As enterprises seek rapid application development, microservices become the de-facto architectural choice due to their inherent ability to decouple or break down applications into multiple services.
Each of these services has its distinct APIs, which brings into focus the element of effective API management and versioning. Without API management, microservices can face challenges navigating through a network of endpoints, protocols, and authentication requirements. Additionally, an API gateway is required as the "middle-man" that accepts API calls from the client and forwards them to the correct service.
Further, as microservices increase in number and complexity, API versioning is needed to maintain APIs for various clients and use cases. From a technical standpoint, an efficient microservices ecosystem requires an underlying mixture of API gateways, management, and versioning. Let's take a closer look at how this works.
Why Are API Gateways Important in Microservices?
Typically, in microservices, client applications interact with multiple services through a variety of mechanisms. This form of direct client-to-microservice communication can lead to multiple challenges, including:
- Mismatches between the client and the APIs of each microservice
- Non-standard interfaces and protocols
- Refactoring issues for direct client communication with the service
Hence, it's hardly feasible for clients to "talk" with microservices directly. With an API gateway as a "single-entry" point, client requests can pass through APIs seamlessly. API gateways are mainly responsible for routing requests, composition, and translating protocols.
Here's a profound look at why API gateways are important for microservices:
Centralized Access to Microservices
API gateways can simultaneously handle multiple API calls – and forward them to various backend services. Thus, a gateway acts as a central point for decomposing client calls into many requests to microservices.
Managing Distributed Services
With the horizontal scaling of microservices, API gateways can perform load-balancing among replicas of a single service, thus optimizing resource allocation. They also improve traffic routing or rerouting client requests to healthy instances.
Overall, API gateways in microservices offer a host of benefits like improved security, scalability, and flexibility. Equally, organizations must use advanced patterns for effective API management and versioning.
API Management and Versioning – Patterns and Strategies
When it comes to deploying API gateways, API management provides the right tools and frameworks to scale up the operations. Effectively, API management means creating and managing APIs on existing microservices.
In the case of cloud-native applications, every application must have business capabilities available to its internal and external customers. Here's how API management works for users of cloud-native applications:
- Improving the API engagement
- Integrating cloud-native applications with other third-party services
- Monetizing API consumption
- Extracting business insights through analytics
Besides API management, API versioning is also necessary to create multiple versions of any API. It ensures smooth integration and prevents disruptions. With more added services, API versioning can accommodate more changes without impacting the existing clients.
Efficient API management and versioning are not achievable without implementing the right patterns. In that light, here are three advanced patterns to choose from:
1. Centralized API Manager
This pattern is effective for a new microservice architecture. The centralized API manager layer performs the functions of discovering, authenticating, and managing each microservice. This pattern also involves a message broker to execute asynchronous communication between services.
2. Micro API Gateway
This pattern is also useful for a new microservice framework. Here, microservices are implemented as backend systems. Notably, this pattern can be leveraged in scenarios comprising both microservices and monolithic applications.
3. Hybrid Microservices
This pattern is most suitable in hybrid environments comprising both microservices and off-the-shelf software products. Easy to implement, hybrid patterns are also applicable to enterprises with traditional monolithic applications running at the backend.
Additionally, organizations can implement the following strategies for effective API versioning:
1. Client Libraries
Client libraries are necessary to create and manage APIs with version control. With their high-level API interface, client libraries can abstract details of the API endpoint. With regular updates, they can support new API versions.
2. API Versioning Best Practices
Organizations must also follow the best practices of API versioning, like semantic versioning and using API endpoint version numbers. This enables clients to identify the API version they are interacting with and adapt to the API changes.
Also Read: What You Need to Know About API as a Service
3. CI/CD Pipelines
With continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, organizations can automate updates to their API clients for new API versions. CI/CD pipelines can automatically test clients for compatibility with various API versions.
4. API Documentation
As the final strategy for API versioning, API developers must provide updated API documentation for all supported versions. Documentation must include steps on how to interact with every API version and the latest API changes. With this strategy, clients can adapt faster to new API versions.
The Final Word
Today, product development initiatives are increasingly reliant on microservices. And that bodes well since this technology is the best answer for improving application management, scalability, and more.
At Wissen, we ensure our customers implement the best practices and solutions for developing new applications. We enable digital transformation through our services in application development, intelligent automation, AI and machine learning, and big data analytics.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we help enterprises successfully implement microservices.