Discover the advantages API management platforms offer organizations
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
API management is a constantly growing market with more new products popping up every year. As a result, narrowing all of the potential choices down to one perfect platform can feel like an overwhelming task. The sheer number of options out there makes choosing one an extremely tough decision.
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To help relieve the strain involved with this decision, we've put together this detailed product roundup covering 10 of the leading API management tools currently available on the market. These overviews, appearing in alphabetical order, will provide you with key information you need when deciding which of these platforms is right for your organization. They'll also provide you with a solid understanding of the state of today's API management marketplace.
3scale API Management
Cost: Starting at $50 per month
3scale is an incredibly flexible API management platform from Red Hat Inc. Unlike many of the API management tools on this list, 3scale has a very self-serving product offering, which has resulted in a very affordable and flexible platform. The low barrier-to-entry of the 3scale platform allows organizations to slowly scale up their API(s) both architecturally and financially, rather than having to make a high-cost commitment on a brand new service. Although 3scale does offer both on-site and cloud-based delivery methods for the API management platform, its particular brand of delivery is unique in that the on-premises gateway is built around the NGINX server. This gives organizations the flexibility to use whatever infrastructure best suits their needs. Additionally, 3scale integrates directly with popular cloud providers Heroku, Amazon Web Services and Red Hat OpenShift for more rapid deployments.
While 3scale has incredibly flexible delivery methods, the feature that stands out the most is the end-user experience. 3scale operates under the philosophy that API success is dependent on creating an awesome developer experience. This attitude has led to the creation of engaging developer portals and live Swagger-based documentation for a dynamic, usable developer experience.
Starting at $50 per month, 3scale's base package is incredibly financially approachable. This base package includes the most desirable features in an API management platform, including rate limiting, analytics, a developer portal and key management. The next package up from there, starting at $150 per month, adds API monetization and multiple apps per account to the list of features. The final tier, priced at $750 per month, is aimed at larger organizations with multiple APIs, users and administrators. 3scale does offer enterprise-level features and pricing as well, but those interested should contact the company for pricing information.
Cost: Starting at $4,000 per month
Akana Platform from Rogue Wave Software is an enterprise-level API management system aimed at larger organizations with highly defined product lifecycle workflows. Touting customers like American Express, Verizon and eBay, Akana Platform comes equipped with a developer portal and tools for design, security, traffic management, mediation, integration, analytics and monetization. Akana stands out, however, in its collection of lifecycle management tools. It provides a version control system that allows for approval-based changes, and integrates directly with popular DevOps platforms like Jenkins, JIRA and GitHub to keep everyone in the loop.
It's also worth noting that Akana Platform is a gold-certified Microsoft partner, meaning the company offers a genuine, Microsoft-approved system for enterprises developing products on the Microsoft technology stack. All of Akana Platform's tools integrate directly with Microsoft's cloud platforms, which includes built-in support for Microsoft Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server within its Lifecycle Management toolset. There's even native Windows Server and Azure cloud support. In addition to version control and DevOps integrations, the platform also provides a low-level relationship visualizer, allowing stakeholders to visualize how all the pieces of an API relate to each other, providing full visibility into how every change affects the architecture of the entire system.
Cost: Starting at $300 per month
Apigee is a transparency-driven API management tool from Apigee Corp. that is aimed at small to medium-sized businesses, but with substantial enterprise-level options as well. The Apigee platform has some strong analytics tools, allowing organizations to track API performance, latency, error rates, traffic and usage, and even provides a real-time debugger for tracing issues down to the source.
While Apigee has some great analytics tools, what really sets it apart are its monetization tools. With Apigee, organizations can monetize their APIs in a multitude of unique ways, from offering free trials based on time or API call volume to charging users based on usage or a flat fee over time. However, Apigee has added a truly unique twist to this feature: revenue-sharing capabilities that allow organizations to share revenue with their own API consumers. This gives organizations the ability to not only charge a percentage of revenue generated by API consumers, but also gives that same organization the ability to share a percentage of revenue with API consumers. This can potentially open the door for powerful affiliate programs and partnerships.
Cost: Starting at $50 per month
Microsoft is a relative newcomer to the field of API management, especially when compared with a few of the other API management tools in this roundup. The Azure API management platform is a cloud-based gateway targeted toward organizations of all sizes, starting at just $50 per month and scaling up as needed. While the Azure API management platform will work with any host via a direct or virtual private network connection, the big advantage to using the platform is its direct integration with the rest of the Azure ecosystem.
With direct support for services like the Azure Active Directory and the ability to work seamlessly with Azure virtual networks and ExpressRoute, the Azure API management platform is the perfect choice for organizations that are already consuming the Azure ecosystem. Beyond the obvious integrations within its own architecture, getting started with the Azure API management platform is as easy as importing an existing Swagger specification. This gives organizations the flexibility to move to Azure from any other platform with very little overhead.
CA API Management
Cost: Not provided
CA Technologies' API management platform is geared heavily toward enterprise organizations, resulting in a very sales- and consulting-driven organization. As a result of this enterprise-leaning sales funnel, pricing for the CA API Management platform is not readily available.
While the CA API Management platform shares many of the same features as other offerings, such as a developer portal, endpoint management and analytics, the thing that makes it stand apart is its emphasis on mobile API management. The feature that highlights this support is the CA Mobile API Gateway. This is an API gateway that provides mobile-friendly API design and is specifically tailored to handle things like security, identity, adaption, optimization and integration. By providing software development kits (SDKs) and granular security policies, the CA Mobile API Gateway can drastically speed up application development and deployment, while also ensuring a safe and secure API environment.
It is important to note that these features focus specifically on mobile-first use cases through increased caching, mobile-specific SDKs and standards-based architecture and authentication methods, making the CA Mobile API Gateway stand out from standard API gateways.
Cost: Starting at $1,000 per month
Cloud Elements Inc. offers users a different sort of API management platform in that its APIs are built around the concept of connecting disparate data sources and services through entities called hubs and elements. What makes this concept unique is that its namesake Cloud Elements platform integrates with a multitude of third-party APIs and services (the aforementioned elements), allowing organizations to build out complex REST APIs with minimal engineering overhead. A great analogy of this hub-and-element model (albeit a simplistic one) is that Cloud Elements is like the IFTTT of APIs.
Cloud Elements executes this integration strategy by providing data transformation tools and workflow orchestration, providing total control over how your organization's internal and external services interact with each other within your API. By providing a centralized management system, Cloud Elements enables organizations to track the usage, response time and even logs across all of these platforms. This allows development teams to spend less time dealing with the nuances of third-party API integrations and more time building and managing a reliable product. With very little effort, an existing API can be integrated directly with Salesforce, SendGrid, Slack and even JIRA, making it possible for organizations to use the tools they are already familiar with to manage the health of their API.
Cost: Starting at $0 per month
License: Apache 2.0
Mashape Inc., like Cloud Elements, handles API management much differently than the other leading platforms. Its core offering, Kong, is an open source API gateway that can run in front of any RESTful API. This is similar to the cloud-based delivery methods of most commercial API management tools -- the main difference being that the proxy is managed internally rather than externally. Kong has a highly extensible plug-in architecture, which enables total control over the features and services provided by your API. At a high level, the officially supported plug-ins handle things like authentication, security, traffic control, analytics and even data transformations and logging. This plug-in-oriented feature set makes it possible to support only the features that are important to your project, without having to worry about additional features and services going unused.
Though not open sourced like Kong, Mashape also offers a powerful commercial API analytics platform called Galileo and a commercial developer portal platform called Gelato. These two services can move an existing API from the private to the public space by adding tools that are important to product stakeholders and API consumers. Galileo accomplishes this with analytics tools that provide real-time logging of API calls, request replaying, usage statistics and even error alerting. These are desirable features for product managers and development teams alike, as they give total insight into what is and isn't working within an API. Gelato, on the other hand, provides a drop-in public face to an API. With Swagger and API Blueprint support, developer registration management, a live API explorer, and even markdown management of API documentation, Gelato is an excellent developer portal product.
Cost: Not provided
Mashery from TIBCO Software Inc. is an API management platform designed and built with ease-of-use in mind. While not as enterprise-leaning as other platforms, Mashery is still a good fit for small to medium-sized businesses that are beyond the early startup stage. This is evidenced through TIBCO Software's direct sales-driven funnel approach, which is a change from the more organic, self-serve onboarding process found amongst other platform providers. Despite the larger business-size market, TIBCO has built out an impressive support system for its customers, including everything from white papers to webinars and events, as well as strategy and technical support services.
What makes Mashery so unique is its API Microflow designer, which is, by far, the platform's standout feature. At a high level, the Microflow designer is a browser-based tool that can be used to describe the operational behavior of an API. Individual Microflows can be used to manage data transformations, request routing, query throttling and even implement caching. These policies can be inserted directly in the path of the request or response workflow, allowing users to transform individual endpoint responses, throttle requests for abused operations and cache infrequently updated responses.
Cost: Not Provided
MuleSoft is an enterprise-level service that goes beyond providing just an API management tool. The crux of MuleSoft's service is its Anypoint Platform, a service that acts as the glue between disparate services and APIs. While MuleSoft Inc.'s API management tool is part of the Anypoint Platform, the platform itself is a collection of tools and services that allow organizations to compose their API architecture and integrate it with a multitude of third-party APIs and services. It also provides a marketplace for easily finding and integrating custom elements (such as connectors, templates and APIs).
MuleSoft is an excellent platform for organizations that need to quickly and easily integrate with multiple third-party services. But what sets MuleSoft apart is the large number of other add-ons available in the Anypoint Exchange marketplace. This marketplace not only provides third-party API integrations, but also connectors, templates and examples. This means users can easily add Salesforce and Slack through the third-party API integrations, as well as implement real-time synchronization of users and Salesforce customers through the "Salesforce to Database User Broadcast" template.
Cost: Starting at $0 per month
License: Apache 2.0
WSO2 is, by far, the most popular and feature-complete open source API management platform on the market today. It provides everything from design and prototyping tools to developer tools and traffic management. While WSO2 is loaded with the same features found in the other leading API management tools, what really makes it special is the customizability of the platform. WSO2 is highly configurable, allowing organizations to modify the look, feel and usage of the platform through styling, theming and code extensions. These extensions can be developed internally or found as additional open source projects that are built and managed by other WSO2 consumers.
Because WSO2 is open sourced, it's worth bringing attention to the increased security and quality that often comes with open source software. Popular open source projects often have hundreds to thousands of developer eyes on them, allowing for issues to be caught and fixed much earlier than many other competitors. This security benefit is known as "Linus' Law," named for the creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds. Linus' Law states that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow."
While the products listed above are well-known and well-supported, they are just a few of many. As such, it's crucial to do your own research and collaborate with your team to find the software that works best for the needs of you and your team. If one of the products above does not quite fit the bill, then use the closest one as a starting point in your search for the perfect API management platform.
In the end, the most important thing to remember when evaluating any new DevOps platform is that getting the buy-in from your entire team determines success far more than how many bells and whistles any one platform has.
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