API Gateway on Alibaba Cloud — An Introduction
By Shantanu Kaushik
APIs are considered the driving force behind cloud architecture. Any cloud practice today implements various APIs that have specific design purposes. These small programs or microservices are written to achieve a particular end result. It can be anything from data sourcing, sorting, hardware, or software calling. An API can be used multiple times without having to write complex code every time a developer wishes to include new functionality to get something done.
To have stable, regulated, and standardized API hosting, Alibaba Cloud introduced its own API Gateway. In this article, we are going to give an overview of how the API gateway works.
In the final article of this series, we will discuss some use case scenarios and practices associated with API hosting over API Gateway on Alibaba Cloud. Stay tuned!
Introduction | API Gateway
An API Gateway service is a hosting service for APIs. Alibaba Cloud has developed this service to enable developers to easily and efficiently develop and maintain API architecture for the cloud. API Gateway is a complete solution that caters to API development, testing, hosting, and sales. It is a secure solution for building an API centric cloud architecture that supports interoperability and presents itself as a scalable solution.
API Gateway is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) product that uses distributed deployment tools to provide and maintain high performance API functionality for its users. It offers multiple tools throughout the API lifecycle that reduce the total cost for the business or organization. On top of that, Alibaba Cloud has linked this product with best-in-class security mechanisms. API Gateway can work with the Web Application Firewall (WAF), Identity as a Service (IDaaS), and Anti-DDoS Pro. This enables users to leverage full-link API protection for their services.
Let’s take a look at the technological profile of the API Gateway:
Supports HTTP and HTTPs
Centralized Management of APIs
Full-Link Security System with State-of-the-Art Authentication, including HMAC (SHA-1 and SHA-256) Algorithms
- TLS Authentication
- Full-Link Signature Verification
- IP Address-Based Access Control
- WAF and Anti-DDOS Pro
Features | API Gateway
Bridging the Gaps
API Gateway features strong integration and adaptation capabilities. It is designed to incorporate the best practices of the cloud industry. It leverages a centralized approach to API integration and implementation. The API Gateway can host your API regardless of where your cloud system is deployed. If you have another cloud service provider or you are using a local data center, the API gateway can still host your APIs and provide you with the same set of features that it does within the Alibaba Cloud network.
Backend Connection to Services
Alibaba Cloud API Gateway lets users leverage some of the best industry tools for the cloud. The API Gateway is interconnected with cloud services and products like the Elastic Compute Service (ECS), microservices, and Function Compute. Due to this connection, the API Gateway can quickly publish APIs. The API Gateway supports HTTP and HTTPs services as backend. It also supports resources in VPCs and over VPCs.
Continuous Integration practices with the API Gateway work with Infrastructure as Code (IAC). It supports Terraform orchestration for the most resourceful developer centric environment. It can also connect with any CI/CD or O&M for management.
Data and Advanced Practices
The API Gateway has the capability of data visualization. With DataV, APIs can be called to visualize data. Similarly, it can publish data APIs that can provision the required data services, such as Alibaba Cloud Big Data and database services, whenever required, without delay. DataWorks, the end-to-end big data intelligent cloud research and development system works like this.
The API Gateway also supports APIs developed for machine learning platforms for AI and can publish models and algorithms.
API Gateway | DevOps | Serverless
When it comes to cloud services, API Gateway is a seasoned service and maintains a strong connection to the DevOps practices. It allows seamless access to Kubernetes clusters and helps increase the overall capability of the DevOps practice. This integration with microservices architecture provides a unique capability for developers that wish to cater to both small and large enterprises.
Talking about the serverless architecture, the API Gateway caters to a broad market that includes possibilities for IoT (Internet of Things), mobile, and web applications. The combination of Function Compute and API Gateway presents a robust architecture for developers. If leveraged properly, it can provide a low-cost, high-scalable service that provides high-availability for APIs.
Publishing | Availability | Monitoring
The API Gateway provides support from the grass-root level and helps you manage the complete lifecycle with management tools for every stage of the lifecycle. You can easily manage your APIs from the development phase to the publishing phase. “One-click version switching” enables you to go back to any phase or build in case of errors or issues.
Your APIs will always be available and controllable from the API Gateway. To maintain smooth functionality, API caching is used. This reduces the server load and presents a smoother real-world experience for the user. In the case of traffic fluctuation or multi-access issues through a web or a mobile app, you can pre-set an access frequency for your APIs for both of these settings. In the case of an exception, the administrator is alerted using the available channels. This setting can be configured based on the requirements.
The API Gateway tracks all of the calls and monitors them to understand the response time and error rates. If debugging is required, the API Gateway offers a full-fledged GUI based debugging tool.
Alibaba Cloud API Gateway supports alog service that records and maintains every call to your API. A dashboard helps administrators understand all of the metrics associated with the APIs to further upgrade your system.
Let’s look at a visualization to better understand how the log system works:
API Gateway uses the Alibaba Cloud Marketplace to publish algorithms, capabilities, and data as APIs. You can easily publish or unpublish your APIs on the marketplace. It also integrates the API services of other providers. This enables a wide variety of APIs for new projects and businesses to explore. A collaborative model leads to a more beneficial practice for users worldwide.
The entire system works to build an ecosystem around the multitude of resources for users at any given stage of operations. API Gateways make use of open APIs that lead to greater collaboration and coordination with the open source community. This counts for a healthier ecosystem that promotes further innovation.
APIs are the backbone of today’s Cloud-Verse. With DevOps and Agile practices in play, it is an amalgamation of resources that counts for a standardized system that hails inoperability. API Gateway is one of the fundamental products that procure and present a one-stop solution for any developer.
NEXT in Line
1. API Gateway: Use Case Scenarios | Industry Specific Modelling
We will discuss different use case scenarios and industry specific API approaches.
2. Hybrid Cloud — Integration and Practices, Part 1
We will discuss multiple aspects of Hybrid Cloud, its integration, and practices.
The views expressed herein are for reference only and don’t necessarily represent the official views of Alibaba Cloud.