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API Management Platforms Review: the Art of Making APIs Simple

As application programming interface is becoming more and more widely used, a growing need for tools to assist in the process of publishing, promoting and overseeing the APIs appears. Responding to such a demand, a whole plethora of various API management platforms have recently come into being. The goal of these systems is to allow an organization that publishes an API to monitor the interface’s lifecycle and make sure the needs of developers and applications using the API are being met.

In the best-case scenario, an API management service should include most of the following features:

  • Documentation. It is preferable, that before committing to using a particular tool, developers can easily figure out how its API works. A well-made documentation is exactly the place that should store this information. In some cases it is even possible to provide interactive documentation.
  • Analytics and Statistics help to understand how people use your API and get valuable insights for your business.
  • Deployment should be flexible and support public or private clouds, on-premise implementations, or combinations.
  • Developer portal facilitates the engagement with API consumers, developers or partners.
  • Sandboxing. This feature allows to test the code, thus increasing the value and adoption rate of an API
  • Security. As with most of the tools, security is crucial in API management as well. Because APIs carry sensitive data, it is important to protect the exposed information.
  • Monetization opportunities give you a chance to monetize your API.
  • Availability and Scalability. The service has to be capable of dealing with possible of errors, problems or temporary traffic spikes.

API Management Tools Comparison

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Platform Type Market Segment API Analytics API Traffic Control Monetization Tools Developers Portal Secure Access Versioning
3scale Agent, Proxy Startups to Enterprises Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Apigee Proxy SMBs to Enterprises Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
IBM API Management Agent, Proxy Enterprises Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Mashape Proxy Startups to Enterprises Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Galileo Agent, Proxy Startups to Enterprises Yes Yes No No Yes No
Gelato Proxy Startups to Enterprises No No No Yes No No
Kong Proxy Startups to Enterprises Yes Yes No No Yes No
MuleSoft Proxy Enterprises Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Tyk Agent, Proxy SMBs to Enterprises Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes

3scale

3Scale is a popular hybrid solution created to helps a wide range of customers, ranging from startups to enterprises, to deploy, manage, distribute and monitor their APIs. The solution offers both an on premises API management solution and a cloud based API administration, analytics, reports, developer and partner portals.

This platform can boast about a wide range of features, including API access control and security; policy management (setting tiers, rating limits, automatic provisioning, pricing rules, etc); API traffic analytics; Billing and Payments management, etc.

Apigee

Apigee is a tool that provides an absolute control over API infrastructure. It encompasses such useful functions as API usage statistics and user console, which allows to add users, configure limits per groups, get API keys, etc. Moreover, an API gateway enables APIs transformation, to support multiple authentication mechanisms. Versioning, caching, global distribution and performances improvement are a few of the other features this platform has to offer.

It is worth noting, that Apigee is suitable for businesses of all sizes - from large to small.

IBM API Management

Originally entering the API management market with its Cast Iron API Cloud, now IBM API Management solution provides a convenient portal for app developers to view published APIs.

The service is large scale and thus offers a slightly different set of functions that some of the other platforms. For example, an administration portal allows to establish a number of different policies, such as self-registration, quotas, key management and security regulations. An advanced analytics engine presents role-based analytics for API owners and developers.

Another noteworthy benefit is that Swagger and WSDL documents can be loaded and parsed into APIs. Finally, APIs can be decorated with additional data in the form of tags, binary documentation and documentation URLs.

Mashape

The Mashape platform offers a variety of open-source tools and cloud services to manage, monitor and scale Application Programming Interface. The most prominent tools currently developed by Mashape are:

  • Kong is an API gateway, powered by NGINX and Cassandra. The tool focused on scalability, high performance and reliability. It allows developers to manage authentication, data encryption, logging, rate limiting and offers a number of other standard features. One of the core benefits of Kong is that it can run on virtually any platform, both in the cloud or on-premise.
  • Galileo is the API analytics platform designed to monitor, visualize and inspect API and Microservice Traffic. The core features of the tool include real time logging, request replay, diff comparisons, etc.
  • Gelato - a service for building simple developer portals, facilitates developer on-boarding, as well as integration with Kong and Galileo. The platform makes it easy to provide key provisioning and user management. Some of the other features worth mentioning are: code sample generation, import swagger or API-blueprint, markdown editor

MuleSoft

MuleSoft is an API Gateway service, aimed at enterprise size companies. It helps to manage users, traffic and SLAs as well as secure the APIs. MuleSoft is capable of connecting applications, data sources and APIs, in the cloud or on-premises.

Built on top of the CloudHub iPaaS, this is software is great for designing, building, publishing, securing, managing and monetizing internal services and external APIs, as well as engaging the developer community around them.

Tyk

Tyk is another open source, lightweight API gateway. Thanks to its scalability and high performance, it can satisfy the needs of both small and large companies. Tyk supports access tokens, HMAC request signing, basic authentication and OAuth 2.0 to ensure secure and straightforward service integration.

The platform is packed with features helping to manage how the users can access your API. Some of them are: set rate limiting, request throttling, and auto-renewing request quotas.

While all of the compared tools have a lot in common, there are still some important distinctions to be made. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the decision carefully and take into account the individual requirements of the company.

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