Welcome!

@DevOpsSummit Authors: Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, @CloudExpo, @ThingsExpo

@DevOpsSummit: Article

APIs: A Costly Blind Spot | @CloudExpo #API #IoT #DigitalTransformation

The increased adoption of APIs brings with it some exciting opportunities

APIs: A Costly Blind Spot for Your Application
by Priyanka Tiwari

APIs have taken the world by storm in recent years.

The use of APIs has gone beyond just traditional "software" companies, to companies and organizations across industries using APIs to share information and power their applications.

According to SmartBear's State of API 2016 Report:

  • More than half of API providers began developing APIs within the last five years.
  • 1 in 5 API providers began developing APIs in the last two years alone.

The increased adoption of APIs brings with it some exciting opportunities.

For some organizations, APIs are the biggest revenue drivers. For example, Salesforce generates nearly 50% of annual revenue through APIs. In other cases, APIs can increase a business's footprint and initiate collaboration. Netflix, for example, reported over 5 billion calls per day to its API in 2014.

Increasingly, more organizations are adapting 3rd party or public APIs to accelerate R&D and leverage external programming talent. For example Visa, a leading player in highly regulated payment processing industry, recently released a set of APIs that includes 150 endpoints across all Visa products and welcome partners to their API ecosystem.

Another example of a thriving API ecosystem is Fitbit. Who reportedly saved over $1 million in R&D when it opened its APIs in 2011. Since then, hundreds of apps use FitBit APIs to collaborate and innovate.

What does this all mean for you?

All of these examples highlight the incredible opportunity that APIs present. But they also show the importance of API performance. Whether a business is using APIs to generate revenue, increase collaboration, or reduce costs - they need APIs to function properly at all times.

The importance of API performance isn't limited to organizations that provide APIs. For example, if your application depends on a third party API to complete a critical function for your users, you also need to be concerned about how that API is performing.

When an API breaks or malfunctions, your application feels the effects and so do your users.

  • One-third of API consumers will consider switching API providers permanently upon encountering an API quality issue.
  • 31% of consumers will report the problem externally to peers, customers, or partners.

When your application lags or crashes as the result of a problem with a third party app, your users will look to you for a solution and will associate a poor experience with your application, even if the issue is beyond your control.

Unfortunately, when SmartBear asked API consumers about the average time it takes providers to resolve an API quality issue, less than 10% said that issues are resolved within 24 hours. Nearly 1-in-4 said that quality issues remain unresolved for one week or more.

Bottom Line: Simply checking that your API is available is not enough.

If you look closely, APIs are not so different than your other online assets like websites, web applications, and mobile applications. They need to be up and running at all times, need to perform within a threshold defined by the consumer, and need to be functionally correct for all end users.

Gone are the days when performance could be measured in seconds. API performance is measured in milliseconds and simply 1/20th second of a delay could lead to unacceptable user experience and unsatisfied end user.

Functional correctness for APIs is as critical if not more as API availability. If the API doesn't return the right data at right places, it's as good as broken for your app.

What can you do?

First, spend the time to map out your expectations around uptime and response time.

Synthetic monitoring can be used to understand performance of third-party APIs before in pre-production environments. Proactively monitoring your APIs will help understanding infrastructure requirements of your APIs. This step will also help identify API's contribution to the availability and performance of your application.

Next, address the challenges that could keep you from resolving an API issue.

According to the State of API 2016 Report, the three biggest barriers to solving API issues are:

  • Determining the root cause of the issue (45%)
  • Isolating the API as being the cause of the issue (29%)
  • Engaging the correct person(s) to fix the problem (25%)

Addressing these challenges before an issue occurs will limit the amount of time it takes to resolve problems with your API.

Finally, you'll want to invest in the necessary tools to protect your application from API performance problems.

Proactively monitoring the APIs you consume will help you ensure availability, performance and functional correctness of your APIs and the applications that use them. Proactively monitoring the applications for all diverse user cases will help you find and fix issues before they impact your end users. Correlating API performance with the application performance will help you improve overall application performance and isolate faulty components in case of performance degradation.

When setting up your first API monitor, there are a few important steps you'll need to consider:

  • Re-use functional tests from development: Given that your functional API tests are set up to assert and provide relevant error messages, the corresponding API monitors will have the ability to give you much more detailed error information for root cause analysis than regular availability monitors.
  • Create tests that mimic your use cases: If you are mainly integrating with 3rd party APIs, need to make sure that you know about their failures before your users notice. Here it is essential that the monitors you create actually mimic how you use that API. Monitor the entire flow of your use cases; don't just monitor the first API request; monitor them all, in sequence - just like your application uses them.
  • Use a dedicated account: Many (most) APIs require you to specify some kind of credentials or access key in your requests; make sure you are using a dedicated account(s) for your monitoring, both for your own APIs and 3rd party ones.

With the right plan, you'll be able to cover your application's blind spot and ensure that your APIs and apps are exceeding user expectations.

More Stories By SmartBear Blog

As the leader in software quality tools for the connected world, SmartBear supports more than two million software professionals and over 25,000 organizations in 90 countries that use its products to build and deliver the world’s greatest applications. With today’s applications deploying on mobile, Web, desktop, Internet of Things (IoT) or even embedded computing platforms, the connected nature of these applications through public and private APIs presents a unique set of challenges for developers, testers and operations teams. SmartBear's software quality tools assist with code review, functional and load testing, API readiness as well as performance monitoring of these modern applications.

@DevOpsSummit Stories
"DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great team at @DevOpsSUMMIT and CloudEXPO tell the world how they can leverage this emerging disruptive trend."
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve full cloud literacy in the enterprise world.
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO Silicon Valley 2019 will cover all of these tools, with the most comprehensive program and with 222 rockstar speakers throughout our industry presenting 22 Keynotes and General Sessions, 250 Breakout Sessions along 10 Tracks, as well as our signature Power Panels. Our Expo Floor will bring together the leading global 200 companies throughout the world of Cloud Computing, DevOps, IoT, Smart Cities, FinTech, Digital Transformation, and all they entail. As your enterprise creates a vision and strategy that enables you to create your own unique, long-term success, learning about all the technologies involved is essential. Companies today not only form multi-cloud and hybrid cloud architectures, but create them with built-in cognitive capabilities.
DevOpsSUMMIT at CloudEXPO, to be held June 25-26, 2019 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits, DevOps is correlated with 20% faster time-to-market, 22% improvement in quality, and 18% reduction in dev and ops costs, according to research firm Vanson-Bourne. It is changing the way IT works, how businesses interact with customers, and how organizations are buying, building, and delivering software.
The benefits of automated cloud deployments for speed, reliability and security are undeniable. The cornerstone of this approach, immutable deployment, promotes the idea of continuously rolling safe, stable images instead of trying to keep up with managing a fixed pool of virtual or physical machines. In this talk, we'll explore the immutable infrastructure pattern and how to use continuous deployment and continuous integration (CI/CD) process to build and manage server images for any platform. Then we'll show how automate deploying these images quickly and reliability with open DevOps tools like Terraform and Digital Rebar. Not only is this approach fast, it's also more secure and robust for operators. If you are running infrastructure, this talk will change how you think about your job in profound ways.