Amazon API Gateway

Welcome to issue #6 of the “AWS services shorts”, In each issue, I present to you an AWS service and explore what its strengths and weaknesses are, discover some use cases, and finally what the most common mistakes people are making with it.

Today’s issue is about Amazon API Gateway!

If you prefer you can watch the video on YouTube


Amazon API Gateway allows developers to create, deploy, monitor, and maintain secure APIs at any scale. It acts as a “front door” for developers to access data, business logic, or functionality from back-end services, whether those services reside within AWS, on-premises, or third-party platforms.

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Simplicity in API Creation and Deployment

API Gateway offers a straightforward and intuitive process for creating and deploying APIs. Its visual interface, coupled with integrations with other AWS services like AWS Lambda, makes the setup process smooth, even for those without deep technical expertise.

Integrated Security Features

API Gateway provides out-of-the-box security features such as AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) for access control, custom authorizers for token-based authentication, and AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall) for shielding your API from common web exploits.

Performance at Scale

One of API Gateway’s major advantages is its ability to scale automatically based on incoming traffic. There’s no need to provision or maintain any infrastructure. Coupled with caching mechanisms, it ensures that APIs can handle large volumes of requests without compromising performance.

Monitoring and Logging

Integration with AWS CloudWatch and AWS X-Ray gives users deep insights into their API usage patterns, performance metrics, and traces. This allows for proactive issue detection and ensures operational health.

Flexible Billing and Cost Efficiency

API Gateway uses a pay-as-you-go model, ensuring users only pay for the API calls they make and the data transferred out. This model, combined with the absence of infrastructure overhead, makes it a cost-efficient solution for many businesses.


Cold Starts

Like other serverless services, API Gateway can experience cold starts, especially when integrated with AWS Lambda. This can introduce latency into API responses, especially for VPC-connected functions.

Cost Concerns at High Volumes

For applications with a significant number of API requests, costs can rise considerably, especially if caching isn’t employed effectively or if data transfer out is substantial.

Integration Limitations

While API Gateway integrates seamlessly with many AWS services, there can be limitations when integrating with non-AWS services or specific third-party tools.

Use Cases

Serverless Applications

With its seamless integration with AWS Lambda, API Gateway is a go-to choice for building serverless applications, where backend logic is executed in response to API calls.

Web and Mobile Application Backends

It serves as a robust backend entry point for web applications, managing requests, securing endpoints, and ensuring performance.


Improper Error Handling

Not setting up custom error responses can lead to exposing stack traces or sensitive information, potentially jeopardizing security.

Overlooking Security Best Practices

Skipping steps like setting up throttling, using custom domain names with SSL certificates, or ignoring IAM roles can lead to vulnerabilities.

Misconfigured CORS

Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) can be tricky. Misconfigurations can lead to requests being blocked or data being exposed to unintended origins.

Not Accounting for Cold Starts

Not optimizing for or acknowledging cold starts can lead to inconsistent performance, especially for applications requiring low-latency responses.

Not Using Caching Effectively

Overlooking caching settings can lead to performance issues and higher costs, especially for frequently accessed endpoints.

Hardcoding Configurations

Hardcoding stage variables or configurations can lead to issues during deployment or scaling. It’s crucial to parameterize configurations when possible.

Ignoring API Versioning

Not using versioning can make future updates challenging and may break applications relying on specific API versions.

Neglecting Monitoring and Logging

Not leveraging AWS CloudWatch or AWS X-Ray can leave blind spots in operational health, making issue detection and resolution more difficult.

I hope you find this overview useful!
Did you like it? Too long? To short? Something is missing?
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