API sprawl describes two intertwined challenges that arise as organizations implement digital transformation: exponential growth in the number of APIs and the physical distribution of APIs across multiple architectures and teams.
Many factors contribute to API sprawl. Some of the most common include:
- Hybrid infrastructure – Today 81% of enterprises operate across three or more architectures including public clouds, on‑premises data centers, and edge infrastructure.
- Microservices architectures – The growing adoption of microservices architectures leads to the proliferation of API endpoints as new services come online.
- Continuous software deployment – Developers can rapidly churn out dozens of APIs, or many versions of a single API, over a short period of time.
- Abandoned APIs – As developers move on to support and work on other projects, they stop managing and maintaining the APIs they created.
Why Is API Sprawl a Problem?
API sprawl introduces significant operational and security challenges for enterprises. As API endpoints proliferate across multiple teams and environments, securing and governing APIs becomes a monumental challenge. For enterprises, API sprawl often results in hidden costs – such as lower developer productivity, increased rework, slower reviews – that are not easily measurable until it is too late.
Some of the key challenges of API sprawl include:
- Lack of visibility – Hybrid architectures make it extremely difficult to get a unified view into API traffic and configurations.
- No clear source of truth – Developers struggle to discover APIs and up-to-date documentation.
- Decreased reliability – Misconfigurations become more common, resulting in outages.
- Elevated security threats – Unsecured API endpoints are easy targets for attacks.
You can learn more about API sprawl, and why it’s a significant threat, in our blog 5 Ways to Fight API Sprawl (And Why You Should Care).
How Can NGINX Help?
- Implement an API governance strategy
- Create a single source of truth for APIs
- Ensure proper versioning and documentation
- Provide metrics and visibility
- Apply API security at scale
API Connectivity Manager was also designed with the API developer experience at its core. It enables infrastructure teams to deploy high-performance API gateways and developer portals. Developers can rapidly publish and manage APIs and documentation or discover and onboard APIs into applications.
API Connectivity Manager is a key part of the NGINX Secure API Connectivity solution, which provides these benefits:
- Scalability – Deliver uncompromised performance, reliability, and security with NGINX Plus as an API gateway
- Observability – Monitor API traffic across teams and environments to identify configuration errors and security threats
- Governance – Ensure consistent oversight while empowering API developers to manage their APIs with fine-grained controls
- Security – Defend APIs against common and advanced threats with out-of-the-box protection against the OWASP API Security Top 10