What an API Gateway Does for a Business

Written by: James Ponds

An API gateway is a critical tool that sits between your customers and your digital services, products, and information. Because of this, an API gateway needs to function correctly and efficiently for an optimum customer experience. When the gateway functions correctly, both customers and businesses can see measurable results that benefit them.

Some of the Things an API Gateway Does

If you have an enterprise API, chances are it gets deployed via an API gateway such as an envoy API gateway. These gateways generally handle pretty routine tasks such as user authentication, statistics, and limiting rates.

At the heart of an API service is the action of a remote request and then the return of a response. The challenge of using an API gateway is that the interaction is never quite that simple. Businesses often need the flexibility to utilize an API gateway in several different ways all at once.

As an API gateway user, you may have several things you need to consider. You want it to be flexible enough that you can add and delete services while still letting your customers find all of the services they have come to expect in the same place. You may want one request to call on dozens of different operations or applications. 

You may want the gateway to connect to a billing system if you have a monetized API. Since you want to understand how your customers use your API gateway, you most likely want to add monitoring tools and analytics to the back end of your API architecture. 

Because an API gateway is often an integral part of a business operation, owners do not want it abused or overused. That is why the owners of these gateways often employ some type of rate-limiting or authentication service.

The Practical Uses of an API Gateway

Quite often, business owners that employ an API gateway don't fully understand all the technical aspects of the gateway. What they want is a piece of technology that works when both they and their customers need it to work. 

An API gateway is usually part of a more extensive API architecture. The architecture is often custom-suited to a specific business's needs. It can incorporate items such as registration of customers and documentation available to these customers. It can also be part of a larger community marrying customers with a business and its employees, products, and services.

Behind the scenes, some of the functions of this API architecture can include security features and being able to orchestrate the interaction between customers and your business. Another critical factor for any business is to be able to track the behavior of your customers and streamline your business efforts accordingly.

Why an API Gateway Can Be So Vital to the Operation of a Business

When your customers are in need of something from your business, they are not concerned with the technology that gets them what they want. They want to ask, and they want to receive an immediate answer. Telling them that they could not get the answer quickly because your API gateway was not working correctly is most likely not a satisfactory answer.

In an effort to provide as streamlined and efficient an experience as you can for a customer, API gateways can go a long way towards achieving that goal. They serve many key roles in providing the best customer experience.

They can simplify the delivery of services and information to customers. Because of their virtually unlimited flexibility, businesses can continually update and adapt the gateway to suit their current business model and the customer's needs. For companies with older or legacy applications, an API gateway can often also utilize those applications. 

In today's marketplace, customers expect quick and reliable performance and results. Businesses want to provide a wealth of services and products to their customers. It is a properly configured and well-functioning API gateway that can deliver excellent results to customers on a regular basis.

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