The Web has become a much interconnected place, with so many sites and services connecting and sharing data through APIs (application programming interfaces). But with more moving pieces, developers face the growing challenge of monitoring how their APIs are functioning. This week, Sonoa Systems of Santa Clara, Calif. released Apigee, a Web-based service it has dubbed the "Google Analytics for APIs."
Developers and API providers can use Apigee to spin up a proxy through which all API traffic is routed and analyzed. Through an online dashboard, users can monitor request rates, response time, and error rates. Developers whose Web services rely on several APIs can receive notification the very minute one experiences downtime.
The appearance of on demand monitoring services like Apigee only heightens how important APIs will be as the Web evolves. In a social media Web sites, you might see APIs granting users access to Twitter, Facebook and Flickr through a common interface. If one of those APIs fails, a company wants to know about it before users suddenly cant push media to their favorite sites.
"Companies use APIs to power their Web sites so they can add new features quickly," said Brian Mulloy, general manager for Apigee. "They don't want an API outage to cause huge holes in their app. But APIs are 10 years behind where the Web is."
While there are all sorts of monitoring and analytics products for Web sites, fewer offerings exist specifically for APIs. Apigee will compete with API analytics providers like Mashery and 3Scale and others.
Apigee is free to sign up for if you can keep the traffic under 10,000 requests per hour. Surpassing that level will cost a $100 per month subscription. The proxy Apigee sets up is managed through a completely online interface and acts as a circuit breaker for APIs. With the API traffic redirected, the risk of a site outage due to a spike in API requests is eliminated. Of course, the convenience comes at the cost of latency. In a live demonstration, Apigee showed a latency measurement of between 200 and 300 milliseconds.
This will be particularly useful for two types of users: companies offering an API for one or more of its services and developers working on a Web site that relies on several APIs. A product manager can use it to set particular traffic limits, configure error handling and monitor an API's overall popularity. Developers can set Apigee to ping the APIs they consume every minute and use the metrics to frame how their efforts rely on said APIs.
Mulloy said Apigee can also be made to work with Web services endpoints, the equivalent of APIs in the SOA (service oriented architecture) realm. Drawing on Sonoa's platform, Apigee offers full support for SOAP. As companies open more of their Web applications to cloud computing environments especially, Mulloy said APIs will be the glue that binds partnering services together.
"If you are running a data center today and you don't have an API, you're going to be extinct in six months," said Mulloy. "Everything that's going to be deployed in the cloud is going to need an API. The biggest thing for cloud is just the focus on elasticity. The elasticity needs to be programmatic."
In the future, Mulloy said Apigee plans to follow the lead of Google Analytics and allow companies to publicly display the performance metrics of their APIs.