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InfoQ Homepage News Cloudflare Report Shows Rapid Growth in API Traffic

Cloudflare Report Shows Rapid Growth in API Traffic

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Cloudflare has recently released its annual Landscape of API Traffic report. The report analyzes the traffic data harnessed by Cloudflare’s global network to provide insights into the current industry trends of web traffic.

The report examines web traffic data, provided by the Cloudflare Radar team, from the first week of February 2021 to the first week of December 2021. The report dissects the API traffic in various ways to provide some insights into the current landscape and the evolution of API traffic. API was growing the fastest among all the traffic types, up by 21% during the review period.

Cloudflare attributes the wide adoption of microservices and serverless architectures and the maturity and frontend-backend separation like Jamstack architecture as the first reason behind the observed rapid growth.

Microservices architecture has been categorized as a late majority trend for quite some time on the annual InfoQ Architecture and Design Trends Report. Meanwhile, InfoQ has moved the serverless trend to the early majority category in 2021 from the early adopter category in the year before. This testifies that microservice architecture has become easier to build and more accessible as more matured tools such as Kubernetes and Prometheus become available to the community. API traffic accounted for 54% of the total measured traffic by the end of the review period.

While JSON has the largest number of requests, as it’s the most common content type for REST APIs, the report finds a steady increase in gRPC traffic. gRPC is another commonly used protocol to connect services in a microservices-style architecture. In the latest InfoQ architecture and design trends report, gRPC is seen to be moved from the early majority category in the year before to the late majority category in 2021.

The second observation the report made is the wider adoption of APIs by organizations in a broad range of industries previously seen as monolithic, with large, vertically-integrated service providers. These businesses think an API-first approach will provide a competitive edge.

The leading sector with the largest API traffic growth was banking, with 70% year-over-year growth, followed by retail, with 51% growth, and financial services, with 50% growth. Banking and retail account for 6% and 5% of API traffic respectively.

While blockchain remains in the innovator category on the InfoQ trends report, API traffic related to cryptocurrency already accounts for 7% of API traffic, and it’s the second-largest industry by API traffic.

Industries such as banking and cryptocurrency that require a high level of security and encryption may have also contributed to other observations made by Cloudflare. Transport security protocol TLS1.3 has surpassed its previous version TLS1.2 in popularity by a large margin, 55.9% vs 32.7% of the API traffic. And the recently deprecated TLS1.0 protocol with known vulnerabilities accounts for only 0.3% of the traffic.

The last sector of growth in API traffic is attributed to the growth and evolution of machine-to-machine and human-to-machine communication. The increased popularity of connected devices such as wearables, sports equipment, and gaming platforms is driving more APIs. These non-browser devices and mobile apps account for 56% of the observed traffic compared to browser traffic at 38%.

Another area of growth in human-to-machine communication is the automation of manual repetitive tasks. Infrastructure as code and container orchestration are both categorized as late majority in the latest DevOps and Cloud InfoQ Trends Report. They are both examples of using APIs to automate and replace ClickOps that have been used to manage cloud infrastructures in the past.

Cloudflare’s report provides a general analysis of API traffic in 2021. Cloudflare is a leading cloud-computing company that provides content-delivery-network and other cloud-infrastructure services. Cloudflare provides support for roughly 20% of all internet traffic

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