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3 Benefits to Including API Testing in Your Development Process

By Ashley Waxman on .

One of the most common ways we see our customers benefiting from API monitoring is in production—making sure those live API endpoints are up, fast and returning the data that’s expected. By monitoring production endpoints, you’re in the loop as soon as anything breaks, giving you a critical head start to fix the problem before customers, partners or end-users notice.

However, we’re starting to see more and more customers create those API tests during the build process in staging and dev environments. As Matt Bernier, Developer Experience Product Manager at SendGrid, says, “We can actually begin testing API endpoints before they’re deployed to our customers, which means...

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Categories: events, testing, product

Runscope Chats with API Thought Leaders at the API Strategy & Practice Conference in Austin

By Ashley Waxman on .

Last month, we had the pleasure of participating in the API Strategy & Practice Conference (APIStrat), one of the leading API conferences for developers to come together and discuss API trends, tools, successes and challenges. APIStrat, organized by APIEvangelist and 3scale, draws an enthusiastic crowd and impressive lineup of speakers spanning API practitioners and consumers from a variety of industries. Runscope Co-founder and CEO John Sheehan spoke on Crafting a Great Webhooks Experience, and...

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Categories: api ecosystem, community, events

Catch the Runscope Team at API Strategy & Practice in Austin

By Neil Mansilla on .

Next week, we're thrilled to be participating in API Strategy & Practice November 18-20, a long-standing API-focused conference that draws compelling speakers from a variety of disciplines who discuss both business and technical aspects of APIs. We've been attending APIStrat for several years and have been so impressed with the content and structure of the conference that we decided to sponsor the event this year in one of our favorite cities, Austin, Texas. Both John Sheehan, Co-founder and CEO of Runscope, and Neil Mansilla, VP of Developer Relations, will be speaking at APIStrat, and...

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Categories: events, community, api ecosystem

Cool Gadgets & Cloud Services Under the Desert Sun: On the Ground at AWS re:Invent

By Anthony Topper on .

We’re excited to have Anthony Topper, a student at the Advanced Math and Science Academy in Massachusetts, provide a first-timer’s take on last week’s AWS re:Invent conference. He published his first app to the iTunes App Store at age 12 and continues to work on web, mobile and backend projects. Anthony reached out to several re:Invent sponsors asking if he could purchase a spare ticket to the conference, and Runscope Principal Infrastructure Engineer—and Amazon Community Hero—Ryan Park was thrilled to give Anthony his pass.

Anthony Topper (left) visits the Runscope booth in the expo hall at AWS re:Invent last week in Las Vegas with Neil Mansilla, VP of Developer Relations at Runscope.

Anthony Topper (left) visits the Runscope booth in the expo hall at AWS re:Invent last week in Las Vegas with Neil Mansilla, VP of Developer Relations at Runscope.

It was around 90 degrees, hot even for Vegas at this time of year. I woke up that Tuesday, expecting to see what was new at AWS re:Invent—but the conference offered so much more. As a high school student, I was in awe at the grand scale of this conference. Topping off at over 19,000 attendees, this year’s re:Invent was the biggest ever. Left, right and center were various software architects, developers and executives eager to see what was new in cloud technology. Senior Vice President of AWS, Andy Jassy, kicked off this event with a keynote introducing new enterprise services. He talked about new ways for large businesses to transfer data over physical disks using Snowball and ways to load huge amounts of streaming data using AWS Kinesis Firehose.

IoT All Around, from Robots to Hand Sanitizer

I found interest, however, in more startup-accessible services. Dr. Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon, showed off Amazon’s latest and greatest: AWS IoT, AWS Inspector, AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF), AWS Lambda’s new features and many more. The general manager of AWS product strategy, Dr. Matt Wood, ran an intriguing IoT demo, which featured a robotic arm and 3D motion sensor. As he waved his hand above the sensor, the arm matched his movements—this was truly stunning. Data was streaming all the way up to the AWS IoT servers, and all the way back to the arm with sub-second latency. If this is the power of Amazon’s new service, who knows what the limits are! 

All around the conference, there were hand sanitizers that were “internet enabled”—each time one was nearly out of gel, an alert was sent to the staff and a new cartridge was automatically ordered from Amazon. The high level of integration that we have seen in Amazon’s cloud services now manifests itself in a more physical sense. A thermostat that turns on the AC when you are 10 minutes from home, or a self-driving car that determines the best route to take. In fact, the latter example is already being used by farmers. Patrick Pinkston, VP of Information Solutions at John Deere, talked about the company’s use of IoT in the company’s tractors. His team built a tractor to navigate a field with precision down to the centimeter, using GPS and other methods of triangulation, which enabled the tractor to perform runs along a field without requiring an operator inside. In my eyes, this is only the beginning of success in IoT for AWS.  

Startups, Swag & Security

reinvent expo hall.JPG

In the grand expo hall, over 500 sponsors showcased their products and services, and of course, handed out swag. My favorite was Runscope, and the company’s Everything Is Going to Be 200 OK® t-shirt was by far one of the best pieces of swag in the expo hall. I spent quite some time around the startup pavilion, where various mentors and venture capitalists talked about their experience in working with startups. I got to see things like a new statistical visualization engine from a company whose founder designed a new way to show data that is more intuitive and tailored to the needs of each case.

I found newly announced services AWS Inspector and AWS WAF to be particularly useful to this startup community. These tools find security holes in an application. Hackers are constantly seeking means of breaking into systems and retrieving private information or spamming users. With Inspector, you can run a baseline test on an infrastructure, and it will generate a report suggesting what should be improved. It holds a library of security standards, knows the common exploits and will help you avoid security holes. Amazon researchers continuously update the database of known hacks and defenses so developers don’t have to. Similarly, AWS WAF takes direct action against exploits. It plugs the security holes, ensuring that no content is left un-escaped, no secure connections fall back to SSLv3 and services cannot be spammed to drive up costs. As an app developer, I felt that these two services would provide great relief in building a complex backend application. I wouldn’t need to worry about managing my own firewalls, or searching my own code for security fixes. AWS will alert me of issues and block malicious invasions.

Putting a Bow on the Conference by Passing Certification Tests

There were many certification tests available to take at re:Invent—you could become a certified developer, SysOps admin or solutions architect. I originally had a slight fear that I would walk into the exam room and fail the test. I thought it was only accessible by professionals with years of experience and weeks of training. However, I took a test for the developer associate level, and a managed to pass! The exam included questions ranging from DynamoDB write capacity to REST response codes. Because I had coded applications with these Amazon APIs, it seemed relatively simple. Plus, taking a pre-exam bootcamp certainly helped. There were large rooms filled with workstations, each providing free access to AWS and dedicated to testing. They truly offered everything they could to teach incoming architects and developers. After using AWS for quite some time, just like studying anything in university or in practice, it comes with ease.

All in all, I had a marvelous time seeing the new technology that was released, and learning AWS in more depth. Alongside that, it certainly was a great opportunity to network with people, including my new friends at Runscope. I hope to return next year to meet people and see the next iteration of AWS’ developer services.

Want some 200 OK swag for yourself? Sign up for Runscope for free and we’ll mail you a t-shirt!

Categories: events, community

What’s Really Going on at the Bleeding Edge of DevOps—Takeaways from AutomaCon

By Garrett Heel on .

We’re big fans of automation at Runscope, and most of the automation we practice is behind the scenes. Runscope is built on more than 70 independent microservices that run in the cloud, and being able to orchestrate and automate those services efficiently is absolutely essential to successfully scaling our products and processes. Last week, we attended AutomaCon in Portland, Oregon, a conference focused on automation for DevOps professionals. Engineers interested in the bleeding edge of DevOps came together to hear from the brains and hands behind some of the most popular automation tools like CoreOS, Chef and Puppet.

While AutomaCon is known as the “infrastructure as code” conference, every presenter put forward a different definition of the concept, making for a diverse and compelling collection of talks. What made the conference particularly noteworthy is that the talks were centered on what the presenters were doing for automation in practice—no theories, no speculation, just real tools and experiences from which the rest of the community can learn. We’ve compiled our learnings from the conference into four key themes that reveal some interesting findings about today’s DevOps ecosystem and where it’s headed.

1. No standard definition for “infrastructure as code”

AutomaCon kicked off with the emcee posing the question, “What is ‘infrastructure as code'?", and nearly every presenter over the course of two days responded in his/her own way. Many times, the definition was created through stories about practical applications. My favorite definition came from Adam Jacob, CTO and Co-founder of Chef:

Infrastructure as code “enables the reconstruction of the business from nothing but a source code repository, an application data backup, and bare mental resource.”

Even though others at the conference didn’t give this exact definition, the way they spoke about automation was in the spirit of this quote, and this definition was the most concrete one I heard all week.

2. Containers and orchestration: Perception vs. reality

Greg Poirier, Factotum at Large at Opsee, presents at AutomaCon.

Greg Poirier, Factotum at Large at Opsee, presents at AutomaCon.

Docker and containerization are dominating engineering and DevOps conversations of late. AutomaCon had some great talks in this arena, and of note was Kelsey Hightower, Product Manager and Chief Advocate at CoreOS, who did a deep-dive into Kubernetes, as well as Greg Poirier, Factotum at Large at Opsee. However, despite the mindshare, Kelsey looked at containerization as just another tool in the DevOps chest, albeit one that is still in its early stages of adoption.

Prior to AutomaCon, I was convinced that containerization and Docker in particular would saturate the discussions. Yet when Kelsey and other speakers did a poll at the beginning of their talks asking how many attendees had tried out Docker, less than half of the crowd raised their hands. Even more telling, when asked how many use Docker in production, nearly all the hands fell. Clearly, even for this crowd of bleeding edge developers and DevOps engineers, containerization is still in its early days.

3. Security isn’t there (yet)

Joseph Damato, Founder of Package Cloud, discusses security at AutomaCon.

Joseph Damato, Founder of Package Cloud, discusses security at AutomaCon.

While the focus of the conference was on automation, presenters made it clear that security cannot be ignored or sacrificed in exchange for benefits of automation. In his presentation, Joseph Damato, Founder of Package Cloud, discussed the fundamental components required for securing automated infrastructure. He also reminded the audience that tools ubiquitous in DevOps are built upon many layers and that we must understand every one of these layers to have confidence in the security of our systems.

4. Death to cut & paste

Many solutions for managing infrastructure as code are in the early adoption phase, so documentation and best practices guides have not yet been sufficiently provided. The steep learning curve to these solutions have led to an unprecedented amount of cut-and-paste configurations, and several speakers discussed the danger of this practice. Relying on a cut-and-paste solution is a quick fix, but precludes you from learning the details and nuances of a framework or tool before considering the solution ready for production.

Luke Kanies, CEO and Founder of Puppet Labs, likened the current state of software automation to that of the evolution of automobile manufacturing. Kanies said that there were dozens of companies in the early 20th century along with Ford Motor Company that implemented manufacturing optimizations. Yet it was Henry Ford’s relentless focus on volume that helped evolve manufacturing, ultimately to Ford’s success. While the automobile manufacturing process was much faster, Ford didn’t sacrifice quality. This parallels to today’s automation tools in that we must not sacrifice quality purely for the sake of automation and scale.


Automation is not new, and in DevOps, there are tons of new ideas and tools coming out. Yet as we learned at AutomaCon, we must not leave behind the care and attention to detail as we move forward into more and more automated processes. We’re excited to take these learnings on the road at our next conference appearance. We’ll be at AWS re:Invent October 6-9 in Las Vegas, and we’d love to chat with you about automation and anything API-related. Sign up for Runscope free and catch us at re:Invent to discuss how to automate your API monitoring and testing processes.

Categories: api ecosystem, events, microservices

Innovative Solutions to 5 Modern Challenges: Insights from Monitorama

By Neil Mansilla on .

This week, we had the pleasure of sponsoring Monitorama, an annual conference focused on open source, monitoring and developer tools—all topics in Runscope’s wheelhouse. We were in impressive company, with speakers from Netflix, Google, Twitter and many more presenting on lessons learned and best practices around monitoring their services. Monitorama’s first conference was in 2012, and the industry has grown leaps and bounds in the short time since then. Much of this year’s conference looked back on how far we’ve come, and naturally the new challenges that have arisen as more businesses have realized the value of monitoring and integrated it into all systems, from legacy to microservices. From this year’s Monitorama, we identified five modern challenges in monitoring, and the solutions from industry experts for how to combat them.

Challenge 1: Prioritizing Issues as Your Platform Grows

As your business becomes successful, you’ll naturally have to deal with growing pains. The number of issues incurred will increase, and prioritization will be key to efficiency. Netflix handles upwards of 36% of all downstream Internet traffic in the United States, and the company had several speakers at Monitorama sharing their experiences in scaling its complex and widespread system. Sergey Fedorov, Senior Software Engineer at Netflix, shared that one way to prioritize issues is to understand that big problems start small. Your customers will notice if you ignore the small things, and they will eventually be indicators of larger problems. Netflix looks at its problems from the customer perspective—issues that affect the customer experience are of the highest priority.

Challenge 2: Scaling with an Increasingly Complex System

Another common issue that comes with success is that your system must become more complex to meet the needs of a vast and diverse user base. Tony Rippy, Site Reliability Engineer at Google, presented Google’s entire evolution of monitoring, including its most humble beginnings—a Perl script running on someone’s desktop computer. As Google experienced unparalleled growth, it did a complete 180 by building an overly engineered system that was difficult to use. After many years and iterations, the company finally landed on an impressive system dubbed Borgmon that is highly redundant, built for scale and easier to manage.

From Twitter, Software Engineer Arun Kejariwal brought data science into the mix with a technical presentation on anomaly detection on server performance, complete with an array of scientific algorithms. Kejariwal's team at Twitter released an open source library to bridge the gap in technology so that other operations teams could incorporate Twitter’s research into their monitoring projects.

Challenge 3: Choosing the Right Tools for the Job

There are a plethora of creative companies out there building tools to solve even the most niche pain points. On selecting tools for monitoring microservices architecture, Camille Fournier, CTO of Rent the Runway, recommended picking just a few rather than trying to implement every tool available to fit each individual need. From her experience, adopting too many tools that do essentially the same thing and collect tons of data is a waste of time and money because no one ends up using them, leading to more confusion rather than utility.

In the same vein, Stephen Boak, CPO and Co-founder at Opsee, recommends bringing monitoring and actionable data to where the conversation is happening. Oftentimes, new products develop their own applications, which only adds more to an engineer’s plate instead of streamlining workflow. Instead, Boak suggests integrating your monitoring tool with platforms like Slack. Those communication platforms are tried and true, and Boak says that it’s better to go where your users are than to try and reinvent the wheel. 

Challenge 4: Maintaining a Human Touch

Going where your users are reinforces the idea that all technology needs to have a human touch. Chrissie Brodigan, UX Researcher at GitHub, spoke at length about her company’s efforts to build a human-focused experience with a very engineering-centric product. Even the most technological or futuristic product can find room to add a human element to keep users coming back.

Challenge 5: When All Else Fails, Give Them Swag

While swag won’t fix your monitoring system blues, it doesn’t hurt to get a few tokens of appreciation for your efforts. At Monitorama, attendees strolled down the buffet of swag and were outfitted from head to toe—literally—with hats, shirts and socks.

The right tools can help mitigate these challenges and get rid of headaches that come with over-architecting and scaling. Give Runscope a try (it’s free!) and see how easy API monitoring can be—no code required.

Categories: monitoring, events, api ecosystem, microservices

Everything is going to be 200 OK®