When selecting the right API Management tooling to support your digital initiatives, platforms, and transformation, it’s critical to factor in some key criteria that will correlate to your success.
In this article, we’ll share a few observations to consider that go along with a vendor list.
Where to start and what to consider?
The first area to consider is what’s changed over the last year or two since you evaluated the market? What big shifts have occurred that can provide you greater coverage than you have today or more automation, or broader reach across the enterprise?
If you’re new to the market, the items below are equally important in guiding your decision of the vendor and platform, so read on!
Shift 1: Cloud vs. On-prem
The first big shift to note is where do your applications and systems live?
Even more critical is making sure the API Management platform can provide the same level of rich security, ability to address complex workflows, and of course capture all API traffic across deployment environments.
Shift 2: Consolidate or complement?
Beyond deciding where your API Management offering comes from, it’s equally important to assess what you gain from adding something new to the mix.
In this shift, it’s time to map your decision to your path forward and make sure the investment supports business goals and isn’t simply a technical preference.
The questions below (if asked and answered honestly) will guide and help you narrow down your choices for the best API Management platform for your enterprise.
- Are you starting fresh or seeking to Rip and Replace a failing offering?
- Is your plan to plug some gaps in an existing platform by complementing it with a new offering that extends and enhances the value of your current investment?
- How much heavy lifting are you planning to do when introducing some additional functionality that addresses current issues?
- Will you simply implement and adopt the new platform as is or will you customize the new offering to adapt to legacy investments, and how easy will that be?
The bottom line considers the items that are both a critical path but also support quick wins and provide sustainability. This is a strategic decision that will impact your team and business outcomes for 2021 and beyond.
Shift 3: Feature/function vs. transformation
Having settled on a few important criteria that align with your enterprise goals, the last factor to consider is how your next API Management investment will unlock your business potential.
In other words, who will drive consumption and adoption of your APIs as you scale? Technical audiences, business users, or both?
Some platforms may be strong for developers offering the features and functions focused on rich design or continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) automation.
Other offerings may be known as Enterprise Serial Bus (ESB) platforms with API facades that function to address business needs but are slow to launch (years) and expensive to learn.
In the case of transforming, consider where your business is heading. With the increased collaboration and alignment of IT and business, you’ll need to assess if your API Management platform allows for developers to build and scale while enabling digital product managers to innovate and launch new offerings quickly.
This transformation aspect of your decision means you need to determine if you are enabling the discovery, management, and control of integrations and APIs, plus other integration patterns like secure/managed file transfer or EDI/B2B across the enterprise in a multi-vendor way eliminating the walled garden approach of prior investments.
Achieving this comprehensive view and control of enterprise assets gets you primed to execute faster with greater impact and separate your company from others aiming to disrupt.
So, while evaluating your options in 2021, the key shifts mentioned should factor into your evaluation of these leading API Management platforms:
The best API Management vendors
1. Apigee API Management
Apigee API Management is cloud-native but works on-premise. It supports enterprise-grade application flows, has Google Analytics features, and leans heavily on Google Cloud Platform for advanced capabilities.
Kong is an open-source company that creates, manages, and extends your APIs and microservices. They have invested heavily in building an offering that can live in any cloud and is supported by an open-source community that is concentrated in APAC.
4. MuleSoft, a Salesforce company
MuleSoft’s offering is derived from their market-leading Enterprise Serial Bus (ESB) that lets the enterprise route API traffic through a high-speed processing bus when on-prem or its CloudHub component in the cloud.
APIs are part of this integration platform, but the core focus is an integration platform as a service leveraging an extensive connector library.
Since the earlier publication of this article, Akana has been acquired by Perforce. Their platform remains strong for portal-focused implementations protecting the enterprise REST-based APIs and corresponding flows.
6. CA Technologies (Broadcom)
CA Technologies was acquired by Broadcom in 2018 and has shifted its focus to mainframe customers and select enterprise API Management customers.
Its strong security offering from 2018 has received some investments to modernize to support cloud growth. However, the platform is not very extensible or developer-friendly.
7. IBM API Connect
IBM API Connect has been around for a long time. Starting with Data Power appliances, evolving to API Connect, and now navigating the merging of 3scale by RedHat.
Strong OpenShift focuses along with integration into the IBM Enterprise Suite and on a path to a proprietary IBM cloud offering.
8. Dell Boomi
Dell Boomi promotes itself as an “enterprise integration platform as a service. No hardware or software to manage.”
Dell Boomi offers on-prem and cloud offerings with lightweight API Management functionality that tends to be complemented by other vendors where the depth of features and security is required.
9. Amazon Web Services
Leading cloud provider, AWS is easy to set up and get running, but short on features as the AWS API Gateway is meant to be a pathway to other AWS services.
It’s very common for AWS customers to lean on enterprise gateways for complex, high-security workflows and have AWS support easy developer scenarios and evaluation of embedded AWS services like Lamda, Redshift, etc.
A key enterprise cloud provider, Azure has added immense value to their cloud stack of late. The focus for Azure is not API Management, the core offering is simple and lightweight out of the box.
As a result, Azure partners with companies like Axway to deliver a powerful cloud + API Management platform offering where enterprises require enhanced security, complex workloads, and extensibility to other integration patterns.
Technology investments and implementations are never easy, and the time allotted to doing this today continues to shrink.
The business demands a faster time to market, scale in growing successful areas of the business the lean heavily on the underpinning technology, and little room for heavily customizing a solution to meet your needs.
In reviewing this article, I hope you got a balance of business and technical concepts to employ when looking at your 2021 initiatives and determining what type of API Management platform best addresses your needs.
Enterprise vs. Open-source
Since people are the key to your success, consider the flavor of the API platform chosen and its implications.
In the case of open source, you inherit support, have to build your own roadmap, and now need to custom code fixes or rely on a community that may address critical issues or may not. And testing and security get interesting.
On the flip side, enterprise vendors offer robust platforms with heavily tested features and vetted security, but is there a high hurdle to upskill your teams on the platform?
Is the enterprise vendor truly a partner that is engaged with your needs, offers the experience and depth you require both in the value of their product and vision such that you can offload the burden of API Management to their team in securing your digital future.
Learn more details about Full API Lifecycle Management.
Read more about selecting a strategy and list of API Management vendors here.
Discover the checklist of 10 strategic API action items to drive success.