Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, William Schmarzo, Todd Matters, Yeshim Deniz, Amitabh Sinha

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Five Ways to Safeguard Your Application from Third-Party API Outages By @webcodepro | @CloudExpo #Cloud

There have been a number of high-profile API outages in recently that caused some well-known websites & applications to go down

Five Ways to Safeguard Your Application from Third-Party API Outages
By Janet Wagner

The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing at a rapid pace with millions of new devices getting connected every day.

Gartner forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use in 2016 and by 2020, the number will reach 20.8 billion. Billions of devices including smartphones, laptops, cars, watches, refrigerators, and even thermostats are all getting connected thanks to APIs. Many of these devices are part of a larger application ecosystem, connected to the cloud and each other using the same APIs.

There have been a number of high-profile API outages in recent months that caused some well-known websites and applications to go down. With so many devices and applications using many of the same cloud services and APIs, one outage can potentially take down entire application ecosystems. While it may not be possible to completely prevent an API outage from taking down your website, web or mobile application, it is possible to take steps to reduce the impact of a third-party API outage.

Web Service Outages
Twitter experienced a major outage for about an hour on January 19, 2016 which caused the Twitter website and applications to malfunction for users worldwide.

Twitter Outage

Application ecosystems are getting larger and more complex with each passing day. While API providers do their best to ensure API availability, outages do still occur from time to time.

Consider the following examples:

  • On January 26, 2015, both the Facebook and Instagram API servers went down for about an hour taking down Facebook and Instagram. The outage also impacted a number of well-known websites including Tinder and HipChat.
  • On September 20, 2015, Amazon Web Services (AWS) experienced a brief disruption that caused an increase in faults for the EC2 Auto Scaling APIs. Within the same month, the Facebook Graph API went down briefly on three separate occasions. Facebook is considered a very reliable service so the fact that Facebook suffered from three outages in the same month was widely reported.
  • On January 19, 2016, Twitter experienced a major outage that impacted many of the websites and applications using Twitter APIs. The API outages caused the Twitter website and applications to malfunction for users worldwide for about an hour.

API outages aren't limited to the large scale APIs like those experienced by giants like Facebook and Amazon. And if you have an application that is dependent on external APIs to perform a critical function, you need to have a plan for dealing with disruptions.

There are a number of solutions that developers can use to prevent API outages from negatively impacting a website or application.

1. API Virtualization
API virtualization
is a process that makes it possible to create a virtual copy of an API capable of emulating the same functionality and performance of a production API. API virtualization can be used to create a virtual sandbox for integration, scenario, load, and performance testing of internal and third-party APIs. Unlike service virtualization, a process that mimics an entire system, API virtualization only emulates the API which is considerably less expensive, easier to implement, and less time consuming.

"It's all about time and cost. API virtualization, beyond simple service mocking, provides technical teams a frictionless way to reduce delays in development and testing. Lightweight, virtual APIs empower teams to simulate errors, network latency and congestion, and even stand up API sandboxes," said Paul Bruce, API team product manager at SmartBear. "These ‘virts' (as the folks at SmartBear call them), allow you overcome third-party downtime, safeguard you from running over subscription limits, and even help to simplify versioning and release logistics."

Using API virtualization tools like ServiceV Pro, developers can test third-party API integrations by mimicking errors, server, and network behavior.

Matti Hjelm, product owner at SmartBear, said that "ServiceV works from two angles: both from the dev perspective to quickly create APIs for own use or for others to use; and for testers to have something to test against. This will truly speed up the build and deploy workflows dramatically."

API virtualization can help developers anticipate how specific third-party API outages will impact their application allowing them to plan for outages before moving the application to general availability.

2. Synthetic and Real User Monitoring
Synthetic Monitoring

Synthetic monitoring
is a script or tool that is capable of monitoring various aspects of APIs, web and mobile applications. Synthetic monitoring effectively "simulates users" monitoring the paths that users may take while using an application. Synthetic monitoring can help developers discover problems with an application before users do. Using synthetic monitoring, developers can find out:

  • How well the website/application performs from specific geographic locations.
  • How long it takes web pages to load.
  • How an outage or slowdown will impact users.
  • How well third-party scripts and APIs are operating.
  • How well transactions are performing.
  • How new features will impact performance and speed.

These are just a few of the things that developers can learn about an application by using synthetic monitoring.

"On the production side, synthetic API monitoring provides critical visibility into how your APIs perform under real conditions, prove uptime and availability, and split out important layers of your user experience so you can involve the right people to quickly resolve problems when they arise," said Bruce.

Real User Monitoring
Real user monitoring (RUM
) is a script or tool designed to monitor and analyze all user transactions of a website or application. RUM is based on the traffic of actual application users, not virtual or simulated users like synthetic monitoring. RUM shows how users are interacting with an application, providing metrics that reflect the user experience (UX).

RUM can be used to monitor and capture a wide variety of web and mobile application metrics including load time, speed, errors, transaction performance, availability, and more. Problems with third-party APIs can impact the speed and performance of a website or application. There are RUM tools that can send automatic alerts in the event of a problem such as an API outage or application slowdown.

Products like AlertSite can be used for RUM monitoring as well as for synthetic monitoring of APIs, web and mobile applications.

3. A/B Testing
A/B testing is a method of testing in which two variants of a web page or application are compared to each other. For example, two versions of an application; one that includes a third-party API and one that does not, would be compared to see how that API will impact application speed and performance. A/B testing tools use data and metrics to determine the positive or negative impact of specific changes made to web pages or applications.

4. Asynchronous Scripting
Asynchronous scripting helps web pages render faster by allowing the main body of content to be loaded without having to wait for all of the external scripts to load. Without asynchronous scripting, users must wait for all of the external scripts to load first before they can view the main content of the web page. If a problem with a third-party script or API occurs, asynchronous scripting allows the body of content to be loaded despite the problem.

Many API providers offer APIs via JavaScript SDKs with code that is asynchronous by default. Third-party JavaScript APIs and code snippets that are not already asynchronous can be loaded asynchronously. In HTML5 for example, external JavaScript files can be loaded asynchronously using the async tag:

<script async src="script.js"></script>

5. Caching
Caching API responses allows API data to be stored on your website server instead of relying on the third-party server for every API call. Caching helps prevent an application from being impacted by third-party API outages because data is pulled from a local cache file instead of directly from the API server. Caching scripts are available in PHP, Python, and many other languages.

Conclusion
This article covers only a few of the steps that can be taken to safeguard your application from third-party API outages and errors.

Limiting the number of APIs your application uses, using well-designed APIs from reputable API providers, and using a full-featured APM tool can also help safeguard your application from API outages.

With the number of connected devices and application ecosystems growing at such as rapid pace, it is more important than ever for applications to be safeguarded from third-party API outages and errors.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By SmartBear Blog

As the leader in software quality tools for the connected world, SmartBear supports more than two million software professionals and over 25,000 organizations in 90 countries that use its products to build and deliver the world’s greatest applications. With today’s applications deploying on mobile, Web, desktop, Internet of Things (IoT) or even embedded computing platforms, the connected nature of these applications through public and private APIs presents a unique set of challenges for developers, testers and operations teams. SmartBear's software quality tools assist with code review, functional and load testing, API readiness as well as performance monitoring of these modern applications.

@CloudExpo Stories
It is ironic, but perhaps not unexpected, that many organizations who want the benefits of using an Agile approach to deliver software use a waterfall approach to adopting Agile practices: they form plans, they set milestones, and they measure progress by how many teams they have engaged. Old habits die hard, but like most waterfall software projects, most waterfall-style Agile adoption efforts fail to produce the results desired. The problem is that to get the results they want, they have to ch...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann and Aruna Ravichandran have been named Co-Chairs of @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley which will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is at the intersection of technology and business-optimizing tools, organizations and processes to bring measurable improvements in productivity and profitability," said Aruna Ravichandran, vice president, DevOps product and solutions marketing...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
Wooed by the promise of faster innovation, lower TCO, and greater agility, businesses of every shape and size have embraced the cloud at every layer of the IT stack – from apps to file sharing to infrastructure. The typical organization currently uses more than a dozen sanctioned cloud apps and will shift more than half of all workloads to the cloud by 2018. Such cloud investments have delivered measurable benefits. But they’ve also resulted in some unintended side-effects: complexity and risk. ...
"Loom is applying artificial intelligence and machine learning into the entire log analysis process, from start to finish and at the end you will get a human touch,” explained Sabo Taylor Diab, Vice President, Marketing at Loom Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are a monitoring company. We work with Salesforce, BBC, and quite a few other big logos. We basically provide monitoring for them, structure for their cloud services and we fit into the DevOps world" explained David Gildeh, Co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Doug Vanderweide, an instructor at Linux Academy, discussed why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers wit...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...