Six Health Checks for Your API

Organizations of all sizes depend on APIs to decrease time to market, achieve business goals, and connect important systems. In order to count on those APIs, they need to stay operational. You’ll want to consider the six health checks in this post to prevent issues and other interruptions.

The first four are related to the technical details of your APIs:

  • Uptime
  • Latency
  • Error levels
  • Usage

And the remaining two help you understand how each API fits in your organization:

  • Age
  • Strategic value

Together, these health checks will keep your APIs running. Let’s look at them one at a time.

Uptime

An API needs to be ready and able to do its job at all times. To ensure this, we can track any outages that may occur in the API’s uptime. Outages can block users from accessing data, costing time and money. Tracking these outages and setting alerts that trigger when they occur allows you to proactively fix any issues before they cause larger problems. 

Latency

It’s common for APIs to see hundreds or thousands of calls per second. The high traffic means that APIs need to have a low latency to maintain an acceptable response time. To properly judge latency, you need to look at the results beyond a single API call. Continuous API monitoring makes it easier to spot trends over time.

Error levels

Errors from APIs usually happen when a request cannot be completed. This can be caused by a number of things, such as timeouts, bugs, and missing data. APIs rely on HTTP status codes and other error messages to communicate underlying issues. You can track these errors to help you identify weak spots in your code and APIs that may be negatively affecting performance. Like latency, these may have more meaning over time.

Usage

We want to track what’s going wrong with APIs, but also what’s going right. Increased usage of an API is typically a positive sign. It may also be a leading indicator that the API needs more resources to avoid downtime, latency, and errors. Looking at usage data can also help with confirming your API’s strategic value. Is it being used in the way you expected and at the desired level? Often tracking usage can begin fruitful conversations with customers and partners that might not have happened otherwise.

Age

Though the technical performance of your APIs can come through the first four health metrics, you also want to consider how each API fits within your organization. API architecture is constantly evolving and growing. As things change, older APIs may no longer be serviceable or efficient. They may need to be updated or replaced with newer versions. Tracking the age of each API ensures you don’t get stuck in the longest stage of the API lifecycle. Deprecation is natural and keeps older APIs from causing issues within your systems.

Strategic Value

Your organization’s oldest API may still be important to the business. Conversely, if your API goals have changed, even new APIs may no longer be strategic. Like the previous checks for age and usage, you want to ensure the bulk of your energy goes toward APIs that make business sense. As you’re able, create deprecation plans for APIs, so you can put your efforts elsewhere.

Keeping these health checks in mind when working with APIs can make it easier to ensure that all of your systems are communicating properly. To ensure that your APIs are healthy, you can take precautions by performing these checks to catch problems before they become detrimental.

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