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The Benefits of API Monitoring for Business Leaders

Learn how to ensure your APIs run smoothly, minimize errors, improve user experience, and optimize performance with a monitoring solution.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are growing rapidly as software becomes more complex and relies on third-party applications to perform efficiently. This is true for both internal and customer-facing functions. APIs help by guiding the interactions between 2 systems, providing both language and contract information. Every API has its own specifications and documents that outline how data is transferred from one system to another.

APIs are game-changers for expanding functionalities and capabilities when interacting with apps. One of the reasons APIs are becoming more popular is because they don't need a lot of resources to run integrations.

The common usage for APIs includes:

  • Integrating with third-party APIs
  • Building APIs for internal use
  • Building and exposing APIs for external use

APIs can increase value for your business for internal employee and external customer usage. But you can't just install APIs and let them run. It's important to institute routine API monitoring and learn about API endpoints.

We'll help you understand how to measure API performance in order to capture the API's potential value. This process is helpful for small business owners, medium-sized companies, and large enterprises that use APIs in their applications.

What is API monitoring?

API monitoring is the practice of data collection and analysis, providing insight into the performance of an application programming interface. This routine monitoring is used to identify and resolve any problems with performance that can impact users and maximize the value an API can generate. For example, monitoring can detect whether an API isn't running as quickly as it should and help you determine the cause of the performance issue.

Today's applications rely on numerous independent microservices, and if any of those microservices isn't functioning correctly, it can adversely affect an application's overall performance. Additionally, it can be challenging to identify which API isn't working up to par without monitoring.

API monitoring can measure:

  • How long a routine is called
  • How long a routine takes to execute
  • Where it is called from
  • How much total time is used to execute that transaction

Importance of API monitoring

API monitoring essentially allows a business to:

  • Ensure functionality
  • Minimize website security threats
  • Resolve any performance issues quickly
  • Improve user experience

API performance monitoring also allows you to gain answers to following questions:

  • Are the APIs available?
  • How are the APIs behaving?
  • Are the APIs functioning as expected?
  • Are the APIs providing the experience intended?

These questions are important because if the APIs are failing, so are any applications that use them. You can think of APIs as necessary fuel to energize modern applications. If you're using digital transformation in your processes, APIs are most often the foundation that supports a company's move towards digital systems.

This means many applications depend on APIs for functions crucial to running your business. If you don't understand how APIs work and what the API endpoint is, you're creating blind spots in their performance.

If you adopt Agile or other modern practices for your development cycles, such as developing, testing, deploying, and monitoring, you can see why monitoring is critical to the ongoing integration cycle. Maintaining monitoring scripts with the newest versions of function testing will help ensure your functions aren't interrupted during use. There's nothing more frustrating than when an online service isn't operating the way it should.

Keeping your users happy when they utilize your apps is a priority for customer care and retaining clients. If the APIs that drive services for your applications aren't available, working properly, or responsive, the performance of the applications is negatively impacted and end users will become dissatisfied.

How to monitor APIs

The key to monitoring APIs is to track the metrics that reflect the most important factors in an app's performance. These metrics may vary from business to business or application to application. Most often, these metrics include the amount of data returned, the response time to API function calls, and the number of calls to API functions. Other metrics include uptime, average latency, memory and CPU usage, and error rate.

There are currently 2 methods for monitoring APIs:

  1. Synthetic monitoring
  2. Real user monitoring (RUM)

Synthetic monitoring

Synthetic monitoring is a method of measuring app performance that follows the paths users may take while they engage with an application. It automatically monitors app uptime and reports how it responds to typical user behavior. Synthetic monitoring uses scripts to create simulated user interactions with various variables, such as device types, geographic locations, and other possible scenarios. Once the data is compiled and analyzed, a synthetic API monitoring solution produces insights into your application's performance.

Real user monitoring (RUM)

RUM is another monitoring practice that produces valuable insights into an app's performance and usability. However, it uses an entirely different method than synthetic monitoring. RUM observes the actual experiences of users when they engage with the app.

This method uses more than a data sample to collect information. Instead, it captures actual consumer behavior during a transaction or other types of engagement, giving developers the tools to visualize a customer's pathway through the application. Using this technique helps resolve application issues using real-time data from real customers.

RUM gives you full-stack observability for each end user's experience so you don't run into blind spots that could impact your application's overall performance. It also gives you actual data you can use for the future development of applications.

Both types of API monitoring facilitate a smooth process when developing an app. Developers can better understand what a customer goes through when they use the application. Using either type of monitoring will improve the end-user's experience as long as you have a system to analyze the data. A smart practice to implement is using both types of API monitoring, so you get a fuller picture of your API's performance.

To get started with API monitoring, you need to select an API monitoring tool.

Tips for finding the right API monitoring tools

Since you rely on API monitoring to offer a smooth experience for your end users, it's best practice to find the best API monitoring tools to collect and analyze the data. It's important to remember that not all API monitoring tools are alike. Each has strengths and weaknesses that may affect how your data is gathered and interpreted.

It's good to look for API monitoring tools that provide these functions:

  • The ability to identify third-party APIs that are negatively impacting your app's performance.
  • Provide support for both types of monitoring, including synthetic and RUM API monitoring.
  • Real-time analysis of more than monitoring data samples, which offers a comprehensive analysis for your app's performance.

Understanding customer behavior and experience

To truly comprehend how customers use and experience an API, it's a good idea to automate the collection of audience data and the tracking of all user interactions. In this instance, you don't want to discover an aggregate or average number.

Instead, you're concerned with every customer experience and how they perceive your company as a result. This means that even the outliers are important because they impact the quality of the data analysis. Random sampling won't give you the data you're looking for to improve the function and experience of your apps.

The comprehensive, real-time metrics collected and analyzed with RUM give you an authentic look into what your customers are experiencing when they use your app. You can analyze each customer's experience to discover if there's room for improvement. This data is necessary to determine and resolve any application slowdowns and other failures right when they happen. This allows you to fix a problem before it affects more of your customers.

Perhaps, API calls from one geographic location are timing out interactions, but this issue is only happening in some areas. This can be due to a problem caused by your system. However, it may also be the fault of your API provider, not anything your application or system is doing. You must decide how to use your API services for customers in that location, or you can give all of your clients the same experience until the provider makes a change.

API monitoring solutions can be customized to achieve the best fit for your employees and clients.

Monitor your business APIs

Now that you know the importance of monitoring APIs, it’s essential to take a proactive approach and regularly track the performance of your applications. Doing so allows you to identify issues that may affect usability quickly and efficiently. As a result, you can minimize disruptions and increase uptime for all users, thus providing a positive experience with your brand.

You don't have to figure out how to monitor your APIs alone. Not only can you build integrations with Mailchimp’s developer tools, but you can also keep an eye on their performance.

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