Gateways that facilitate integration across application programming interfaces (APIs) are the engines that have driven the API economy for much of the past decade. But as IT organizations increasingly embrace microservices, some suggest that many of the first-generation API gateways are becoming obsolete.
Fresh off picking up another $18 million in funding, Mashape has been the primary force behind an open-source API gateway known as Kong. Mashape CEO Augusto Marietti contends that legacy API gateways are not able to keep up with the latency requirements of microservices. In effect, each microservice is now spawning a “micro API” that needs to be managed, orchestrated and secured, he says.
Marietti notes Kong has been downloaded more than 2 million times and is being used to manage thousands of APIs and billions of requests. Mashape also has an enterprise-class edition of Kong that includes tools for monitoring, onboarding, security, machine learning, high availability and multi-region scaling. That instance of Kong, available in a preview mode, can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.
Mashape recently made available an update to the core Kong API gateway that adds support for load balancing, service discovery, WebSockets and AWS Lambda serverless computing support. In fact, Marietti says Kong will be the only API gateway capable of matching the low-latency requirements of both serverless computing frameworks and containerized applications.
In general, Marietti says, microservices are the fulfillment of an IT dream that started with the service-oriented architectures (SOA) manifesto published last decade. The problem was that in practice, SOA frameworks turned out to be too large and complicated to maintain. Microservices architecture provides a much lighter-weight means of isolating code that is more agile and easier to maintain, he says. It’s unclear how monolithic legacy applications will be decomposed into a modular set of microservices; many organizations simply drop entire enterprise applications into Docker containers before eventually carving them up into more discrete sets of microservices.
Mashape’s push for a new way to address API management comes on the heels of a wave of consolidation, under which almost every provider of API management platforms is being acquired by a larger vendor. Each of those larger vendors, as it turns out, is also making significant investments in containers and microservices. It’s safe to assume many of those companies are pouring engineering resources into optimizing those API gateways for containers and microservices.
But Marietti notes that none of those efforts may matter when the core Kong platform is available as an open-source project. Many IT organizations will want to pay for the additional management layers they uniquely require above and beyond what’s provided in the core API gateway, he says.
However the battle plays out, it’s a sure thing the next wave of API management will occur at levels of unprecedented scale.