a whorl of app icons

Most of us have found ourselves on the couch channel surfing at some point, trying to decide what to watch. The challenge is that we want to spend our time efficiently, watching the most entertaining show available. However, with the number of channels, wide range of shows, staggered starting times, and various run times, this can be quite a challenge. You might even say that optimally watching TV is impractical due to all of the variables and options. That is, without the aid of a good management tool. 

Similarly, the number of apps and data feeds that your organization may integrate, including those by developers, makes it more than impractical to leverage the benefits of cloud computing without a good API management tool. In fact, API management should be an element of any digital transformation roadmap and remain a vital part of your cloud management. However, all API management tools are not created equal. Therefore, before settling on an API management solution, you need to consider if it is not only the right answer for today, but also that it will continue to be so as your cloud presence evolves and expands. In this article, we compare the capabilities of a few common tools and provide some guidance for making the best choice for you.  

Why You Need an API Management Tool

Choosing to take advantage of the opportunities that cloud computing offers to your enterprise is not a static undertaking. Instead, your digital transformation will continually matter for your business’ success, as it may involve a change in your operations, culture, and customer engagement. Central to this transformation is how you manage applications, internal and external ones alike. 

Although most applications are designed to integrate well with a number of cloud computing platforms, the responsibility of protecting your resources while providing needed access and the best UX for your customers, including app developers, rests with you. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to monitor and control activity within your networks and that interacts with your systems. This requires that you employ API best practices, which is most effectively done by utilizing an API management tool. 

Comparing API Management Tools

Though not as numerous as apps, there is no shortage of API management tools out there. Most of these contain essentials like a gateway, policy editor, catalog, client registry, and developer portal. However, functionality and feature strengths and weaknesses are not uniform, as illustrated by the list of common API solution tools compared below. 

API MANAGEMENT TOOL COMPARISON*

Tool          Major Strengths Major Weaknesses

3scale

  • API developer portal
  • Traffic flow control
  • Flexibility
  • Availability
  • NO**

Akana

  • API lifetime management (Automatic version control)
  • Graphical development
  • Intelligent analysis
  • Only two payment plan options

Amazon API Gateway

  • Multiple cloud management tool integration
  • RESTful and WebSocket API creation
  • Cloud specific

Apigee

  • Monetization tools
  • Flexible payment options 
  • Streamlined development
  • Is used by Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
  • API tracking limitations

Azure API Management

  • Multiple payment plan options
  • Self-service key management
  • Auto-generated catalog 
  • No on-premises option
  • Cloud specific

CA API Management

  • Agile development
  • DevOps and Project Portfolio Management (PPM)
  • Streamlined development
  • NO**

Dell Boomi

  • Multiple price plans
  • Flexible cloud integration options
  • Data hub
  • Learning curve may be involved  

Kong

  • Open-source
  • Horizontal scalable
  • Flexible operation
  • Interface difficult to navigate

Istio

  • Simplified traffic flow control
  • Utilizes Envoy proxy service
  • Multi-level security structure; including Zero-trust security building on distrusted networks
  • Complexity of implementation

Mashery

  • API lifetime management (Automatic version control)
  • RESTful and SOAP protocols can be used
  • API Fortress integration
  • On-premise secrets management
  • Limited payment plan flexibility

Mulesoft Anypoint Platform

  • Centralized visibility and control
  • Pre-built templates minimize coding
  • Mulesoft was one of the first major players in this field
  • Limited payment plan flexibility

* Strength and weakness information is subjective and subject to changes in accuracy. New Context takes no responsibility for any decisions and/or actions taken based on this information. 

** NO denotes no opinion due to lack of reliable information.

As shown above, different tools excel in different areas. This is why it is important for you to utilize guidelines by which to judge whether a particular solution meets your needs.  

How to Choose the Best Tool for You?

Prior to selecting an API management solution, consider the following guidelines:

  • Meets your service type requirement. You need to ensure that the tool can be utilized as a proxy, agent, or hybrid service.
  • Provides backwards compatibility. Backwards compatibility is critical as version changes are never uniformly employed. 
  • Is scalable. Your solution must be scalable to keep pace with the needs of your SMB or enterprise. The best solution should be flexible enough to adjust for temporary slowdowns, as well. 
  • Includes lifetime support for APIs. API monitoring and analysis should exist for the whole of their operational lifetime. 
  • Includes robust security. Strong security protocols; including secrets management and the institution of DevSecOps essentials provide for the most secure API development and resource protection. 
  • Includes substantial developer support. Developer support is important. Forums, FAQs, and quick responses to queries promote development and improve the UX.  
  • Is user-friendly. User-friendliness should always be a criterion for any software package; however, it must be balanced against available features and capabilities. 
  • Has flexible payment plans. Many tools have fixed and variable price plans. Additionally, free trials are often available, which can be used to evaluate tool usability and features. 

The guidelines above will aid in the choice of an API management tool that best fits your business and requirements. However, these should not be viewed as all-encompassing and should be augmented as necessary for specific situations and future plans. API management is a critical aspect of success for cloud computing, and partnering with an experienced digital transformation consultant will help ensure that you are employing the most dynamic and effective tools possible. 

New Context has extensive experience in helping companies realize the best solutions for their cloud computing needs. When partnering with us, you will receive a solution that prioritizes security and institutes DevSecOps solutions that integrate advanced development technology, including API management tools that meet your specific needs. If you want more information on how to realize the best API management solution for your business, contact us online, by email at info@newcontext.com, or call 1.888.773.8360.

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