Application Programming Interfaces, commonly referred to as APIs, are the cornerstone of modern applications, enabling core features of complex software to be extended and integrated in many different ways. The cloud computing era has driven increased use of APIs, as has the adoption of Big Data.
As APIs have become pervasive, the complexity of managing APIs has grown. This has greatly boosted the market for API management tools, which offer a complex variety of features that enable organizations to develop, manage and secure APIs.
API management tools can help developers with the earliest phases of API development, the planning and design stage. Testing APIs to help make sure they work as designed – and enable backward compatibility with previously deployed APIs – is another core attribute of many API management platforms.
Finally, once an API has been developed and tested, it needs to be published and deployed, which is when API lifecycle management for ongoing operations, consumption, security and versioning comes into play.
There is no shortage of competition in the market for API management vendors either, to help organizations get a grip on their API needs.
Tips on Selecting an API Management Tool
When looking to select an API management vendor, among the key criteria that organizations should consider are the following:
- Buyers should have a clear understanding of how they plan to integrate APIs into an existing or new development workflow. Does this fit with the prospective tool you’re considering?
- Different vendors have varying degrees of integrations with developer and Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) tooling. Some vendors provide integrations with broader development tools within their own respective portfolios. Again, check your plans: does this fit with your goals?
- Vendor offerings for API management are differentiated in several ways, including the ability to help monetize APIs, as well as different types of analytics to make the most of API deployments. This monetization capability can be critical to buyers’ concerns.
In this Datamation top companies list, we spotlight the vendors that offer the top 10 API management tools.
- Mulesoft Anypoint Platform
- IBM API Management
- Google Apigee API Platform
- Microsoft Azure API Management
- Red Hat 3scale
- Dell Boomi
- Kong Enterprise
- TIBCO Mashery
- WSO2 App Cloud
- Honorable Mentions
- API Management Tools: Comparison Chart
MuleSoft Anypoint Platform/API Gateway
Value proposition for potential buyers: Mulesoft Anypoint is the standard against which all other API management vendors are often measured. It offers a robust, complete platform for API design, deployment and management, with an easy to use intuitive graphical front end to manage it all.
- MuleSoft has long been one of most recognized vendors in the space, which is one of the reasons why the company was acquired by Salesforce.com in 2018 for $6.5 billion.
- Anycast is a comprehensive API management platform integrating design capabilities along with API lifecycle management.
- The platform integrates with an organization’s existing CI/CD (Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment) framework, which is important as it makes API development part of an organization’s broader development efforts, rather than just a siloed operation.
- Mulesoft integrates a robust set of security controls, including API policies, tokenizing data, and securing at the perimiter using the edge gateway.
- Deployment is available in the cloud, on-premises or hybrid.
IBM API Management
Value proposition for potential buyers: A full development and management platform for APIs that integrates advanced insights to help organizations get the most out of their API usage, including revenue optimization. IBM’s solution is a good option for medium to large sized businesses. It helps that the IBM cloud is so fully developed.
- Based on proven technology IBM first deployed in 2012 and expanded with the acquisition of StrongLoop in 2015.
- Developer integration in IBM’s platform enables organizations to connect to back-end data sources to develop new APIs.
- IBM’s platform can support large scale deployments and is seen by many organizations as being very user-friendly.
- API insights capability helps organization to better understand how APIs are used and provides the ability for organization to monetize APIs.
- Available for deployment in both on-premises and as cloud SaaS models.
Google Apigee API Platform
Value proposition for potential buyers: Widely considered a top vendor, Apigee is a great choice for small and medium-sized businesses looking for powerful analytics and API monetization tools.
- Google acquired Apigee in 2016 in a deal valued at $625 million and has steadily integrated the API management platform into its broader Google Cloud platform efforts.
- Design capabilities enable developers to build APIs, using a visual interface that is seen by many as being easier to use than other similar tools.
- API security capabilities include data protection, threat detection, access control and identity management.
- Integrated analytics enables organization to manage APIs, understanding usage metrics as well as providing tools to help drive API monetization.
- Apigee also provides some fairly unique microservice management capabilities that integrate with the Istio service mesh, which is an emerging approach for connecting containers and microservices.
- In April 2019, Google extended the platform with a new Apigee hybrid offering that enables the API management platform to run on-premises or in any public cloud.
Microsoft Azure API Management
Value proposition for potential buyers: A user-friendly option for enterprises of any size that enables organizations to manage APIs with a self-service approach.
- Core technology behind Azure API Management comes from Apiphany, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2013.
- API management is tightly integrated with broader Azure cloud offerings, making it an easy choice for organizations that have already invested in Microsoft’s cloud technology.
- Includes a self-service developer portal that aims to get developers up and running quickly, with code-samples to help users get started.
- Lifecycle management for APIs, includes version control and consumption tracking.
- Azure API Management is a cloud-only offering.
Red Hat 3Scale
Value proposition for potential buyers: 3scale includes a wide range of API tools that integrate into Red Hat’s broader developer toolset, making this offering a good choice for startups, small, medium, or large businesses.
- Red Hat acquired 3Scale in 2016 and has expanded the platform, bundling it as part of the company’s larger integration suite that also includes Red Hat Fuse and Red Hat AMQ.
- 3scale is now connected into the wider world of containers and Kubernetes, via Red Hat’s OpenShift platform, enabling API management and usage inside of container, cloud-native workloads.
- API traffic control for management of traffic and security access polity enforcement to API resources.
- Monetization option as well as full analytics for API program management are a core element of the platform.
- Users can deploy 3scale components on-premises or in the cloud.
Value proposition for potential buyers: Dell Boomi’s API management platform is a well regarded tool that can help organizations to build integrations rapidly, with a particularly strong capability for integrating cloud applications.
- API Management is part of Dell Boomi’s larger Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering, enabling application and data integration capabilities.
- The Mediate component of the platform provides API design and management features, with features that enable organizations to build and deploy APIs with a well thought out workflow.
- Going beyond what some other API tools provide, the Flow component extends the platform with automated workflows to help make use of the APIs and the data and services they expose.
- The Master data hub feature is another capability that is different than most other API tools, providing a way for organizations to have a central location for data, that can be enriched and synchronized.
- Dell Boomi is available for hybrid, public and private cloud deployments.
Value proposition for potential buyers: Kong is well suited for developer driven organizations of any size looking for an easy, open source-based entry into the world of API management.
- Kong was originally known as Mashape, and rebranded in October 2017, reflecting the name of the company’s primary technology.
- The core Kong technology is open source and freely available, providing a basic set of API gateway capabilities. Kong Enterprise builds on top of the open source base, with commercially supported capabilities that organizations typically need for enterprise grade deployment including visualization and automation features.
- Kong Enterprise recently added a built-in developer portal as an integrated part of the platform, providing an API catalog that makes it easier for developers to find and consume APIs.
- One of the compelling features that Kong provides is extensibility via plugins (for both the open-source and Kong Enterprise platforms) that enable organizations to extend the built-in features of the platform.
Value proposition for potential buyers: Tibco is well positioned for medium and large-sized organizations, providing a platform that can be used to build and optimize API as part of a full lifecycle API management effort.
- Tibco acquired Mashery in August 2015 from Intel, and has continued to develop the platform in the years since.
- API creation is a particular strength of the platform, enabling developers to build new APIs from different sources, including both REST and non-REST protocols.
- The monetization aspect of the platform is an another solid area, with tools to help productize APIs so they can easily be consumed by other developers and partners.
- Integrated analytics in Tibco Mashery can be configured to identify key performance indicators to help organization hit operational targets.
- Deployment options including any public or private cloud, as well as any on-premised container infrastructure.
Value proposition for potential buyers: Postman is a good choice for organization’s that are primarily concerned with API development as the core focus.
- Postman positions itself as an API Development Environment (ADE) as its primary mission, with integrated tools to help developers build, test and deploy APIs.
- The idea of a “collection” is a unique aspect in Postman, providing a well-defined grouping of features, that an executable API can perform. Collections enable easier collaboration with other developers as well improved monitoring capabilities.
- Collaboration is key attribute of Postman, with workspaces that can be used to improve workflow.
- API monitoring in Postman is considered an add-on capability beyond a certain threshold of API call activity.
- Postman is deployed as a Software-as-a-Service model in three tiers: Postman, Postman Pro and Postman Enterprise.
WSO2 API Manager
Value proposition for potential buyers: For technically savvy organizations that are looking for a fully open source platform for API management, they might need to look no further than WSO2, which provides full full API lifecycle management and extensive customizability.
- API Manager benefits from being part of a larger integration platform offering from WSO2 that includes identity management, which is an often overlooked aspect of API and application security.
- Analytics capabilities help with usage metrics as well as monetization efforts for API consumption.
- For microservices and container-based deployment there is the WSO2 API Microgateway, which provides a way to deploy API management and policy in a decentralized approach.
- API Manager is available as an on-premises solutions, while API cloud is a public hosted version.
Akana, which was acquired by RogueWave in 2016, provides a full set of API lifecycle management tools that are suited for medium to large-size enterprises.
CA API Management/Automate API Management
CA is ranked as a leader in Gartner’s magic quadrant for full cycle API management, with its mature platform that recently added microgateway capabilities.
Software AG webMethods
Software AG has also ranked as a leader in the magic quadrant, on the strength of its a well-integrated application infrastructure platform.
Cloud Elements is noteworthy for its API consumption capabilities that help with management of API delivery.
Oracle SOA/API Manager
Oracle API Manager benefits from Oracle’s 2017 acquisition of API startup Apiary, and has a robust set of capabilities to help developers create, publish and manage APIs.
API Management Tool: Comparison Chart
|MuleSoft Anypoint Platform/API Gateway||Connecting applications
Managing and building APIs
|Three tiers of licensing including Gold, Platinum and Titanium
Full pricing on request from the vendor
|IBM API Management||Large scale
|Enterprise: $100/ 100K API calls.
Enterprise 25 M: $40/100K API calls thereafter
|Google Apigee API Platform||Monetization tools
|$500/month for teams
$2,500/month for businesses
|Microsoft Azure API Management||User-friendly platform for management all APIs in one place
Self-service API management
|Enterprise $100 per 100K API calls, $40 per 100K calls thereafter (and additional pricing plans)|
|Red Hat / 3scale||Integration with Red Hat’s developer and cloud-native tools||$750/month for pro; enterprises need to contact company|
|Dell Boomi||Integrating cloud applications||Simple monthly plan starts at $549/month|
|Kong||Open source API gateway
Monetization and discoverability capabilities
|Open source edition is freely available.
Enterprise pricing is available on request from the vendor
|TIBCO Mashery||API creation from both REST and SOAP protocols||Starts at $500 per month|
|Postman||Developer focused, with API Developer Environment (ADE)||Pricing: Pro is $8 per month, enterprise is $18 per month|
|WSO2 App Manager||Open source base
|Subscription pricing with variable support options|