As the usage of mobile applications continues to soar worldwide, the importance of APIs (application programming interfaces) are increasingly coming into focus. Most apps need to have robust backend support and cloud connectivity for optimum functionality – and it is precisely here that APIs come in handy. By the end of November 2017, there were nearly 18800 APIs in ProgrammableWeb – with the number going up all the time.
With the volume of data being exposed through APIs increasing (through apps), the importance of proper, end-to-end API management can hardly be overemphasized. APIs need to be managed both from their technical as well as their business operations standpoints. There are several high-quality API management tools currently available, which can play key roles in the API optimization strategies of developers. Over here, we take a look at some of these API management platforms:
Created by RogueWave Software, Akana delivers holistic API management services to users. Apart from being available in the form of a dynamic software-as-a-service, the platform can also be used as an on-premises tool, as well as a channel for hybrid deployment. Right from API designing and implementation, to traffic management, API security and monitoring, and publishing – everything can be efficiently managed on the Akana platform. The multi-channel availability of this platform – on mobile, cloud services, and through IoT – facilitates digital transformation of enterprises at exponential rates. Data sharing with APIs, partner adoption and asset monetization are key factors that boost the importance of the Akana platform for businesses. It has a systematic, multi-tenant infrastructure.
Note: Version 8.4 of the Akana Platform is currently available.
Acquired by CA Technologies in April 2013, the Layer7 gateway serves as a high-quality, all-round service-oriented architecture (SOA) platform. It allows seamless deployment of digital interfaces – both on the cloud, as well as on an ‘on-premise’ basis. The tool factors in all the essential elements for overall API lifecycle management – with strong built-in support for app development and API creation/deployment. What’s more, the Layer7 platform offers enhanced threat protection assurance to both API providers and end-users (app developers). The different tools included in the erstwhile Layer7 product family are now known as CA API Gateway, CA Mobile API Gateway, CA Live API Creator, CA Mobile App Services, CA API Management SaaS and CA API Developer Portal.
Earlier this year, TIBCO Software announced the launch of TIBCO Mashery Professional – an all-new, multi-featured API management platform. Developers (both in-house and external) are provided with a single point of API access – making things more convenient. The embedded developer portal can transform APIs into products, while the connectivity options to cloud applications (public/private) and in-house applications is also an advantage. Speed (‘agile experimentation’) is yet another advantage of the TIBCO Mashery platform – with faster sharing of digital assets, and quicker development of mobile applications. Businesses can leverage greater flexibility from this platform, which comes with a useful security and performance dashboard.
Note: A thirty-day free trial period is available for the Mashery platform.
Easily one of the best API management platforms out there at present. It offers in-depth management of APIs of their entire lifecycle – covering key points phases like designing, security monitoring, scalability, analytics, and even monetization. ‘Independent scaling’ and ‘traffic isolation’ are two of the most important, useful features of Apigee – and the platform can be used for API deployment on partner apps, consumer apps, legacy apps, cloud apps, and of course, the Internet of Things. API proxies can be designed and directly deployed from the Swagger specifications (Open API), and the platform also comes with enterprise-grade OAuth 2.0 security standards. API visibility levels are also bolstered by the instant tracking of performance and developer-usage of APIs. Rate limiting and dynamic routing help in managing sudden traffic spikes (API call spikes). API operations can be quickly automated on this platform. Apigee was acquired by Google in 2016 for a whopping $625 million.
Note: The platform for creating and managing API proxies is called Apigee Edge. It is built on a Java framework.
Optimized data governance and end-to-end management of the value chain of digital businesses are the two core functions of the Axway platform. It enables API providers to establish better two-way communications with suppliers, customers and third-party developer communities. Compatible, connected devices can be controlled real-time with the Axway platform – and it also opens up the possibilities of adopting reusable components and ‘not-configure’ coding. Once again, Axway is available for on-premise and cloud deployments, and data is governed around the edge of enterprises – delivering greater business value. Axway has a DevOps-friendly structure, and ensures unified app development, secure integration and multi-channel usability.
Note: Syncplicity was acquired by Axway in February 2017. The latter had earlier acquired Appcelerator as well.
For designing and deployment of APIs on the cloud, Restlet is an excellent platform. Just like most of the other platforms on this list, this one also lets developers follow an API-first approach, with customized security and controls. This web API platform vendor offers smooth API designing and documentation through Restlet Studio, while data APIs are created and hosted in the Restlet Cloud. On the other hand, Restlet Client allows users to test their APIs, as well as automate the tools as required. For creating, managing and hosting APIs, the platform offers API PaaS (product-as-a-service). Restlet also helps in API consumption monitoring. The platform has been created with the APISpark interface.
Note: In order to generate the SDKs required in RESTful APIs, the REST United platform (an online application) can be used.
The MuleSoft AnyPoint Platform has been a go-to API management tool for seamlessly integrating enterprise apps and software-as-a-service (SaaS) in the cloud. The platform uses integrations (hybrid) and APIs for the scaling of application networks – involving devices, apps and other software tools. Business agility levels are boosted, by doing away with the need for point-to-point integration – and the built-in SDLC (systems development life cycle) allows unified, rapid development. Valuable IT assets can be shared securely with authorized internal/external parties, while self-servicing features are available too. API scalability and flexibility levels are high – thanks to the lean runtime of the AnyPoint Platform. A design-first approach is adopted, and custom connectors can be used to connect the platform with practically any data source (apps, REST/SOAP APIs, databases, etc.). All the required API analytics are managed from this platform.
Based on the Laravel framework, the DreamFactory tool is relied upon by many mobile app developers to give their new software that extra bit of edge. Powerful and reliable REST APIs are automatically created by DF for email handling, SQL/noSQL, storage features, and a lot more functions. In essence, DreamFactory functions as an open source REST API platform, for web apps and IoT apps (apart from mobile applications). The REST APIs are generated without any coding, and server-side scripting allows for smooth custom logic implementation. Each API endpoint is secured with the latest threat-prevention tools. All that external app developers have to do is install the DreamFactory package on their systems, get their data connected, and integrate the REST APIs to start building cutting-edge applications.
Note: DreamFactory has been used in two of our recent projects – Eventify and MAPT.
Collaboration is the name of the game on the Apiary – which currently boasts of having well over 3 million developers onboard. It ensures that every stakeholder – right from app architects and developers, to partners, product managers and testers – can get their ideas and opinions across, related to API designing. The platform offers three separate user-roles (Viewer, Editor and Admin), and team members can be added or removed from design projects with ease. New projects can be bootstrapped with the API Blueprint template – and all such blueprints can be managed on a single, unified dashboard on the Apiary platform. API testing is continuous and from a single destination – a one-of-its kind feature, while the creative control and the systematic, simplified workflow are also worth a mention.
Note: Apiary was acquired by Oracle in January this year.
Apart from being a top-quality software management platform, Mashape also doubles up as an engaging API marketplace (i.e., new APIs can be listed by providers here). The platform serves as a point of cloud proxy connection between app-makers (or, API-users/callers) and the API suppliers. API coding language libraries are available in different languages, the platform has powerful testing tools, and codes can be used to generate custom errors. Both standardized microservices and APIs can be visualized, inspected and monitored on Mashape – which also renders the task of multiple API-usage a whole lot faster. Add to that the greater API discoverability options with the new listings – and Mashape becomes a really well-rounded API platform indeed.
An open-source API management platform that comes with a plethora of high-end features. The platform assigns a backend application to monitor and track APIs, with rate-limiting requests (based either on the front-end app or the concerned user(s)). The in-built JSON schema is in charge of all request validations, From the designated Fusio ‘developer portal’, third-party developers can call and use APIs easily. REST APIs can be built without any coding involved, all the key metrics can be managed, and extending the APIs (for instance, in case of a complication) is possible. The platform provides an API documentation app as well, and it is also has OAuth2 authorizations (access tokens).
On-premise, in the cloud, datacenters (single, multi or hybrid) – the Kong API management layer can be deployed across different ecosystems. NGINX is the underlying layer for the customized RESTful interface of this platform, and there several useful plugins available to bolster API functionality levels. While using the Kong platform, enterprises can control the architecture they are working with at all times. The overall complexity and required time for API deployments are considerably reduced by the platform – and the latter also has the capability of transforming requests/responses real-time. API traffic can be managed, the relevant analytics can be tracked, and serverless functions can be efficiently invoked. The onboarding process is pretty much straightforward too.
Note: In addition to the Community Edition (v.0.11.2 currently available), the Kong platform also has an Enterprise Edition.
A secure, distributed cloud-hosted layer lies at the heart of the 3Scale API platform. Much like any other good API management tool, 3Scale promises minimal latency and high availability (the uptime satisfies the ‘five-9’s requirement). The platform is a part of the Red Hat network – and it has OAuth tokens and API keys to manage the endpoint security requirements. Access control is expertly managed, deployments are on the cloud or on-premise, and rate limiting (e.g., ‘X’ API calls per minute) features are provided in the platform. The 3Scale Dashboard is a great way of keeping track of all the API engagements and traffic levels – and the platform also has state-of-the-art API monetization tools. The Swagger framework powers ActiveDocs – the live API documentation tool built inside 3Scale. Apart from being a great mobile backend support, this platform presents APIs as a business (APIaaS).
ApiAxle, Tyke, Apiman and Deployd are some other powerful and popular API management platforms that you can check out. For web service interfaces, using the API Umbrella platform would also be a good option. Amazon Web Services serves as a very reliable and efficient cloud computing platform. Use of APIs is going to keep spiralling upwards in the foreseeable future – and for true API strategy optimization, using the platforms mentioned here will surely be the way to go.