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October 13 - 15


Back-End Developer

API Gateways are Going Through an Identity Crisis

Christian Posta   

API Gateways provide functionality like rate limiting, authentication, request routing, reporting, and more. If you’ve been following the rise in service-mesh technologies, you’ll notice there is a lot of overlap with API Gateways when solving some of the challenges of microservices. If service mesh can solve these same problems, you may wonder whether you really need a dedicated API Gateway solution?

The reality is there is some nuance in the problems solved at the edge (API Gateway) compared to service-to-service communication (service mesh) within a cluster. But with the evolution of cluster-deployment patterns, these nuances are becoming less important. What’s more important is that the API Gateway is evolving to live at a layer above service mesh and not directly overlapping with it. In other words, API Gateways are evolving to solve application-level concerns like aggregation, transformation, and deeper context and content-based routing as well as fitting into a more self-service, GitOps style workflow.

In this talk we put aside the “API Gateway” infrastructure as we know it today and go back to first principles with the “API Gateway pattern” and revisit the real problems we’re trying to solve. Then we’ll discuss pros and cons of alternative ways to implement the API Gateway pattern and finally look at open source projects like Envoy, Kubernetes, and GraphQL to see how the “API Gateway pattern” actually becomes the API for our applications while coexisting nicely with a service mesh (if you adopt a service mesh).