk. This can be extremely useful when planning an expansion of your existing API programme or are looking to justify or cut costs within the API portfolio that users are currently using.
These analytics can also help out support teams since it is very easy to see what errors are occurring and more importantly, can give the team the tools they need to easily diagnose and fix the issues. Infrastructure Operations teams will also find these metrics useful since you’ll be able to see how APIs performance is doing and possibly tweak your infrastructure to improve performance.
How to let your team know about the power of Tyk!
Now that you know a little bit more about the features of API management and how it can help your organization, we hope you’ll spread the word about how Tyk can improve your organisation’s API portfolio and future API builds!
Depending on your organization’s needs we have 2 common deployment options that allow you to use Tyk:
- Tyk Self-managed: this deployment type allows your team to deploy and configure Tyk on your own infrastructure or in any cloud environment. This option comes with more flexibility but can also be a little more work, however: certain industries will need to go this route for compliance reasons or just out of preference.
- Tyk Cloud: this deployment type is a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solution which means that we take care of all the infrastructure for you here at Tyk and your team just needs to log in and configure Tyk, we handle the rest.
Both of these options can be set up with a free trial so that you can test out Tyk before jumping all-in!
We hope that you and your team will consider all the great benefits that Tyk and API Management can bring to your developers and organization!