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When we hear the term API testing, a variety of associated technical approaches often come to mind. These may include functional API testing, security, endpoint, load, penetration, or even API integration testing. But is API testing merely a technical domain? Or is there opportunity to approach API testing as a business function designed to accelerate time-to-market, improve API reliability, and ultimately improve operational DevOps efficiency and business outcomes through cost savings?
At Akana, we believe the latter; that API testing is ultimately a function of API quality assurance. In the following paragraphs we will explore the benefits of full lifecycle API testing, and its importance in improving strategic business outcomes.
Full lifecycle API testing is the process of verifying that an API ecosystem is performing its intended function and design, while meeting the expectations of all stakeholders. It covers testing API products including their endpoints, applicable security policies, documentation, authorization model and dependencies to ensure optimal API ecosystem efficiency across the entire lifecycle.As we will see, this implies adopting a product mindset with APIs, instead of viewing them merely as technical artifacts. Furthermore, full lifecycle API testing presumes adoption of full lifecycle API management principles.
Full lifecycle API testing is the process of verifying that an API ecosystem is performing its intended function and design, while meeting the expectations of all stakeholders. It covers testing API products including their endpoints, applicable security policies, documentation, authorization model and dependencies to ensure optimal API ecosystem efficiency across the entire lifecycle.
As we will see, this implies adopting a product mindset with APIs, instead of viewing them merely as technical artifacts. Furthermore, full lifecycle API testing presumes adoption of full lifecycle API management principles.
Full lifecycle API management involves managing the entire lifespan of an API from creation to retirement. Moreover, it regards the full lifespan of APIs in context of digital transformation. Full lifecycle API management effectively underpins an API strategy that addresses both technical and business requirements.
API management has changed drastically in the past decade. While APIs were once considered the forefront of innovation, they are now critical elements of a successful digital transformation strategy. As a result, APIs are increasingly regarded from a business value perspective, rather than from a mere technical integration one. Modern API strategies often take APIs as products in their own right, with a distinct value associated with them.
For APIs to be effective from a business perspective, the value of APIs must be validated and demonstrated. In other words, you should be able to demonstrate to what extent an API satisfies stakeholder expectations.
Full lifecycle API testing creates a strong foundation for full lifecycle API management. It enables a birds-eye view of the entire API ecosystem, as well as granular snapshots of API conformance. Full lifecycle API testing allows DevOps and API product teams to more efficiently validate:
All API testing activities contribute to the objective of having a reliable API ecosystem. This includes testing the API product in its initial stage in the same fashion as “unit testing” of recently-developed code. And continues through more explicit test cases in more formalised test environments. Finally, this includes continuous monitoring in the production environment.
Perforce purchased BlazeMeter last year to provide customers with the most comprehensive API management suite possible. Along with advanced full lifecycle API management features, customers now have access to a comprehensive API testing and monitoring solution which can rapidly be scaled up alongside DevOps operations.
This allows organizations to unlock API integration testing and full lifecycle API testing from within the Akana platform. So, what does this entail? This means accounting for API testing at the development, test, quality assurance, and production phases of the API product lifecycle (see graphic below).
In short, full lifecycle API testing emphasizes testing API products, or implementing the fundamentals of API productization. Instead of thinking about APIs as just technical integration artifacts or mere endpoints that require testing, we treat APIs as products in their own right. These products target distinct consumer categories, constituting a well-defined mediation layer that specific API features can be conveniently delegated to – on which testing efforts can then be focused.
This way, we can validate whether the APIs are meeting specific objectives in context of their environments and business (or customer) stakeholder requirements.
Let’s break this down further by using some examples.
During initial API product development, the API interface may be agreed upon without the corresponding code implementation being available yet. Mock services are a handy means to start testing the interface before the target endpoint(s) are available. Ideally, they return a dynamic mock response that reflects essential elements of the accompanying request and critical elements of the real response as ultimately expected. Mock services should support both expected ‘success’ responses as well as ‘failure’ responses, allowing for fairly comprehensive functional API testing in an early stage.
In the Test Phase, a more formalized test environment is set up. The temporary ownership of the API product is now handed over to a test team, which applies rigorous testing based on well-defined test cases, both from a functional and security perspective. To allow for scale and continuity, applying automation to testing is indispensable. Furthermore, these test cases are repeatable and reusable, and can be applied at lower or higher volumes in future test scenarios. This represents a significant time and cost savings in the overall API testing regimen.
Once correct API behaviour as been ascertained from a functional and security perspective, additional quality aspects, like performance and availability, can be validated in a QA or Staging environment. Typically, this is an environment that mirrors the production environment to a large extent, but it may even go beyond that, for example to test for uncommon traffic spikes.
APIs are in an increasingly critical position within the overall integration architecture. Therefore, it is highly recommended to continuously monitor their ‘health’ in order to discover potential issues before your clients or customers do. Modern API testing tools like Blazemeter provide synthetic monitoring capabilities, which allow you to continuously verify your API’s performance. This ensures you find vulnerabilities before your clients or customers do.
Working with Akana means you have access to a full lifecycle API management platform and an API testing suite prepared to help improve digital transformation outcomes. How? It accelerates API time-to-market, improves governance and oversight practices through API testing best practices, and breaks down DevOps and API-oriented silos through a unified API management and testing platform.
With the Akana API management suite with BlazeMeter, clients can: