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How To Handle Asynchronous APIs and Long-Running Tasks with an API Gateway

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One critical use of an API gateway is building RESTful APIs that can handle responses and requests efficiently and in record time. But sometimes, your job requires dealing with asynchronous APIs and long-running tasks that would take some time to complete. 

In such cases, you must create API gateway integrations to handle these requests efficiently and quickly. Let’s check out some methods of handling long-running tasks and asynchronous APIs using API gateways.

Three Methods of Handling Asynchronous APIs and Long-Running Tasks with an API Gateway

There are different methods of handling asynchronous APIs and long-running tasks with an API gateway:


Webhooks work by creating a channel where an application can send a request as an HTTP POST to the URL endpoint of another application. The event can be a user sign-up, payment confirmation, or an uploaded file. The webhook makes communication between two applications simple, seamless, and fast. 

The benefits of Webhooks

  • Decreased workload: Without a webhook, you must manually extract data from one application to use it in another. Webhook automates this process, thus reducing the risk of human error.
  • Real-time update: Webhooks allow you to get real-time updates and instant notifications, especially when working with a payment system. With this feature, you can notice and mitigate risks early enough.
  • No unnecessary data: The only data that comes your way when using webhooks is data relevant to the operation you are carrying out on your application. So, there is no need to spend time sieving through tons of data to find the one you need. Whatever data you are getting is what your application requires to function at that time. 

How to implement webhooks in an API gateway 

Here are ways you can apply webhooks in an API gateway 

  1. Create an API endpoint to receive webhook events. Depending on your needs, you can use HTTP API, REST API, or WebSocket API as the endpoint. Also, ensure that this endpoint is secure to protect user data. You can use multiple API gateways to ensure security. 
  2. Configure authorized authentication with the API data integration with an external authentication provider or use the authentication mechanisms within the API itself.
  3. Configure the webhook in the API gateway to ensure the events reach the endpoint.
  4. Verify the webhook to ensure it works by triggering an event to see if it gets to the API URL as programmed. You can use a local API gateway to test the functionality of the HTTP POST.
  5. Process the webhook data to ensure it performs all the necessary actions.
  6. Check for and handle webhook errors. 


Polling is a technique used to retrieve data from an API regularly. The polling process involves sending repeated requests to an API endpoint to see if new data is available. With this technique, you can retrieve real-time data from APIs that do not have the capability for push notifications or real-time streaming. 

The benefits of polling

Here are some of the benefits of polling in API gateways:

  • Straightforward process: There are rarely any complexities involved in polling as a method of handling asynchronous APIs and long-running tasks with API gateways. That is because polling uses simple infrastructure and protocols.
  • Real-time data retrieval: With polling, users can retrieve data in real-time and stay updated with evolving information regarding the applications with the data integration API. 
  • Control over process: Polling gives developers more control over when and how data is retrieved. It allows them to optimize performance and reduce the costs for API usage because of the API gateway price. 

How to implement polling in API gateways 

  1. Determine the interval between retrieval of polling data from the API endpoint. It could be seconds or minutes.
  2. Create an API endpoint and configure it to deal with GET requests
  3. Write the code for the client side that sends the GET requests 
  4. Parse and process the data after retrieval from the API endpoint 
  5. Deal with errors to mitigate risks 

Messaging queues 

Messaging queues allow different applications to communicate quickly and effectively in real-time. A sender application sends messages, which stay queued for a while before the receiver application receives them. 

The benefits of Messaging Queues 

  • Asynchronous processing: On messaging queues, API gateways can stay processing requests while waiting for backend services to respond. 
  • Load balancing: The software gateway distributes requests across services and ensures that no one is overwhelmed with requests, thus balancing the load across all the backend services. 

How to implement messaging queues in API gateways 

  1. Choose a messaging queue system that fits into your API gateway. 
  2. Identify the API endpoints which will benefit from the use of API gateways.
  3. Define what message format will transmit information from the API gateway service to the endpoint.
  4. Execute message handlers to handle the incoming messages in the API gateway and backend services. After processing the messages, these handlers should respond to the API gateway. 
  5. Monitor the message queue often to check for performance and efficiency. Use API gateway monitoring tools to get this done. 

The Importance of Handling Asynchronous APIs and Long-Running Tasks with an API Gateway

Handling asynchronous APIs and long-running tasks with an API gateway has its benefits, and here are some of them:

  • Improved scalability: An API Gateway can improve applications’ scalability by adding more worker processes as needed. This means that applications can handle more users and a heavier load without breaking down.
  • Improved resilience: API Gateways also enhance the resilience of applications. During a network or service outage, an API Gateway can operate without interruption, ensuring applications are always available to users.
  • Improved performance: When applications handle asynchronous APIs and long-running tasks with an API Gateway, they can process large amounts of data without causing timeouts or disruption in the main execution thread. This can improve performance, especially for large data processing applications.
  • Cost efficiency:  An API Gateway can also help reduce costs since it only charges for the resources used. This is among the selling points of the Tyk Gateway. It supports applications to save money by only running the resources required for a task’s duration.

Best Practices for Handling Asynchronous APIs and Long-Running Tasks with an API Gateway

Here are some of the best practices for handling asynchronous APIs and long-running tasks with an API gateway:

  • Providing Clear Responses: When sending responses across applications to clients, ensure they are well-defined and secured. You can use microservice API gateways to keep them secure.
  • Using Idempotency Keys: Idempotency Keys guarantee that the API handles the client request only once. The client typically generates and sends them to the server with the request. The server then stores the key and uses it to look up the request’s status. If the request has been processed, the server will not process it again, improving the performance and reliability of APIs and preventing accidental errors.
  • Implementing Timeouts and Retries: Timeouts and retries stop running tasks affecting the API gateway or client-side application such that they get enough time to do what they want but not enough to ruin the user experience. 

    How to Optimize the Performance of Asynchronous APIs and Long-Running Tasks with an API Gateway

    Here are a few ways to optimize the performance of asynchronous APIs and long-running tasks with an API gateway.

    • Caching: Store API responses in a cache and provide them for subsequent requests for the same resource. You can do this even with a free API gateway.
    • Compression: Reduce the response payload size by compressing it before you send it to the client. API gateway solutions like Tyk technologies are excellent at this optimization technique.
    • Load Balancing: Distribute multiple API requests across as many backend servers as possible to ensure availability as you handle many requests. 


    Whether you use an API open-source software or work within the confines of a paid solution, knowing how to handle asynchronous APIs and long-running tasks with an API gateway is essential to improving your site’s performance. 

    Having covered some methods, including webhooks, polling, and messaging queues, and having discussed best practices for handling asynchronous APIs and long-running tasks, your work should have enough information to start. 


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