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What is API Monitoring? Best Practices to Track API Performance and Metrics

Abeeha Jaffery

Lead - Campaign Marketing

June 14th, 2024

API downtime can cost businesses an average of $140,000 to $540,000 per hour. Maintaining reliable and high-performing APIs has become critical for any digital business’s success, with much at stake. This scenario is where API monitoring steps in. An important part of API management, monitoring API metrics allows organizations to detect issues rapidly and optimize their API performance. 

What is API Monitoring?

API monitoring is the continuous process of observing, testing, and analyzing APIs to ensure they are available, performing optimally, and functioning as intended. This process includes tracking various API performance metrics such as uptime, response times, error rates, and throughput and validating that the API endpoints are returning the correct data.

API monitoring allows to:

  • Detect performance issues before they impact users.
  • Identify and fix errors promptly.
  • Ensure SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are met.
  • Provide insights into usage patterns and potential areas for improvement.

Why is Monitoring API Performance Important for Businesses?

Not focusing on API monitoring risks failure, as APIs are foundational to modern applications. Monitoring ensures uninterrupted availability and aligns with user experience goals, preventing performance issues directly impacting user satisfaction. APIs enable the delivery of essential services without overhauling core applications. They drive e-commerce growth and facilitate seamless integration of new functionalities.

Some of the benefits of API Monitoring include:

  • Enhanced User Experience: Users expect an immediate response when interacting with digital applications. Even a few seconds of delay can lead to frustration and negative feedback. API monitoring helps ensure that APIs respond to requests within the expected timeframe, leading to a positive user experience and higher customer satisfaction.
  • Brand Reputation: Consistently functional APIs contribute to a company’s reputation for reliability and efficiency. Frequent issues can tarnish a brand’s image and lead to a loss of trust among customers and partners.
  • Ensure Regulatory Compliance: Certain industries, such as healthcare and finance, have strict regulations regarding the use of APIs. API monitoring helps businesses ensure that they are complying with these regulations and avoiding any potential legal consequences.
  • Revenue Protection: Many businesses rely on APIs for transactions and services. Downtime can lead to revenue loss. For example, an e-commerce site experiencing API failures during a sale can suffer significant financial losses.

How Do API Testing and API Monitoring Work Together?

API testing and monitoring function together to ensure API reliability. API testing mainly involves pre-deployment validation of API functionality, performance, and security. It covers the functional and security testing of the API, validating whether the API request triggers expected results and whether the authentications are functioning as expected.

API monitoring focuses on real-time, post-deployment performance tracking. Together, they ensure that APIs are robust before release and continue to perform well in a live environment.

How Does API Monitoring Work?

API monitoring involves several key components and steps to ensure APIs’ performance, availability, and correct functioning. Here is a breakdown of how API monitoring works:

  • Endpoint Monitoring: Regularly checks if API endpoints are reachable and responsive.
  • Performance Monitoring: Measures speed and efficiency of API responses by tracking metrics like latency, throughput, and error rates. It also simulates different loads to test API performance under stress.
  • Functional Testing: Ensures that API performs expected actions and returns correct data by running automated tests mimicking various scenarios to verify behavior.
  • Uptime Monitoring: Tracks API availability over time by continuously pinging or sending requests to check if the API is up, with alerts for downtime.
  • Error Rate Monitoring: Detects frequency and types of  API errors (e.g., 4xx, 5xx status codes). Logs and categorizes errors to pinpoint client or server issues.

Key API Performance Metrics to Track

Availability

Availability is a critical metric to monitor for any API. This metric measures the uptime of an API, which is the amount of time that the API is available and functioning correctly. Downtime can occur for various reasons, such as server outages, network connectivity issues, or maintenance updates.

However, extended downtime can adversely impact user experience and lead to lost revenue. Therefore, it’s vital to monitor the availability and ensure it meets business needs. Tracking availability allows businesses to proactively identify issues and take necessary steps to maintain high uptime.

Response Time

Response time is another crucial API metric that measures the time an API takes to respond to a client’s request. This metric directly impacts the user experience and can influence their satisfaction and perception of the service. A slow response time can frustrate users and lead to their abandonment of the service, whereas a fast response time can increase user engagement and loyalty.

To calculate response time, users can measure the duration between a request being made and the response being received. This can be further broken down into different stages, such as the time taken to establish a connection, process the request, and generate the response.

Monitoring response time enables API providers to identify any bottlenecks or issues that might slow down the service and take steps to improve performance.

Error Rates

Errors Rates, including errors per minute and error codes, are the number of errors that occur when using an API.

To calculate the error rate, users can divide the total number of requests made to an API by the number of requests that resulted in errors (non-200 family status codes). This metric can be further categorized into different types of unsuccessful responses, for example, redirections, client errors, and server errors.

Keeping track of error rates is vital for identifying issues within individual APIs. For instance, error codes ranging from 400 to 499 could indicate problematic APIs. Multiple 4XX errors indicate a client error. This error means the client has made a bad request, did not provide authorization correctly, or the resource does not exist. If an organization gets many 4XX errors on its APIs, it should revisit its API documentation and see if it clearly defines the API requests. The organization can also check the API design and simplify it if needed.

Monitoring error rates allows API providers to identify issues or trends contributing to high errors and take corrective action to improve performance.

Usage Statistics

Usage statistics provide insights into API usage patterns, such as which endpoints are most popular and which users are accessing those endpoints. By analyzing usage statistics and identifying popular endpoints, businesses can optimize their API performance.

Additionally, usage statistics can help businesses understand their user base and needs, enabling them to make informed decisions about their API’s features and functionalities. Analyzing usage statistics helps companies enhance user experience and increase engagement with their API.

Latency

Latency is the time it takes for an API to respond to a request. It is measured in milliseconds and is a critical metric to evaluate the overall user experience.

High latency can delay information delivery, resulting in a poor user experience. Several factors, including slow network connections, inefficient code, or server overload, can cause it. API providers can optimize latency by optimizing code, using caching techniques, and ensuring the API infrastructure can handle the volume of requests.

API monitoring metrics to track

API Monitoring Use Cases

API monitoring plays a vital role in ensuring the reliability of APIs in various scenarios:

  • Validating Multi-Step User Journeys: Monitor each step by ensuring that complex workflows involving multiple APIs function correctly.
  • Surfacing Security Vulnerabilities: Identify and monitor security vulnerabilities within APIs continuously.
  • Testing Complex, Multi-Step API Flows: Validate intricate API workflows to address potential issues preemptively.
  • Monitoring Availability and Response Time Globally: Track API performance across different geographical locations to ensure global availability.
  • Tracking and Enforcing Performance SLAs of Third-Party APIs: Ensure third-party APIs meet performance SLAs.
  • Verifying Correctness of API Responses: Monitor API responses to ensure data correctness.
  • Testing the Entire CRUD Life Cycle of a Data Object via an API: Validate, create, read, update, and delete operations through APIs.
  • Handling Complex, Token-Based API Authentication Systems: Manage and monitor complex token authentication processes.
  • Monitoring Application Status Pages: Regularly check application status pages to verify reported system statuses.

What are API Monitoring Tools, and How Do They Help?

API monitoring tools automate the tracking and analysis of API performance metrics. These tools provide features like:

  • Automated testing to regularly test APIs without manual intervention.
  • Real-time alerts to notify stakeholders of issues as they occur.
  • Detailed reporting for performance analysis. These reports can highlight trends and help in decision-making.
  • Dashboard views to visualize API metrics and get a quick overview of the API’s health and performance.

API Monitoring Best Practices

To get the most out of API monitoring, organizations should follow these best practices:

  • 24/7 API Monitoring: A continuous monitoring system is in place to monitor all their API endpoints around the clock. Monitoring APIs 24/7 minimizes the impact of service downgrading and downtime on users and continuously improves API performance.
  • Multi-Location Monitoring: Organizations should monitor their API’s performance from multiple locations to ensure it performs well for all users. Monitoring from different regions can detect issues affecting only users in specific locations.
  • Monitor API Dependencies: Other internal or external APIs may depend on the organization’s APIs, so it is crucial to monitor their behavior to identify issues that may be impacting the API’s performance.
  • Automate API Monitoring: Adopting automation into the API monitoring process can save time and resources, enhance the API’s performance, and improve the ability to respond to issues quickly.
  • Analyze Trends: Analyzing performance trends over time can help identify potential issues and plan for future capacity needs. Analyzing these trends allows organizations to anticipate the problems before they occur.
  • Robust Monitoring and Alerting Capabilities: Monitoring tools that track the API’s real-time performance provide a complete view of its health. Tools with strong alerting features enable monitoring from multiple perspectives, allowing the quick identification and resolution of API problems.

Monitor APIs in Real Time with Astera API Management Solution

With Astera’s unified API management platform, you can instantly visualize API usage and get real-time business insights from APIs. Astera’s strong built-in functionalities and intuitive no-code interface make designing, managing, and monitoring APIs easy and quick.

Along with other API lifecycle management features, our solution also has the following powerful monitoring capabilities:

  • Live Monitoring Dashboard: With our dashboard, you can monitor API calls, performance, response times, uptime, availability, and consumption trends in real-time. You can also display crucial API performance metrics via visualizations, charts, and graphics and get a bird’ s-eye view of the data.
  • API Reports: View granular API request details with complete information about request meta information and runtime statistics. These reports can be used to debug further, report, and analyze request patterns for deeper insights.
  • Comprehensive Logs: Debug APIs and easily monitor server runtime and diagnostics for request validation, health information, service availability, deployment activity, and more using comprehensive logs.

Watch this video to learn more about Astera API Management:

Final Thoughts

Carefully tracking performance metrics and swiftly addressing any deviations empowers organizations to ensure the reliability and availability of their APIs. This proactive approach helps them safeguard against disruptions and preserve customer trust. Adopting advanced API monitoring solutions, such as Astera, empowers businesses to navigate the complexities of modern API ecosystems.

With Astera’s API Management Solution, organizations can easily track key performance indicators and make data-driven decisions to optimize their APIs. Our no-code solution makes API management simple and accessible, even for those with limited technical expertise.

Sign up for a free 14-day trial and start tracking API metrics for success! Or schedule a demo with one of our experts and learn how to use our API lifecycle management solution to its full potential.

Authors:

  • Abeeha Jaffery
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