Editor’s note: Today we hear from Felix Perdana, engineering manager at Traveloka, on how the company uses the Apigee API management platform to become a one-stop travel and lifestyle platform in Southeast Asia and beyond. Traveloka uses APIs to grow and consolidate its inventories while bringing customers and partners together to book flights, vehicles, hotels, and vacation packages.
Traveloka is an Indonesian tech company currently focusing on the travel and lifestyle markets. Our customers, the majority of which come from Southeast Asia, visit the site mainly to book flights, hotels, transportation, lifestyle experiences (e.g. theme parks, movie tickets, beauty and spa treatments, and restaurant vouchers), and much more. We aim to serve more customers across the globe as part of our giant expansion plans.
In past blog posts, my colleagues have written about how Traveloka is using Google Cloud for data provisioning and stream analytics. Today, I’m sharing how we use Apigee API Management Platform from Google Cloud, a key part of my role as an engineering manager in charge of the after-sales and affiliation domain.
Extending the global footprint with Apigee
Expanding to markets globally means dealing with a lot of unique and challenging factors in each country. Thinking about different government regulations, currencies, payment systems, and customer service expectations is only the beginning. There’s a lot of potential obstacles given how differently each country’s marketplace operates, which is why we use APIs and a partner integration approach to better distribute our inventory, thus helping us to scale our business quickly in a competitive space.
When we started Traveloka, we were serious about building a product that would be better than our competitors. Better in terms of inventories, services, and also pricing. We also knew that we wanted to have the best strategies for increasing our exposure within and outside of Southeast Asia. With all the right features needed (security, high performance, monitoring, and low development and maintenance costs), Apigee helps us execute on our business plan, by making it quick and easy to work with the partners that make the Traveloka platform a success.
Deciding between make versus buy for an API gateway
When we started, we built our own API gateway with our first version of API specifications. Before that, we looked into several API gateway products (including Apigee), did some research, some POCs, and had several meetings with vendors. However, since we were just starting to dip our toes into the API business and didn’t have enough use cases to justify the purchase, we decided to build our own system with the bare minimum requirements.
After a while, other Traveloka products that also wanted to have their API exposed rebuilt the same thing. Problems arose when partners who had connected with our flights API wanted to add another service, like accommodation. They felt like they were working with a different company. Different standards, different security practices, different formats—it wasn’t an optimal way to work.
About a year and a half after the release, we started to understand the scale, needs, and the limitations of our own platform. We were convinced that a better solution was needed to support our business growth. We then met with Apigee team again, at the Google Cloud Summit 2018 in Jakarta.
Aside from standardizing our APIs, Apigee supports benchmarking, a fantastic developer portal, a sandbox environment, and great monitoring and analytics. Apigee gives us remarkable speed and agility. It enables us to scale quickly, which is vital to executing our business plan to offer more services in more regions.
I also like the rate-limiting feature that lets us limit the throughput rate from one API to another. The fact that we can do this not only per URL, but also per partner, gives us a lot of flexibility. For example, if partner A has a throughput of 100 calls per second, but partner B needs 500, we can easily meet those differing needs and manage our traffic efficiently. When we evaluated API gateways, Apigee was the only one that enabled us to limit to that level of granularity.
Our APIs are meant for B2B, not for the public. Because of the requirements, we need a high level of security. Apigee helps us in managing the security with its SSL handshake features as well as the authentication and authorization methods.
Executing an aggressive growth plan with Apigee
Before we had Apigee, sharing APIs with partners was a laborious process. We exposed approximately 20 APIs through a shared document that listed our APIs with the types of the requests and responses they need to handle. Partners could see what was available and how they could integrate into our staging. More work was required before they could come in and try APIs in our sandbox. It used to take up to three months to deploy a new API for a partner. Now that we have the Apigee developer portal, it just takes a few days.
The developer portal enables our partners to view all of our APIs and try them out in the sandbox. The simplicity in creating and managing proxies is also a huge time saver. Right now, we have two B2B partners onboarded to the developer platform, and a few more still working manually through our old, in-house platform. We expect to transition them over and add 20 new partners to the Apigee platform this year. Because it now takes us as little as two weeks to onboard a new partner from first establishment to go live, we’re ramping up quickly. We estimate that we saved at least a year of development time by deploying the Apigee platform as opposed to building one in-house.
Rapid learning, rapid onboarding
Our developers are very happy with Apigee and feel the portal makes Traveloka look more professional. Equally important, the Apigee learning curve for developers and partners has been short. In just one week our partners know how to use all our APIs. If you compare that to the previous process of referring to a Google Doc and building their own servers to connect to our staging, it’s incredibly easy.
We look forward to exploring other ways that the Apigee platform can help Traveloka; we see strong potential to use even more features to help Traveloka grow and stay competitive.