7 min read

The Gatekeepers of Tech: API Gateway

Apr 19, 2021 2:39:01 PM

The sheer amount of data processed on a day-to-day basis poses a challenge to anyone and anything. According to the latest estimates, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being generated each day. To get your head around this figure - here’s what it looks like in numerical terms: 


Put in another way; if you were to find this many American pennies, it would cover Earth - five times over. Data velocity is only set to increase in the coming years, and companies need to build the infrastructure to manage the data efficiently. A vital component of this are API gateways.  


APIs: The Engine Room of Digitized Businesses 

The digitization of businesses over the last decade has seen a rise in the use of APIs. Reliable statistics on global API growth are difficult to come by, but South Korea’s annual uptake on open-source APIs has skyrocketed from 613,000 units to over 3 million between 2018 and 2020. To understand its popularity, it’s essential to understand what APIs do. 

In short, APIs serve as integration points for multiple software programs and platforms. An API (Application Programming Interface) allows two programs to communicate with each other, ensuring a smooth user experience. Whether you are using Facebook, checking the news, or finding your favorite podcast on Youtube, you will likely be using an API - without knowing. 

As well as supporting the user experience, APIs can be used to synergize multiple systems such as Salesforce and Netsuite. The ability of APIs to manage and format data enables these systems to integrate smoothly without any bugs.  


Introducing the API Gateway 

The API gateway’s role is to act as an authenticator of the data before entering the main API ecosystem. The purpose is to prevent APIs and their management systems from being overburdened. As APIs make an ever-increasing presence in businesses, the role of the gateway becomes more critical. In an ideal world, an API would be able to accept a request and send a response. 

However, a client requesting a service or product from a business will likely go through multiple APIs, each with its own functions. The gateway ensures the requests are processed with the correct data for the different APIs and sends the response back to the client. Here’s a few examples of how the gateway works: 

  • An authentication service and rate-limiting. 

  • Connect APIs to analytics and monitoring tools to track performance 

  • Integrate APIs with payment and billing platforms 

  • A single request could require calls to dozens of distinct applications and need to be processed sufficiently 

  • Act as an entry point for clients even as new APIs are added and old ones removed. Your clients will continue to use the same platform without noticing any change 

The variety of tasks an API gateway can carry out makes it an essential component in the wider API network. Without it, businesses can become overloaded with data and judder to a halt as programs struggle to process API requests. 


A Vital Cog in the Machine 

With APIs being widely regarded as a driving force in the digital economy, it pays to ensure they are well-oiled machines with the right fuel. The gateway can be that vital valve that controls the flow and quality of data into the APIs.  

Within an advanced API management system, like Universal Adapter, the gateway plays a critical role in the efficiency of APIs. As well as data management, it can provide an extra level of flexibility for companies. For example, a gateway allows businesses to adjust, add, and remove APIs without affecting the user experience - whether they are workers or customers.  

As the digital era continues to evolve, it’s inevitable that innovations in technology will provide new, more efficient solutions for businesses. Having an API gateway in place will enable companies to implement such solutions with minimal disruption. 


Gateway to Growth 

Given the growing importance of APIs in the digital economy, API gateways will be an ever more critical part of the network. With data streaming in at record levels, essential software and programs can quickly become overwhelmed and business operations severely disrupted. By having an API gateway in place, companies can dramatically reduce the risk of such events occurring. 

Businesses that act preemptively to minimize disruptions will be better placed to take advantage of APIs and technology benefits. In short, API gateways can be the pathway to growth, through simplifying the client experience in the face of complex software and integrations. 

By incorporating the API gateway into the wider digitization strategy, companies have the opportunity to gain an edge over their competitors. A recent survey, for example, indicated that only 25% of German respondents said their business was digitized. In the UK, this figure was even lower - at 5%.  

The cost of falling behind can be seen in the findings of another survey, this time by Deloitte. It found businesses that have reached digital maturity were three times more likely to report higher profits than those who have not.  

While API gateways are not the magic bullet, there is little doubt they serve as a vital component of the digital supply chain. The impact on the customer experience, the management of data, and the link between the front and back-end of systems are all invaluable. The gateway connects each of those elements and supports the journey towards growth. 

Peter Edlund

Written by Peter Edlund