API Monitoring: Meaning, Importance, Tips

What is API Monitoring?

Why Monitoring APIs Is Critical

Whether mobile or on a website, applications increasingly depend on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to exchange data. If an API becomes unavailable or slow to respond, the user experience suffers. This source of frustration can lead to abandoned transactions, lost sales, or even lost customers.

Setting up an API monitor means placing an agent in a location that tests your APIs for responsiveness and availability. You need to monitor API endpoints from the location of your customers to receive reliable data about how those APIs are performing, ultimately keeping your customers happy.

Critical API-Driven Applications

APIs fill the critical connections needed to send and retrieve data between your servers, developers, integrators, and the mobile or web applications your users depend on. APIs can affect the perception of your company.

How do you monitor APIs for uptime and reliability? A synthetic monitoring platform dedicated to service-level assurance, such as the Apica platform, can exercise the entire API pathway and provide metrics that enforce internal and third-party SLAs.

You can be proactive by scripting critical API transactions and scenarios and deploying these to ensure their performance and availability. To ensure that all API-dependent applications work optimally in as many places as possible, set up a global monitoring plan that ensures that your APIs are responding quickly, securely and that their all-important URLs and domains are resolving correctly.

Even if your needs are not global, monitoring your customers’ locations or where your application is commonly consumed/used is prudent and proactive. Since API calls can underpin a public domain, ensure that you monitor both your public domain(s) and your API domains for complete coverage.

Remember, too, that domains and the certificates that secure them can be compromised. Therefore, set up monitoring scripts for just the DNS hostname security and integrity. The Apica platform also offers security-centric monitoring that your APIs require, such as SSL Hostname validation and integrity.

A good API monitoring program will answer these types of questions:

    • Are my API domains resolving in DNS?
    • Every API call starts with DNS. DNS is critical to every transaction. If it is slow to resolve, your API will be slow too.
    • Are my API domains communicating securely?
    • Secure your API communications to authorized users and devices only.
    • Are my API monitoring services set up where my users are located?
    • APIs are dynamic by nature, fetching data that potentially could be thousands of miles away. Performance at the API data center is not the same as where your users are.
    • What percentage uptime does my API service have for the day, week, or month?
    • What performance levels are my APIs in my critical markets in Europe, US, South America, or Asia-Pacific?”
    • Am I staying within my service-level agreements (SLAs) to others?
    • Are third-party dependencies blocking my SLAs?

Apica scripting tools can capture API calls and then script them, adding dynamic test variables and parameters as needed. Then, Apica global agents can execute these API scripts and test for expected values and responsiveness.

Treat your APIs like any critical website or application because they are increasingly essential to functionality and user experience.

Businesses that Revolve Around IoT

With today’s Internet of Things (IoT), devices deliver their gathered data via API calls to API endpoints or get their instructions and updates by polling API endpoints.

These endpoints will potentially transfer billions of data points to and from all your devices. Your customers and applications depend on these communications to be responsive and available 24 x 7.

So, monitoring the APIs that flow between these devices and your infrastructure enables you to validate your IoT devices’ authentication credentials and certificates to ensure security standards are enforced and only authorized devices connect to your infrastructure.

Performance Monitoring Tips for APIs

Load Test Short Term – Monitor Long Term

All APIs should be load tested before production. The Apica API monitoring tools allow you to first script and load test your APIs to gauge their capacity. Then redeploy these same load test scripts as long-term monitoring scripts to our global synthetic agents to understand their demand and performance over time. This means API developers have a better understanding of how their APIs perform under pressure and normally. This also means setting more realistic alarm thresholds for fewer false positives or false negatives.

Monitor for Periodic Changes from Source and Destinations

Given the cyclic nature of specific periods (days (AM/PM), weeks, holidays, months), you should know how much load an API can take or when/where the response is fastest and the slowest. Set up your monitoring plan to account for both the data center and where the content is consumed/seen/used. This dual view of performance and availability will help you quickly isolate if the problem is at the API source or the destination.

Use REST for Your APIs

Use a Representational State Transfer (REST) API monitoring URLs that Apica scripting tools produce. REST URLs are simpler to create and deploy since REST supports more formats and does not require as much bandwidth.

Chain your REST API calls for a more contextual, realistic API monitoring program instead of sending a single API call in isolation.

Apica API Monitoring Services

Hybrid Monitoring

Monitor from the SaaS-based cloud with Apica agents or internally with Apica private agents within the infrastructure for testing and supporting internal-only (or sensitive) intranet applications. Or combine internal and external monitoring for a comprehensive view of the API service.

DevOps Integration

Monitoring select APIs allows testing in production as a DevOps best practice. For those companies that develop in a Continuous Integration/Continuous Development (CI/CD) environment, Apica integrates with popular DevOps tools and chain components like JBoss/WildFly, Docker, Jenkins, Puppet, and more.

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