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April 21, 2022

4 API Testing Challenges to Overcome In 2022

API Lifecycle Management

API testing is a critical aspect to the performance, security, and reliability of both your APIs and the systems they are built upon. Furthermore, API testing allows you to find issues with your APIs before your consumers do. Because when APIs fail, no one will be happy about it. So how do you get started? And as your APIs spiral into the dozens or hundreds, how do you keep up with testing? Most importantly, why should you bother?

To begin with, API attacks are the leading security threat in 2022. API testing is one important part of protecting yourself from attacks. And API testing has evolved over the years. A decade ago you might have dealt with a handful of APIs. This meant testing could be performed in a relatively straightforward fashion by a small team.

Today, APIs have become the beating heart of a your digital transformation strategy. So, you need a means for overcoming the barriers you face in your API testing.

When it comes to API testing, the following are the top challenges organizations face in 2022 and how you can overcome them.

1: Fragmented Ownership Over API Testing Processes

Within any organization, there are a number of test operations happening across software, database, and API technologies. Testing often involves development teams, QA, continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) pipelines, API administrators, and various business stakeholders. So, how do you sort out who owns API testing processes? It can often become a fractured process. And when that happens, performance issues can arise.

Because APIs will touch every aspect of your business, it’s critical that you take a centralized approach to API testing oversight. Furthermore, your APIs may integrate external software and systems that require added oversight and security procedures. Therefore, relegating API testing to one team or a small corner of your business won’t work.

Instead, you need an API management platform that can sync with common API testing tools. And you need stakeholders and management staff to coordinate integrated and automated API testing at regular intervals. This can work in a number of ways, but the following structure can help your team overcome fractured testing procedures:

  • Define the API testing team: This consists of API administrators, CI and CD developers, and relevant stakeholders. Together, you must come up with a coordinated process for API testing that ensures APIs are tested rigorously on an ongoing basis.
  • Shift-left and automate: Select an appropriate API management and API testing platform that can scale up or down based on your evolving API footprint. Instead of testing after APIs have been developed and scaled, begin your testing regimen at the outset of your API development process. You should begin testing alongside the earliest development phases.
  • Align API testing with monitoring and analytics: Your API testing, monitoring, and analytics processes can also become fractured. A much better approach is consolidate your testing, monitoring, and analytics data to a single dashboard where you can view the health of your entire API ecosystem in a single environment.

2: Confusion Over Functional, Performance, & Security Testing

When it comes to API testing, you have functional API testing, performance/load testing, and security testing. Functional API tests ensure the API is operating in the intended fashion. This is usually the first to be conducted. Performance testing determines whether your APIs perform optimally under changing demands, or under various loads. API security testing is conducted to determine how your APIs will perform against various threat vectors. Many teams will split these test types, or even use different software for each approach.

A much smarter method is to utilize a software and process that accounts for all test types at the same time. This dynamic and automated approach can save your team hundreds of hours. Additionally, you can leverage software with real-world test environments allowing you to see how your APIs will perform in various conditions, without opening them up to the security threats of a live environment.

The final distinction is the difference between testing API backend code versus testing published API products. Many professionals get these confused. Or, elect to perform one without the other. By using mock endpoints, BlazeMeter allows you to conduct API product testing while API code is still in production. Or to put it more plainly, to operate using a continuous testing CI/CD approach. Using this method, you can create API products or code first, or vice versa, and still meet testing requirements in real-time.

Finally, do not forget about availability testing. This allows you to test the availability of virtual endpoints and any physical endpoint that is accessed as part of request processing.

3: Failure to Perform Ongoing API Testing

Many teams will perform API testing prior to launching and stop testing once APIs are pushed into a live environment. This is more of a traditional approach. As you likely know, every digital environment is evolving rapidly. Developer portals, end user environments, and API ecosystems are no different. Which means the tests you perform on APIs one month may not be relevant  a few months down the line.

Instead of one-and-done API testing, your program should take a cue from CI and CD processes. You should be testing and monitoring your APIs in their live environments at regular intervals in order to ensure that any future challenges are mitigated. You might be thinking, won’t my analytics tell me what’s happening? Yes and no. Your monitoring and analytics will help you keep tabs on API benchmarks you’ve selected as relevant. Yet they cannot account for any unforeseeable shifts or threats that arise. This is exactly what we witnessed with the Log4j threat which emerged in December 2021.

So how do you stay ahead of future threats? Synthetic monitoring (a pre-emptive approach) allows you to spot issues before your API consumers do. By staying abreast of the latest threats and performance issues in the market using the above methods, you can perform continuous API testing to ensure you stay ahead of any challenges that may arise.

4: Challenges With API Security Testing

A critical step in any API risk assessment are your security testing protocols. Yet as API security threats grow each year, API security testing must likewise evolve. Many organizations are struggling to keep up.

There are many tools available for API security testing. To begin with, use the tools you have within your API management suite. Using Akana, you can utilize our Test Client (non-live environment) to test security policies configured for OAuth, JOSE Security and mTLS (for example). This test environment can be used internally and by prospective clients to validate your APIs, from a functional and security perspective. This gives your team data on how your API will perform when fully released. Next, you can use BlazeMeter by Perforce to perform complex API monitoring that will keep you ahead of any threats.

Simplifying API Testing With Akana and BlazeMeter

As a full lifecycle API management software, the Akana API Management platform supports API testing best practices. Additionally with access to BlazeMeter by Perforce, you can create comprehensive API testing protocols that account for performance, functional, and API security testing.

With the Akana API management suite and BlazeMeter, clients can:

  • Rapidly and easily create, publish, and manage APIs across the entire lifecycle
  • Access best-in-class security and authorization features using our proven API gateway, developer portal, as well as BlazeMeter API testing
  • Gain powerful business intelligence through advanced monitoring and analytics capabilities to keep you ahead of performance and security issues
  • Improve governance and oversight outcomes with Akana’s leading platform security, as was recently featured in KuppingerCole’s Leadership Compass
  • Publish RESTful, SOAP, GraphQL APIs in a single developer portal

After a year in which Akana saw record growth, the Akana API Management platform and BlazeMeter are prepared to support robust API management and testing practices well beyond many of our top competitors.

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