What Is an API Gateway?

What Is an API Gateway?

What Is an API Gateway? We are going to use Zato in its capacity as a multi-protocol Python API gateway and we will integrate a few popular technologies. Although we will be focusing on complex API integrations later, to understand the term API gateway we first need to give proper consideration to the very term gateway.

In this article, we are going to use Zato in its capacity as a multi-protocol Python API gateway and we will integrate a few popular technologies.

In this article, we are going to use  Zato in its capacity as a multi-protocol Python API gateway - we will integrate a few popular technologies, accepting requests sent over protocols commonly used in frontend systems, enriching and passing them to backend systems, and returning responses to the API clients using their preferred data formats. But first, let's define what an API gateway is.

Clearing up the Terminology

Although we will be focusing on complex API integrations later, to understand the term API gateway we first need to give proper consideration to the very term gateway.

What comes to mind when we hear the word "gateway," and what is correct etymologically indeed, is an opening in an otherwise impermissible barrier. We use a gateway to access that which is in other circumstances inaccessible for various reasons. We use it to leave such a place too.

In fact, both "gate" and the verb "to go" stem from the same basic root, and that, again, brings to mind a notion of passing through space specifically set aside for the purpose of granting access to what normally would be unavailable. And, once more, when we depart from such an area, we use a gateway too.

From the perspective of its true intended purpose, a gateway letting everyone in and out as they are would amount to little more than a hole in a wall. In other words, a gateway without a gate is not the whole story.

Yes, there is undoubtedly an immense aesthetic gratification to be drawn from being close to marvels of architecture that virtually all medieval or Renaissance gates and gateways represent, but we know that, contemporarily, they do not function to the fullest of their capacities as originally intended.

Rather, we can intuitively say that a gateway is in service as a means of entry and departure if it lets its operators achieve the following, though not necessarily all at the same time, depending on one's particular needs:

  • Telling arrivals where they are, including projection of might and self-confidence.
  • Confirming that arrivals are who they say they are.
  • Checking if their port of origin is friendly or not.
  • Checking if they are allowed to enter that which is protected.
  • Directing them to specific areas behind the gateway.
  • Keeping a long term and short term log of arrivals.
  • Answering potential questions right by the gate, if answers are known to gatekeepers.
  • Cooperating with translators and coordinators that let arrivals make use of what is required during their stay.

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