The Case for A Third-Party API Management Platform for Consumed APIs

The Case for A Third-Party API Management Platform for Consumed APIs

API consumption management is a new field. If you've been building with APIs you already get the problem and know what the fuss is about - scaling your product alongside scaling consumed APIs is a pain. If you're wondering what are some relevant solutions and what an API Management Platform is, this deep-dive is for you.

Eyal Solomon, Co-Founder & CEO

Eyal Solomon, Co-Founder & CEO

July 27, 2023


An API Management Platform for Consumed APIs: What is it and who needs it?

Collectively, you can think of the third-party APIs that your business relies on to deliver its services to your customers as a single, bundled resource. That bundle is as much a part of your tech stack as any other set of tools you use, but it’s one that up until now you’ve been forced to manage and optimize as best you can, and you’re not alone. 

That’s because up to now, there has been no single solution or bundled toolset that allows third-party API consumers to understand their API management requirements, proactively manage their API consumption, control their usage costs, security, performance, and so on. 

As you may have noticed, if you search for ‘API management platforms’ hoping to find a product aimed at API consumers, you’ll instead come across articles or solutions that help API developers instead. 

The phrase that we think best describes what’s needed here is “API Consumption Manager.”

So, who needs to use a tool like this?

  • Developers
  • Architects
  • SREs
  • DevOps
  • Integration / Infrastructure Teams
  • VP RnDs 

What types of tools are currently tackling API consumption (albeit partially and from different angles)?

  • Some visibility platforms
  • API security platforms
  • Infrastructure—middleware built in-house

It seems like the industry needs a new phrase and tool that's more cohesive tool to help API consumers manage their inventories and production issues. Lunar belongs to this currently underserved API management category. It has yet to be widely recognized, but we are on the road to changing that. 

What is an API Consumption Manager?

Integrating APIs is straightforward but managing and optimizing dozens or even hundreds of them later is not. 

As Mark O'Neill, VP of Research at Gartner pointed out in his presentation, The State of the API Industry, at Apidays Paris, 2022, there’s a real gap in the market for solutions that help the API consumer. As a consultant, he recounted that “…one of the questions I get asked is…‘Our organization is consuming lots of APIs, our developers are using different APIs; we're using APIs as part of integrations…to Salesforce and others. Now we want to manage how our organization is using these APIs, we want to be able to see the universe of APIs that we are using (and that we could use) and we want to understand if those APIs go down, if they suffer a security breach, what's going to be the implications for us? Now the problem is there really are not many tools (if any at all) that do this.”

This general lack of oversight can leave you in the dark as to whether your APIs are delivering value or costing you money. 

Consider the effects of unmanaged issues:

  • Rate-limiting can harm user experience for your customers
  • Certain unmanaged APIs can cause high costs in the production environment
  • Lack of control over factors such as load balancing and throttling can cause expensive inefficiencies

With a single point of reference, companies should enjoy the benefits of external API management: view, control, and optimize your API usage, minimize your maintenance costs, and solve your performance issues, to save time and money.

Up to now, API-consuming businesses have just accepted that emerging problems with management and optimization are things they must deal with in-house. They take an ad hoc approach to managing and optimizing their growing inventory of third-party APIs, but even though they may have lost sight of those tools they’re using (and not using), lost track of their spending, and are playing whack-a-mole with fixing the breaking changes that inevitably come with scaling, that doesn't mean there isn't a better approach. There is, and Lunar is at the heart of it. 

Some of the teams we’ve spoken to seemed almost resigned to the notion that escalating technical debt is unavoidable, but with an API Consumption Manager, they, and you, should prepare to be surprised. 

What Teams Are Looking for in Consumed API Management:

  • Controllable and configurable middleware

Infrastructure that provides insight and easy cataloging of their consumed APIs and their uses, filtered according to tags, consumption, clients, and other relevant parameters. 

  • Inventory Creation

A full inventory of their consumed third-party APIs and their endpoints, giving them (perhaps for the first time ever!) centralized oversight and management of all their integrations. They can now locate API endpoints to monitor volume and performance metrics (including latency and error rates) with ease.  

  • Visualization and Data Monitoring

For clear insights into usage patterns and consumption bottlenecks.

  • Error Remediation and Elimination

Fixes to those bottlenecks and consumption problems in production in a fully autonomous way. 

  • Token Management

API tokens are essential for accessing APIs and maintaining security. Token management allows users to prioritize services according to their specific business logic, securely store and mask API tokens, and refresh token activation on an ongoing basis.

  • Caching

Quickly and efficiently create a caching policy based on headers and body parameters. 

API Usage Insights (Metrics, Reporting, and Monitoring)

Mismanagement sometimes arises from a lack of ownership within the organization or the wrong scaling practices. According to the Rapid API Report 2022, over 54% of developers are using third-party APIs (a 49% increase over 2021). Being aware of performance issues can help to improve the time it takes to fix issues and keep you ahead of future issues. 

Establishing a visibility standard on performance and consumption for all stakeholders (from developers to CTOs) that’s easy to access will keep API performance on the agenda. Over time, visibility of breaking changes and poor performance can save overhead and reduce the risk of downtime from unexpected cost spikes.

All stakeholders are beginning to realize that as well as monitoring performance, they need to understand how compliant the API stack is with privacy regulations and security standards. Greater visibility is the answer.

Keep an Eye out for these Deep Solutions

If you’re building middleware or using another tool, consider some of the crucial pains and solutions benefits that Lunar offers.

  • Make it failsafe by design

Lunar is an edge proxy that funnels your traffic, so it integrates well with your infrastructure, but in the unlikely event that it was to ever go down, you would never know. We added built-in failsafe mechanisms to make sure that even if it fails, your traffic won’t be affected. 

  • Low latency

Lunar has a negligible latency of no more than 4ms in the 95th percentile. Consequently, it handles impressive workloads, achieving up to 84,867 requests per second, ensuring optimal performance in its API interactions.

  • Work with your stack

Lunar acts like an additional layer that integrates fully with your tech stack and brings additional management tools, enabling you to build your own logic and configurations, and get customized reports. 

Some Conclusions

API consumption management is a new field. Companies are scaling with APIs and looking to consolidate, unify, and manage their consumption with smart controls. 

Companies of different sizes have already incorporated middleware and methodologies that do this. 

In short, we’ve seen that companies care about managing API consumption at an infrastructure level.Managing caching, throttling, load balancing, and token management is part of what helps us to optimize our consumption, and managing all of these  elements more effectively helps an organization to build up: 

  • Developer-led FinOps
  • Smart tech stack management 
  • DevOps-led infrastructure optimization
  • Lower tech-debt: Less clutter, faster development

Helping developers who are consuming APIs to build amazing applications is at the heart of why we’re building Lunar. 

Lunar gives you the tools to address these problems. It allows your engineers to control and intercept outgoing traffic, build resilience, and enforce policies from a single unified interface. Lunar is the more coherent alternative for overseeing and managing the third-party APIs that your business relies on. 

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