An API gateway sits between an organizations’ APIs and their users. It operates as a reverse proxy, providing a single point of contact for all API requests and routing them to the correct services behind the scenes. When an API gateway receives an API request, it identifies the service or services needed to fulfill those requests. The API makes requests to the appropriate services, aggregates the results, and returns a single response to the user.
API gateways provide several different benefits to an organization. These include:
As its name suggests, an API gateway can be used with any type of web API including:
However, the benefits of an API gateway are not limited to these services. API gateways can also be used to support DevOps by integrating microservices and to help with the deployment and management of cloud-based workloads.
DevOps is focused on rapid, agile development practices with short development cycles. Organizations following DevOps principles commonly use a microservices architecture, where each application performs a single, distinct function. Accomplishing a task in such an architecture requires calls to multiple microservices.
An API gateway can help turn an array of microservices into a cohesive API. When the gateway receives a request, it will make requests to each of the microservices and create a single response based on the results of these requests. This provides a simple, user-friendly interface to API users while enabling DevOps practices and a microservices architecture behind the scenes.
With the rise of cloud computing, cloud-based workloads have become a common choice for organizations looking to take full benefit of the cloud’s capabilities. Using containerization, serverless functions, and Kubernetes, cloud-based applications can be designed to be more adaptable and scalable than traditional applications.
In the modern cloud, APIs are commonly used for provisioning infrastructure. In a serverless architecture, serverless functions can be deployed in the cloud and managed via APIs by the API gateway.
API management and API gateways are related but distinct concepts. API management is a collection of tools, policies, and processes that an organization uses to control its API. This can include API configurations, management, security, and other considerations.
An API gateway is one of the tools that an organization may use to implement API management. By acting as a gatekeeper between an organization’s APIs and their users, an API gateway enables the company to enforce its policies and to modify its backend services more easily and without causing disruption to its customers.
APIs make up a growing percentage of organizations’ Internet-facing assets, making them a vital part of corporate application security strategies. To learn more about securing cloud-based workloads, check out Check Point’s Application Security eBook.
Check Point CloudGuard offers a wide range of application security functions, including the ability to act as an API gateway to improve application security and management. To learn more about how Check Point CloudGuard can improve your API security, request a free demo. You’re also welcome to try it out for yourself with a free trial.