May 13, 2021

How to Improve Your Cloud Native Applications With APIs


Cloud-native applications are becoming the norm, with cloud-native APIs connecting them.

In fact, more than 75% of respondents in a recent survey reported they currently host most applications in the cloud. Yet, IT managers and developers may not always agree on why moving to cloud-native is important, and what they want out of it. One thing is for certain, uniting a team around common cloud-native goals will improve both the strategy and implementation of a cloud-native infrastructure.

Whether you are scaling an IoT, mobile, or any other type of application, this will inherently create greater IT complexity. So how do you keep cloud-native from overwhelming your team? Cloud-native API management.

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What Are Cloud-Native Applications?

Cloud-native applications are applications designed, developed, and hosted in public, private, or hybrid cloud environments. They are often built from smaller independent pieces, called microservices. Cloud-native applications speed the delivery of application functionality. That’s because they often use DevOps, continuous delivery, and continuous improvement methodologies.

In spite of the above definition, there continues to be debate about what cloud-native truly means. Does moving a legacy application to the cloud make it a cloud-native application? Not in our opinion.

Often, many of the issues, deficiencies, and old business practices will become exponentially more difficult when applications are lifted-and-shifted to the cloud.

In order to achieve cloud-native status with applications, enterprises should first embrace microservices. Until this is achieved, a lift-and-shift strategy will most often not improve an organization’s agility, competitiveness, or digital transformation.

Cloud-native applications require a transformation of the entire digital IT lifecycle, including:

  • Business events and requirements.
  • Microservices architecture style.
  • Development and DevOps processes.
  • Production processes.
  • Execution platforms.

API management is also critical in simplifying cloud-native applications. It secures endpoints and provides a layer of ecosystem management.

It’s not enough to adopt cloud-native applications. Your upstream and downstream processes (culture) need to evolve, too. That’s where a microservices architecture comes into play.

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Why Microservices Architecture Is Important to Cloud-Native Apps

Microservices architectures enable a rapid, reliable, and frequent delivery of complex cloud-native application functionality. Without a microservices approach, cloud-native applications are simply cloud applications. The cloud-native approach to development requires aligning DevOps and IT processes with the microservices model.

Enabling a microservices architecture allows the enterprise to compete at scale with cloud-native applications. It enables rapid deployments and functionality upgrades. Instead of pushing code every once in a while, you’re pushing updates and improvements daily — or hourly in the case of market leaders. This is essential to succeeding with cloud-native apps. Microservices is what allows enterprises to move away from a lift-and-shift cloud strategy.

But a microservices architecture is no silver bullet. When in place, organizations will need to manage a more complex development lifecycle. Technology endpoints will expand exponentially. And security procedures will need to be adjusted accordingly.

So how do you grapple with this complexity? Cloud-native APIs.

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What Are Cloud-Native APIs?

Cloud-native APIs are APIs designed to operate natively within cloud-native applications. Cloud-native APIs can be built, deployed, and managed in a cloud or multicloud environment. They work agnostically across private, public, or hybrid cloud providers.

Microservices and cloud-native applications can create complexity. But you can use cloud-native APIs to remediate and simplify the digital ecosystem.

There are many benefits that come with cloud APIs. For example, making public APIs available to third parties and consumers will help you open up new digital lines of business.

Consider the example of travel aggregators. If an airline company failed to build APIs on their booking systems, they would never appear on Google Flights, Kayak, or Travelocity. These sites are simply a collection of public APIs with enhanced usability features and slick interfaces. This is true in many industries, from travel and hospitality to insurance and banking – and beyond.

To manage cloud-native APIs, you need the right API management platform. Akana, for example, operates natively to manage your entire cloud-native digital ecosystem. And it offers a layer of mediation, abstraction, analytics, and systems simplification.

Managing cloud-native APIs with Akana helps you overcome a huge challenge. With Akana, you can handle the complexity and sheer scale of endpoints.

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How to Implement and Improve Cloud Native API Management

So, how do you implement and improve cloud-native API management?

Follow these key steps.

1. Embrace an API-First Design Methodology

Many organizations build applications by focusing first on core functionality. They then build an API on top of their application, or a component of that application. While this technically works, it can often result in a sub-par user experience. This approach is also challenging to scale as a digital business expands.

To succeed with cloud-native applications, you need an API-first design methodology. This prepares your organization for microservices architecture.


By making it possible to rapidly scale digital products, servers, lines-of-business, and partnerships. With APIs designed first, the complexity becomes manageable.

Granted, it’s not always possible to halt all application tasks in order to focus exclusively on APIs. Nonetheless, the sooner the better.

This is where API management platforms like Akana can be especially helpful. Our platform can be up and running to secure and manage API endpoints in hours.

2. Scale Federated API Architecture

Your next step to cloud-native success is to scale your architecture. With Akana, you can scale federated API architecture to manage your microservices.

The cloud-native approach breaks monolith applications into hundreds of smaller packaged business capabilities (PCBs).

How will these PCBs communicate with one another and be managed properly? For that, you’ll need to scale a federated API architecture.

What exactly does this mean? You’ll have the scaffolding in place before building the skyscraper.

When you undergo a digital transformation, the business shifts to a digital-first entity.

A modern global enterprise might have customers in Singapore and Salt Lake City. If these customers are using the same business application, does that mean they should access the same server? No. You’ll have a server presence in East Asia and the Western United States. How do you partition the traffic to the appropriate server? Federated API architecture.

Scaling your architecture prepares your business for cloud-native apps. You’ll be able to manage complexity at scale, using a single business gateway and interface.

Federated Architecture For Enterprise API Management

In this white paper, you’ll learn how federated architecture applies to API management.


3. Enable Ecosystem Management With an API Gateway

With federated API architecture in place, the next step is building your API gateway. Your API gateway will act as the central business repository for all of your API traffic. The API gateway is key in a cloud-native deployment.

An API gateway is like an air traffic controller for your APIs. This sits between backend microservices and your public digital entities, apps, and services. The gateway receives calls, gathers services to fulfill calls, and returns a result. It’s where you control user access, manage security measures, set rate limiting, add SLAs, and govern technical policies.

In a cloud-native application or infrastructure, the API gateway:

  • Deals with thousands of external requests.
  • Ensures the appropriate microservice is routed to the end user.
  • Keeps your applications secure.

4. Unlock API Analytics and Security Features

API analytics allow you to ensure both the health of APIs — and the performance of all cloud-native microservices. API data and analytics can be broken down into several categories.

These include:

Operational Analytics and Data

These are designed to help you track your API infrastructure and uptime. They show how your cloud-native apps and networks respond to various loads.

You can investigate how your infrastructure is responding to requests from various device types, locations, and request types. This gives your team the knowledge to gain IT efficiency through the entire development lifecycle.

Business Analytics and Data

These numbers will help you track your business metrics and digital strategy goals. Likewise, these metrics will offer insight into how your digital transformation impacts your bottom line. Business analytics include customer usage patterns, apps used, data requested, and purchase patterns.

API Analytics and Data

Use API analytics to monitor external public APIs and internal company-specific APIs. You’ll know how your APIs are being adopted, used, or neglected — both inside and outside of your organization.

It also enables you to enhance the developer experience. This is especially important for API monetization. You need to understand the developer audience and motivations to succeed.

The Security Layer

Security is essential in cloud-native applications. Akana offers a variety of security options, including compatibility with OAuth, OpenID Connect, OWASP vulnerabilities, and PingFederate. Unlike several other API management platforms, Akana comes out-of-the-box prepared to function with each of these security protocols.

Plus, with Akana, you can use analytics to track and respond to security threats.

You can set alerts and thresholds for a wide variety of metrics including rate limiting, networks, users, and servers. This makes it easier to make decisions — and avoid multicloud silos.

And your C-Suite team will gain a consolidated and simpler view of security across the enterprise. This streamlines executive decision-making and risk mitigation.

5. Grow Your Business With an API Developer Portal and Marketplace

Your applications and services need to be available wherever your consumers show up. That’s why cloud-native APIs are so important. Take an airline or bank for example. A customer starts a purchase on digital channels and completes their journey on your application. And APIs enable it.

So, how do you make the appropriate functionality available? You’ll need developers adopting your APIs and incorporating that functionality within their tools and services.

Your API portal and API marketplace work together to grant access to your APIs and applications.

API developer portals can be built with tiered user access rights, search functionality, and documentation to help with adoption.

On the other hand, the API marketplace will offer a sleek user interface and hub for developers. The marketplace is often treated like a product in its own right. It allows the enterprise to monetize their APIs through a modern user experience.

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Achieving Cloud-Native Innovation With Akana

Akana’s API management platform can support even the most complex cloud-native applications to unlock greater speed, digital transformation, and scalability. As your organization leverages more cloud-native applications, Akana can help you:

  • Simplify your entire API and application ecosystem within hours of implementation.
  • Access next-level security and analytics capabilities.
  • Unlock our ready-baked API developer portal and marketplace.
  • Achieve digital innovation and API monetization. 

You can start your free 6-month trial anytime or watch our on-demand demo to see Akana in action.

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