Overcoming the Challenges of API Integration

By CIOReview | Wednesday, October 11, 2017
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Our dependency on a technology-driven lifestyle has resulted in the huge influx of software applications and has significantly increased the demand of customized services and products tailor made to suit our needs. With massive amounts of data being exchanged among applications, end users, clients, and servers, it is imperative to maintain an unhindered flow of data. Cloud-based applications, wearables, mobile applications, everything needs API as a medium to exchange information between applications and systems. As APIs gain momentum in mobile delivery, it becomes imperative to create secure mobile APIs. Also as APIs deliver solutions across multiple platforms effectively, it is crucial to leverage it in a secured manner.

As APIs transfer data to and fro from devices to cloud, HTTPS protocol can be utilized to protect the data while in transit and encrypt the data resting on the server or on the client. APIs that require developer registration can reduce the possibilities of data breach. To keep a track of devices utilising an API, API keys are put to use which are unique for each developer and should be stored in Base64 encryption on the server. Mobile APIs can also be secured with token-based authentication solutions like Oauth or Ouath 2. JSON Web Token is another ideal solution to API security issue that helps to create random tokens with the help of specific tools. These tokens can be published to devices and expire after a given time.

RESTful ( representational state transfer) architectural model is thriving as application developers find this API building style to be more agile. Cloud service providers like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft prefer REST’s decouple architecture as it provides lightweight communication between consumers and producers, making it a smart choice for cloud-based APIs. The microservice architectural style is also preferred over conventional SOA (Service-oriented Architecture) because it is independently scalable, deployable, reduces production time, and also complements cloud activities.

Although Microservice and REST architecture come with a suite of advantages, there are a number of security concerns that arise with deployment of these. As there is lesser overall consistency in app updates, security breaches can become increasingly easier. Security tools are limited in number for microservices and more network areas become exposed to vulnerabilities. An effective way to secure REST is establishing a private Request for Comment (RFC) 1918, a memorandum used to create networking standards by which networking equipment assigns IP addresses, address space in which the components are deployed.

 Another key challenge of microservices and REST APIs is testing them which can be extremely difficult if performed by conventional methods. The primary obstacle in testing these in cloud is their implementation which can collide with cloud resource mapping. Behind successful testing of microservices and APIs in the cloud, is the concept of “abstraction” which is technique to expose the features of something without exposing the implementation. It helps include component scaling and resource allocation features that are to be used, with respect to the objectives to be accomplished and practices to be deployed. This enables a test plan to include the cloud-related elements and maintain the cloud quality of experience.

Assisting convenient component integration and possessing greater potential of resilience and scalability in cloud applications, REST and microservices are scaling high in their implementation. While they do this by providing a lenient alternative to the tight rules for component binding introduced by SOAP, application developer must be vigilant enough in order to thwart the risks of security breaches and ensure compliance.