apis-devops-critical-together-akana-blog
July 1, 2021

DevOps APIs: Why APIs Are Critical in DevOps

Digital Transformation
API Lifecycle Management

DevOps and APIs go together. That’s because APIs are critical in DevOps. And DevOps processes can help to optimize API management.

DevOps is a set of agile technical processes. It shortens application development lifecycles through continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). 

API management involves designing, implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and publishing APIs. This speeds up digital transformation efforts.

When done right, both improve technical agility in the enterprise.

So, are both trying to achieve the same ends? And how can they work together?

When paired, API management and DevOps accelerate digital transformation and application development lifecycles.

To learn more, read along or jump to the section that interests you most:

What Is an API In DevOps?

In DevOps, APIs help teams gain greater oversight, management, integration, and exposure of application functionality. APIs help DevOps teams improve CI and CD tasks by making application consumption and reuse easier. In short, APIs help DevOps more easily integrate various applications across the lifecycle.

Why APIs Are Important In DevOps

APIs are especially important because they move application features from decentralized DevOps teams to a centralized management layer or control plane. This strengthens security, helps satisfy application compliance requirements, and streamlines application lifecycles.

With an API management platform, you can secure application endpoints in complex environments. This helps accelerate digital transformations and maintain security, even in microservices architectures.

Simplifying Microservices and Service Mesh Architectures for DevOps

Microservices and service mesh architectures are popular, especially in the enterprise. When these methodologies are adopted, DevOps teams must grapple with an explosion in data complexity.

Why?

Traditional monolithic applications operated in a siloed fashion. All systems, databases, and features function as a single entity. As cloud technologies, application lifecycles, and platform integrations expand, monolithic applications fail to accommodate the complexity.

Microservices and service mesh architectures provide the solution to this problem. They create agility, scale, and modernization for enterprise applications.

How?

They break monolithic applications into bite-sized chunks of functionality (microservices). These can be repurposed across a variety of apps and environments.

But this also creates headaches for the DevOps team. They now have dozens, or even hundreds, of new smaller applications to manage. This means endpoint security and release updates just got much more complicated.

APIs offer the solution. By building APIs upon microservices, the DevOps team can secure and monitor all microservices. And manage it all from a consolidated API management control plane at the top of the architecture.

How DevOps and API Management Make a Perfect Match

DevOps and API management make a perfect match. And when API creation is moved into the CI and CD pipeline, new layers of automation can be unleashed. In the webinar below, you can  learn how to achieve API automation at scale for DevOps.

DevOps and API management are both designed for reusing functionality, building apps quickly, and reducing time-to-market. In addition to overlapping goals, DevOps and API management can supplement each other’s digital tools and technical processes.

The API management mindset: Reusing and consuming functionality across and outside the enterprise. Making business functionality and tools available wherever you need them, even as needs change down the line.

The DevOps mindset: Build fast and reuse what works across physical or virtual machines, containers, and cloud. Use CI and CD to speed and automate application development pipelines.

As you can see, there’s a great deal of overlap. Most importantly, both require major enterprise culture shifts. When DevOps teams work with API management principles, this culture shift can be easier to tackle.

Making the Culture Shift to DevOps and API-First Development

Historically, enterprises have added APIs onto applications after the fact. This worked at the time because they only had one or two APIs in place. And DevOps matured as a methodology while this was still a common practice. Yet as the number of APIs exploded, leading enterprises began to realize they needed to rethink and integrate application processes. Especially to accommodate systems complexity and multicloud scenarios. For many enterprises, this has been a decades-long journey.

In order to achieve digital transformation, enterprises must shift their cultures. This involves adopting a DevOps and API-first approach to application development.

This often includes:

  • Moving from a waterfall to an agile approach where DevOps and API management are embedded at every level of the application lifecycle.
  • Investing time up front in API and DevOps automation to create long-term technical efficiency and agility.
  • Integrating DevOps and API security and governance processes to ensure both speed and oversight.

How to Build a DevOps Strategy With APIs

DevOps incorporates people, processes, and technology in order to:

  • Improve app deployment frequency.
  • Reduce time-to-market.
  • Ensure IT service delivery meets emerging technology requirements.

Creating a DevOps strategy includes adopting CI/CD platforms, training the right IT professionals, and incorporating new application testing and release cycles.

Here’s how to build on your DevOps strategy with APIs.

Step 1: Overcome Security and Compliance Challenges With APIs

DevOps sits at the crossroads of IT and digital innovation. It plays a key role in securing the entire API lifecycle. In the race to scale APIs, many enterprises overlook added security threats. A recent survey found that 45% of respondents weren’t confident their security professionals knew whether a malicious actor accessed APIs. In addition, 51% weren’t confident their security professionals were aware of all new APIs.

Obviously, DevOps is the team suited to resolving these challenges.

But how?

  • Don’t secure APIs, secure the API lifecycle: API security works best when embedded into every stage of the lifecycle. This includes development, QA, staging, user acceptance testing, production, versioning, and even the retiring of APIs.
  • Scale user access and identity features: A key to securing APIs for DevOps is scaling modern user authentication and access features. A few examples include OAuth, JWT tokens, and OIDC. This can mitigate risks associated with various API users at scale.

The second unavoidable challenge is compliance. Nearly all enterprises face regulations, compliance, and governance oversight challenges. And it can be quite expensive to run afoul.

So how do you streamline DevOps compliance with APIs?

  • Use an API management platformfor automation: This can simplify managing policies, authentication, authorization, redacting, logs, and other oversight tasks.
  • Lean on API analytics to go beyond basic metrics: Set thresholds based on your compliance requirements. This includes everything from restricting user API access based on geolocation to setting up custom alerts for threat detection.

Step 2: Reduce Microservices Endpoint Complexity With APIs

There are more services, teams, languages, platforms, and moving parts than ever before.

So how does the DevOps team keep up with all these moving pieces? By creating a mediation layer at the highest level through which to manage microservices access.

APIs-and-devops-akana-blog-image

When you scale APIs on microservices, business intelligence platforms, backend services, and databases, you create a single mediation layer for DevOps to manage.

This decouples DevOps teams from the complexity of managing microservices. It also adds more granular access to services in a centrally-managed way. This enables consistency across security, quality measurement, and other organization-specific metrics.

Overall, centralizing key technology and applications in this fashion can strengthen the agility of CI and CD pipelines. This simplifies endpoint complexity and microservices management.

Step 3: Improve Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery Pipelines With APIs

With the DevOps ecosystem secured and managed from a single interface, you can turn your energy to improving CI and CD outcomes using API functionality.

Using your APIs at scale, you can now manage application functionality based on real-time delivery needs, such as:

  • Dynamic scaling.
  • Load balancing.
  • On-the-fly networking changes.
  • Partitioning services to different clouds or databases.
  • Exposing internal services and apps for third-party consumption.
  • Consuming third-party apps for CI/CD improvements.
  • Tracking internal and external application usage trends and speeds.
  • Adjusting rate limiting or access based on usage patterns.

In short, API management allows DevOps teams to make technical, security, and environment adjustments faster. Likewise, APIs make monitoring and managing all systems easier.

This results in less DevOps work across compliance, governance, and security tasks. You can also simplify and consolidate the analytics view. So, your compliance and governance professionals no longer need to wait for data to be manually collected.

Easy DevOps API Management With Akana

Akana enables DevOps teams to easily manage, secure, and scale APIs in a rapid fashion. This accelerates digital transformation. And it improves DevOps processes in the enterprise.

As you tackle APIs in your DevOps pipeline, Akana can help you:

  • Reduce time-to-market with rapid API deployment.
  • Automate security to lighten the load with DevOps oversight tasks.
  • Increase DevOps innovation through easy consumption of external APIs.

See for yourself what sets Akana’s API platform apart by watching our on-demand demo.

 ▶️Watch the Demo