The expansion in cloud services available online makes choosing the right products an exhaustive task. Additionally, after choosing one provider, you’re often coerced into baking that service into your application. This increases the switching costs associated with cloud services like functions, API management, or storage.
As evidence that we are all human, your first choice isn’t always the best. Similarly, the most popular choice may be too expensive or over complicated.
This post helps you simplify your research. Also, it could be the first step in giving an existing application a second chance to choose the right service for their API.
What is API Management?
The term, API Management, is loosely formed around a collection of components that help developers, CTOs, and DevOps manage their API(s). The list of components1 includes:
- Gateway (Security)
- Developer Portal
- Lifecycle Management
There are many interdependencies between the components. Conversely, it isn’t easy to find one API management service that checks every box for your API. Therefore, the alternatives in the next section are not all a one-to-one service mapping to Azure API management or offer the same services across the board. Fortunately, that could benefit your search!
Most of the alternatives and competitors in the list focus on REST APIs. However, some offer support for REST APIs, GraphQL, and WebSocket APIs.
Azure API Management Alternatives
The RapidAPI platform has different API management services that can benefit a single developer, team, or enterprise.
You can upload an API within an organization using the UI, an OpenAPI spec, Postman Collection, GraphQL Schema, or Kafka file. Next, you have the ability to:
- Customize the API for your organization
- Configure the route specs (or set up CI/CD to fetch specs)
- Enable security features
- Define API pricing plans (for external APIs)
- Provide additional documentation
- Preview the unpublished API in the marketplace
After publishing, your API is immediately monetized and discoverable on the world’s largest API marketplace.
Other developers can connect to or test your API (you can also configure mock responses), read your documentation, and communicate with you on the API’s dashboard in the marketplace. Also, you can view analytics, receive alerts, send announcements to subscribers, set up tests, and manage internal users on the provider dashboard.
A surprising amount of the previously mentioned features are free. However, some aspects—like the number of users and testing—have pricing tiers.
If you have a larger team or organization, RapidAPI offers an enterprise platform for different API scenarios, like:
- Internal marketplace
- Partner marketplace
- Larger external customer API marketplace
- Abstraction layer above multiple API gateways
The enterprise hub is the solution in the case of managing environments across multiple cloud or hybrid environments.
Kong Gateway is an open-source alternative to closed source API management services. However, Kong also offers extended paid services and managed enterprise solutions. The open-source technology uses NGINX in the Kong Sever to “process the API requests and execute the configured plugins to provide additional functionalities to the underlying APIs before proxying the request upstream.”2.
The Kong Server, which can deploy to public or private clouds, needs a datastore for configuration options and managing plugins. Consequently, you’ll need a compatible database (Apache Cassandra or PostgreSQL) along with the Kong Gateway server.
If choosing the open-source Kong software, you’ll need to become familiar with Kong plugins and have the capacity to manage and set up the cloud infrastructure.
You can find SaaS solutions after signing up for Kong Konnect that provides other API management components like:
- Developer portal
- ServiceHub (lifecycle management)
3. Apigee (X and Edge)
Apigee was bought by Google in 2017 but isn’t exclusively used on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). There are a few different Apigee products, and Google provides a table3 to help you sort things out.
With so many options, you can slice each set-up differently in terms of products, pricing, and services. The constant in each product is Apigee.
At its core Apigee allows you to build API proxies. The proxies you build:
…give you the full power of Apigee’s API platform to secure API calls, throttle traffic, mediate messages, control error handling, cache things, build developer portals, document APIs, analyze API traffic data, make money on the use of your APIs, protect against bad bots, and more.
You’ll find all the components necessary for API management on the platform. However, it’s not all bundled into one product. Some features, like monetization, you have to—ironically—pay for.
If you’re looking to avoid a large cloud provider (Azure, AWS, Google, etc.) Apigee Edge is still an option. This is because you can set up API proxies through Apigee Edge and get features through Apigee. However, the product is tightly coupled with GCP, so as your product grows, you may find yourself leaning further toward an Apigee X solution on GCP.
Browse Apigee alternatives
4. Mulesoft Anypoint Platform
Mulesoft’s Anypoint Platform offers4:
- Prebuilt API policies
- API Gateway
- OAS, RAML, and SOAP support
- Authentication provider integration with PingFederate, Okta, LDAP, and OpenAM
- Service mesh
- Real-time analytics
API Community Manager
Like Azure’s developer portal, Mulesoft offers a community manager with a drag-n-drop editor to build a website to share information between API stakeholders. Unlike Azure’s developer’s portal, the community manager offers a wider selection of features like scheduling developer events, peer question forums, and API analytics dashboards.
Postman is a popular API client for testing applications and their corresponding APIs. This makes it an alternative candidate because your developers are probably already familiar with the application. Furthermore, in addition to the API client, Postman has features for:
- Automated cloud API documentation
- Monitoring and Analytics
- Managing users
An important part of an API management strategy is an API gateway. Postman does not have in-house gateway software (at this time). However, they do offer integrations with other providers, including AWS API Gateway.
In conclusion, Postman is not a full API management solution but can solve part of the puzzle to help manage your APIs.
Browse Postman Alternatives
Tyk started as an open-source API gateway in 20145. Today, they have two series of API management programs: closed and open source.
Tyk’s open-source projects are:
- Pump (export API analytics)
- Operator (API configurations)
- Identity Broker (third part IdP integrations)
- Sync (Version control)
Their list of closed source projects includes:
- Developer Portal
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Tyk has taken an increasing interest in GraphQL since its early days. They offer a no-code universal data graph solution for centralizing data retrieval.
7. WSO2 API Manager
Staying in the open-source category, the WSO2 API Manager is the next alternative. The company has a long list of integration software and addons for CI/CD, analytics, governance, IoT, OpenBanking, and other cloud services. However, their open-source API manager provides “…API designing, API publishing, lifecycle management, application development, API security, rate limiting, viewing statistics of APIs, as well as connecting APIs, API Products, and endpoints.”6
As evident in other open-source solutions (Kong, Tyk), WSO2 doesn’t have the same ability as a provider, like RapidAPI, to immediately monetizing your API on an established API market. That comes as no surprise because many times, with open-source, you’re gaining control but increasing the work it takes to set up and manage the software.
The WSO2 website has a list of example APIM scenarios that WSO2 could solve. The list includes engaging access control, notifications using webhooks, and real-time data with WebSocket API.
Although some features are open-source (i.e., API manager), other services are paid for.
Finally, the last alternative on the list is Gravitee.io. The company started with the goal of “… building a powerful, intuitive solution based on a configure rather than code approach with the richest Open Source functionality available.”7
Gravitee.io follows the common theme of splitting up their software into open-source and closed (paid) services. The open-source software includes securing, publishing, and documenting APIs. Conversely, the paid source software has many features for designing, monitoring, and monetizing an organization’s APIs.
Is Azure API Management Open Source
Azure API Management is not open-source.
What is the best API management tool
You can view the top API management tools here, https://rapidapi.com/blog/top-api-management-tools/
What are API management tools?
API management tools help developers, DevOps—and other parties involved with an API—design, version, document, secure, and monetize their internal or external APIs.
What is the difference between API Management and API gateway
An API gateway is a server, application, or resource that acts as a proxy for API resources. It controls, facilitates, and manages incoming traffic. It is used for processes like authorization, rate limiting, and aggregating API results. An API management system comprises different components that help distinguish the different sets of processes taking place. API management aims to efficiently and effectively facilitate the requirements to fulfill the API’s purpose.
1 Retz, Jarrett. “What Is API Management | API Management Platform | RapidAPI.” The Last Call – RapidAPI Blog, 2 Jan. 2021, rapidapi.com/blog/api-management/. Accessed 6 June 2021.
2 “Kong FAQ | Kong API Gateway Questions & Answers.” KongHQ, konghq.com/faqs/?itm_source=website&itm_medium=nav. Accessed 6 June 2021.
3 “Compare Apigee Products | Apigee X.” Google Cloud, cloud.google.com/apigee/docs/api-platform/get-started/compare-apigee-products. Accessed 6 June 2021.
4 “API Management Platform | API Manager.” MuleSoft, www.mulesoft.com/platform/api/manager. Accessed 6 June 2021.
5 “Company.” Tyk API Gateway and API Management, tyk.io/company/. Accessed 6 June 2021.
6 “Overview – WSO2 API Manager Documentation 4.0.0.” Apim.docs.wso2.com, apim.docs.wso2.com/en/latest/design/api-security/api-authentication/api-authentication-overview/. Accessed 6 June 2021.
7 “About Us – Gravitee.io.” Www.gravitee.io, www.gravitee.io/company. Accessed 6 June 2021.