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APIs and Microservices in Financial Infrastructure: Benefits and Challenges

Companies in the fintech environment are constantly looking for ways to improve their technology infrastructure to increase efficiency and provide better services to their customers. One of the modern approaches is the use of APIs and microservices.

These technologies enable the development of flexible and scalable systems that can quickly adapt to changing market demands. In this article, we will look at what APIs and microservices are, their advantages and disadvantages, and discuss best practices for their implementation in the infrastructure of financial brokerage companies.

API (Application Programming Interface) is an interface that allows software applications to interact with each other. In the context of financial brokerage firms, APIs can be used to integrate various services such as trading platforms, analytical tools and customer databases.

Microservices is an architectural style in which an application is developed as a collection of small, independent services, each performing a specific task and interacting with other services through an API. This approach differs from monolithic architecture, where all system components are integrated into a single application.

Benefits of Using APIs and Microservices

Business Benefits

Creating New Products. APIs open up opportunities for creating new products, allowing companies to expand their range of services and adapt to changing market needs. For example, trading APIs can significantly increase trading volumes, leading to higher commission revenues and overall trade volume. This is particularly relevant for brokerage firms aiming to increase their profitability and competitiveness.

Simplified Integration. APIs create an environment for developing new products and simplify the process of integrating with other systems. This is especially important in the context of rapidly changing technologies and customer needs. In today's world, where the speed of adaptation and change are key success factors, the ability to quickly integrate new solutions plays a critical role.

Evolution of Integration Approaches. Traditionally, integration was performed using a "pull" approach, where a component waited for an event on the data bus. In modern conditions, microservice architecture is shifting to a "push" approach, allowing more effective event response and improving system reliability. The combination of "push" and "pull" approaches provides a more flexible and resilient infrastructure that can adapt to various usage scenarios.

Increased Flexibility and Scalability. Microservices allow companies to more easily scale their systems by adding or modifying functional components without having to modify the entire application. This is especially useful for brokerage firms that often face changes in market conditions and need to quickly adapt to them.

Customer Benefits

  • Improved Service Quality: By using APIs and microservices, companies can respond faster to customer requests and provide higher quality and more personalized services. For example, automating processes through APIs can reduce request processing times and improve user experience.

  • Simplified Access to Services: APIs allow customers to easily integrate with the company's systems, providing access to necessary data and services. This simplifies working with the brokerage company and makes its services more attractive to customers.

Challenges of Using APIs and Microservices

Security

Complexity of Auditing. Microservices often use open-source libraries, which complicates security auditing. Comparing the modern environment to an anthill, where millions of ants (microservices) are constantly moving, highlights the complexity of ensuring security. It is important not only to track each library but also to regularly update it to eliminate vulnerabilities.

Need for Modern Network Infrastructure. Corporate networks must be modernized to support microservices, which generate a large number of requests and TCP sessions. This requires careful management of NAT rules and constant network activity monitoring. Without proper modernization, the network can become a bottleneck, hindering the operation of microservices and degrading overall system performance.

Maintaining Reliability. Microservices imply certain disruptions in operation due to their nature, and ensuring their reliability requires the use of watchdogs that monitor event streams and replenish missed calls. This allows for stable system operation even under high loads and individual component failures.

Data Protection. Since microservices process large volumes of data and often interact with various sources, ensuring data protection becomes a top priority. Modern encryption and authentication methods must be implemented to protect data at all stages of processing.

Network Aspects

Network Resource Management. As the number of microservices increases, the need for effective network resource management grows. Reliable routing and load balancing must be ensured to avoid network congestion and provide stable operation of all components.

Monitoring and Diagnostics. In a microservice architecture, monitoring and diagnostics become more complex tasks. Specialized tools are needed to track network status and quickly identify problem areas. This allows for timely incident response and minimizes downtime.

Ensuring Performance. Microservices can create significant network load due to the large number of API calls and active data exchange. It is important to optimize network resources and apply methods such as caching and data compression to ensure high system performance.

Software Architecture

Dependency Management

Version Monitoring. It is important to know the versions of all components used in the system. This is necessary to ensure compatibility and quickly address vulnerabilities. Regularly updating components and monitoring their versions helps keep the system up to date and secure.

Configuration Management. Each microservice environment must be precisely configured, which requires significant efforts in configuration management and monitoring. Automating configuration management processes helps reduce setup time and minimize the risk of errors.

Ensuring Compatibility. Microservices often depend on various external services and libraries, making compatibility assurance critically important. The system must be regularly tested for compatibility of all components and any identified issues must be resolved promptly.

Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD). To effectively manage microservices, it is important to implement continuous integration and delivery processes. This allows for quick deployment of updates and new features, ensuring high development speed and timely response to changing requirements.

Reliability and Fault Tolerance

Resource Redundancy. Ensuring high system reliability requires resource redundancy. This includes duplicating critical components and using backup communication channels.

Automatic Recovery. In case of failure of individual microservices, it is important to ensure automatic recovery of their operation. Methods such as automatic restart and migration of microservices to other nodes can be used for this.

Monitoring and Alerting. Monitoring and alerting systems allow timely identification of issues and prompt response to them. It is important to set up monitoring of all key system indicators and automatic alerts for failures.

Conclusion

The use of APIs and microservices in brokerage infrastructure offers significant business benefits, such as creating new products, simplifying integration, and increasing system flexibility. However, it also involves serious challenges in security, network administration, and software architecture management. Companies must carefully approach the implementation of these technologies, balancing the benefits and potential risks.

Effective use of microservices and APIs requires a comprehensive approach, including modernizing network infrastructure, implementing modern data protection methods, and managing dependencies. Only with a competent approach to implementing these technologies can sustainable growth and development be achieved in the modern digital economy.

 

 

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Comments: (1)

Jeremy Light
Jeremy Light - Fourdotzero - London 01 July, 2024, 14:08Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

For external APIs, stability is critical - technically and commercially. When companies build software embedding third-party APIs, any changes to an API can cause havoc with their software and the product/service using it.

Often, it is better for your customers to build an additional API than change an existing one.

Pavel Perfilov

Pavel Perfilov

IT Manager (engineering)

hedge fund

Member since

26 Jun

Location

Amsterdam

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

API

More generic posts and blogs relating with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) including Open Banking and PSD2


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