The benefits of a performance benchmark for API management

Introduction

Application programming interfaces, or APIs, are now the standard infrastructure for communication software. Popular infrastructures such as containers and Kubernetes have increased demand for lightweight, high-performance solutions, and organizations are selecting API management as a preferred option, avoiding the costs of custom code.

But with this rise in popularity comes an increase in providers offering solutions, filling the market with good and not-so-good services. Suppliers must try harder to sell their product and demonstrate that it is of high quality, cost-effective and efficient. Solutions can often look the same on paper, but differ greatly in practice, so customers need guidance in finding the best option for their requirements.

APIs must work with high-performance computing, to allow complex data to be processed at high speed. Benchmarks are a way of verifying the product, providing evidence that key features like latency speed are working as they should. Through the use of benchmarks, vendors can be tested and positioned alongside competitors, giving recognition to those who stand out in the field and proof that quality software is produced to industry standards.

Benchmark and field test reports can form the basis of bids and marketing guarantees, providing an independent third-party perspective for an unbiased and professional overview. Customers respond better to marketing verified by an external source, as it gives weight to the information provided, over material produced internally. It can also help to understand how two seemingly similar API management solutions differ.

Identification of high-quality API management

API latency tests measure the delay as data is transferred from source to destination over a network connection. It’s a key product feature for an API system: the faster communications can be processed, the more attractive it is to customers. If websites have a lot of latency, bandwidth can suffer, so optimizing APIs can help reduce costs, increase customer traffic, and improve site functionality.

Customers looking for faster software may not understand the full capabilities of APIs and microservices, and building a compelling and credible argument for a solution’s reliability can take several forms, depending on individual requirements. The market is competitive, with more companies moving towards expanding their core platforms and the popularity of API tools increasing, mainly due to the Service Oriented Architecture movement.

Offering a standout product, particularly when protocols and methods vary widely within one’s own infrastructures, can present challenges for start-ups competing with an established market and for long-term companies that need to move forward and refresh products.

Customers often look for the cheapest option without understanding the use case for higher cost, performance-oriented products. A storyline must be created for the execution and delivery of the API solution, so that customers understand how it works in real-life scenarios. Benchmarks allow customers to see how solutions perform before committing to service and provide recognition to vendors that deliver high-quality services.

Difficulties in performance tests

Benchmark testing faces challenges, predictably, particularly when the software is in the cloud. Configurations may favor one vendor over another, or when testing fully managed as-a-service offerings where the underlying configurations (processing power, memory, networking, etc.) are unknown. A similar framework for testing allows configurations to be aligned across solutions.

Benchmarking is often done behind closed doors, but transparent testing gives vendors and customers a full understanding of the analysis, the results, and how conclusions are formed. Test environments should be designed to be as realistic and accurate as possible so that the results mimic a believable scenario.

The goal of API management performance benchmarks is to provide evidence of how well each of the platforms supports significant transaction loads. For large and complex organizations, choosing a system that can process large amounts of data is imperative. A benchmark report not only gives the client evidence of performance, it shows evidence of who is the best in the market.

Conclution

APIs are driven by the performance and latency reduction they can offer businesses. The demand for APIs is increasing, and in turn, older solutions are evolving to include microservices, while new providers are trying to find their place in the market.

Benchmark testing can offer vendors verified third-party endorsement using realistic environments to test performance and corroborate information in marketing material. GigaOm testing offers full disclosure, where other benchmarking companies do the testing behind closed doors. For business decision makers who need support to promote an API solution within their company, these transparent and honest tests provide the evidence for a use case.

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