Feb 22, 2024api strategy

4 Essential Requirements of Next-Gen API Observability

Regardless of whether your organization is already monitoring an API ecosystem or just beginning, we have noticed that it’s usually not long after companies start to imagine new products; they also want better API observability and monitoring.

We always like to share key insights we glean from conversations with our clients. In particular, we have chatted recently with several organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of their existing infrastructure and API Observablity strategy.

Surely, your organization has an API observability strategy, right?

Regardless, these insights will help if your organization is already monitoring an API ecosystem or is just beginning to see a need for more information about what’s happening with your larger API landscape. We have consistently seen that when productizing APIs, it’s not long before companies want more holistic API observability and monitoring. Hence, there is a need to evaluate and create an API Observablity strategy.

Where to Start?

Logically, the first step is to assess your current API ecosystem to ensure you have basic information about the performance and availability of your mission-critical APIs. In most cases, API gateway solutions don’t provide enough analytics and insight for productization. If you’d like to know more about why analytics and observability are critical to developing and delivering API products, we broadly explored this topic in a recent blog post.

Beyond the Basics

Below, we have listed the most heard and emerging requirements for advanced API observability strategies and the functionality most needed to support these requirements.

Requirement #1: Customer Level Differentiation & Observability

Legacy monitoring platforms mostly view APIs as individual endpoints that should be monitored for performance and availability individually - while treating all users of an API the same. This approach does not allow API product owners to differentiate a particular customer’s experience from another customer’s, creating several issues.

  • API performance monitoring that only evaluates a single user/customer type means it’s easy to overlook something critical when a large pool of transactions hides a problem for a specific customer.
  • It's harder to troubleshoot a problem if you can't idenitfy that a large number of issues are being generated from a single customer, who may be doing something unique that is causing the problem.
  • Mapping an issue’s severity to a customer’s relative value can protect against significant business disruptions for your largest customers. For example, suppose your APIs are performing well for 99% of your customers but continually failing for the 1% of your customers, who make up 20% of your revenue. In this case, it is dangerous and potentially costly to lack understanding about the severity of a problem until a financially vital customer calls to complain - after their confidence in your product has eroded.

In short, API Observability needs to consider more than endpoints and explicitly support API products and multiple consumer types. In this scenario, customer-level anomalies are much easier to identify if you know from the outset which customer is having an issue.

However, the limitations of gateway native analytics are not isolated to just customers; what if your product involves a more complex infrastructure or multiple APIs? That leads to requirement #2.

Requirement #2: Cross-API Performance Insight

Traditional observability tools have no concept of API products and only report on the performance of individual APIs. Viewing each API in isolation makes it difficult for API owners to understand and diagnose the entire customer product experience the same way customers experience it.

Unfortunately for API product owners, this means that if 10 APIs make up a product and one continually has problems while the other nine work fine, with traditional tools, your dashboard may show 90%, but from the customer experience perspective, your success rate is likely 0%. Therefore, API Observability platforms must regard API performance the same way as your clients, helping align internal perceptions with external reality and avoiding negative surprises with your customers.

Requirement #3: Support for Service-Level Commitments

As API products become more mainstream, larger customers increasingly demand SLA commitments from the providers. Unfortunately, few APIM tools allow you to set and measure performance against a contractual SLA when a suite of APIs makes up a product ecosystem.

While most of our clients agree that they’d prefer never to commit to a performance SLA for their products, winning larger clients and more demanding customers often requires conceding this point. Therefore, an API Observablity platform will enable you to audit and document that you are meeting your obligations and operating effectively under any contracts that include SLAs and financial penalties.

Requirement 4: Centralized, Real-Time, Cross-Platform Observability

So, if the three challenges above weren’t daunting enough, when an offering spans multiple software technologies or API gateways, the complexity of monitoring app performance and the user experience grows exponentially.

In the past, companies used solutions such as Splunk to centralize logging, And while such tools are valuable for looking back at “what happened?” - dissecting logs from numerous services in tools like Splunk is rarely a quick solution to a pressing, real-time customer problem.

Instead, with API Observability, data regarding performance and experience should be central, accessible, and holistic - across all the platforms that make up your product “stack.” Diving into service logs to troubleshoot issues should be a last resort - not a starting point. This type of deeper visibility means faster troubleshooting and quick identification of issues across all product or service components.

Observability that goes beyond ordinary

At Revenium, we’ve heard what our customers have asked for loud and clear. And we’re leading the effort to deliver API observability that’s more than ordinary. We can help you understand what’s happening across your APIs and data ecosystem with new insights, rapid issue detection, data integrity, optimal performance, and user satisfaction.

If any of the areas above feel like blindspots for you, and you’d like to chat about a strategy to increase the visibility of your existing platform while leveraging your existing API investments, get in touch.

We also invite you to start a Free Trial of Revenium (see the form below - no credit card required!) Within minutes of connecting your APIs using our low-code agent, you can start to see new insights emerge, and you’ll be on your way to plotting your next-gen API Observability strategy.

Jason Cumberland, CPO


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