Browse Definitions:

API gateway (application programming interface gateway)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

An API gateway is programming that sits in front of an application programming interface (API) and filters traffic. This front-end programming is useful when clients built with microservices make use of multiple, disparate APIs.

API gateways can be used to throttle traffic and enforce security policies. Besides combining a number of APIs with potentially different interfaces into a unified presentation interface, the separation of interface and API has a number of benefits.

When an API contains all needed functions, ease of use can be improved by updating the gateway's interface. Because the API gateway is separate, it can be updated while avoiding changes to an API that might result in unexpected operation. An API gateway's front-facing nature allows the gateway to provide for new languages while the hidden APIs remain untouched, rather than updating multiple APIs separately.

While deploying a single, monolithic application can have initial advantages, updating can become time-consuming and complications can arise from code accidentally affected when trying to update another particular bit of code.  API gateways grew naturally out of the efforts of companies to reliably provide challenging services. API gateways allow the providers of web services to be more flexible and reliable in providing scalable interfaces for clients.

API gateways perform functions such as:

  • Throttling.
  • Caching.
  • Security (authentication and threat protection).
  • API creation with built in, sometimes visual, editors.
  • API management.
  • Monitoring and analytics.
  • Contract and service level agreement management.
This was last updated in December 2017

Continue Reading About API gateway (application programming interface gateway)

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.


File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:


  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...


  • federated identity management (FIM)

    Federated identity management (FIM) is an arrangement that can be made among multiple enterprises to let subscribers use the same...

  • cross-site scripting (XSS)

    Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of injection security attack in which an attacker injects data, such as a malicious script, ...

  • firewall

    In computing, a firewall is software or firmware that enforces a set of rules about what data packets will be allowed to enter or...



  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...


  • volume manager

    A volume manager is software within an operating system (OS) that controls capacity allocation for storage arrays.

  • external storage device

    An external storage device, also referred to as auxiliary storage and secondary storage, is a device that contains all the ...

  • NetApp SolidFire

    NetApp SolidFire is a business division of NetApp Inc. that specializes in all-flash storage systems.


  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.