Serverless Microservice: Understanding Products

Reference: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

In the previous post we talked about the building the API using Azure API Management. This is a very important part of a modern API, especially one that will be consumable for users not within an organization or for sharing the API. With the sheer number of features and abilities of the API Management service, I felt it necessary to dive in a bit deeper and talk about a core concept of the APIM layer: the Product.

Product, its not quite what you think

To be fair, I think this is a terrible name choice. The Product is effectively the “thing” you will select to gain access. Most developer sites I have seen would simply do this as you register a particular product and then give the option to select a tier of access; that is effectively what a Product is: a tier of access for a given set of APIs.

Just to clarify that last point, a Product can span multiple APIs that are being managed by the layer. To access your Products you need to select the appropriate option in your APIM options:microservice16

By default a new APIM instance is given two products: Starter and Unlimited. These products are designed to give you a sense of how these things work; though I have found that Starter doesnt actually work the way Microsoft’s docs suggest. But let’s get a sense as to what these allow.

Register for a token

So, if we access the Unlimited we can note two checkboxes:

  • Require Subscription – means in order to access APIs using this Product you will need to be subscribed
  • Requires Approval – means that subscription requests need to be approved by an administrator

For our purposes in this posting, you will want to make sure the Require Subscription is checked. Once you save this change, if you have been following along you wont be able to access your API.

I should point out that, if your API is accessible by a Product which does NOT require a subscription, it will still allow the anonymous access. So, in order to see the security in action, you will need to make Starter require a subscription or remove your API from Starter.

Assuming the Require Subscription checkbox is checked, attempting to access the API calls now, you will get a message indicating you need a subscription key. To do that, we need to go to the Developer Portal.

First, a gripe. There is a navi  link in this site that shows APPLICATIONS. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other popular APIs this is purely just a gallery, it has little purpose outside providing links to other applications using the API. Its a weird feature with a bad name.

What you will want to do is select PRODUCTS which will list out the Products you APIM layer supports. Let’s click on Unlimited – Products that do not require a subscription are not visible in this list.

Once you hit a Subscribe you will enter the flow to either login or create a user. Once you complete this process you will receive a set of keys. Use one of these values as your Ocp-Apim-Subscription-Key header. This will allow your request to go through.

Other Features

The APIM service is an extremely deep service with a wide variety of features, I could not hope to dive into all of them but, I felt that Products was especially underserved. So I hope this post makes sense. Future posts will assume you have this setup appropriately.

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