Many organisations now know that they want APIs and API Management, but struggle to select the best enterprise API management solution from the dozens which are springing up.
We’re seeing a number of new players on the market, or the more established players who develop their own solutions, or tack solutions onto their existing offerings. Many companies are turning to the API vendors for help. This is great, but of course the advice they offer isn’t impartial. The best thing you can do for yourself is to do your own research, or to seek advice from an impartial consultancy such as Integrella to help you select the best API solution.
A good way to evaluate API Management solutions is to compare their features against a set of categories which you define yourself. This is a list we suggest. Any solution should cover these at a minimum:
- Documentation and training – Finding out how an API works is key. Developers should be able to read the documentation, complete training, and try the tools so they can become familiar with it. You could have the best tool in the world, but if it is not easy to learn or use, it will only cause more complications.
- Developer & Partner engagement – Getting developers on board is key to API consumption. Having an easily accessible developer portal, which is easy (and even fun) to use – is really important.
- Sandbox environment – This should fit in to your portal, engagement and training elements as above.
- Analytics and Statistics – Understand all the ways your API might be consumed, and what insight might be gained from this.
- Deployment – Note the flexibility available here – is it supported in the cloud, on-premise, or hybrid?
- Traffic management and caching abilities
- Security – This is a big one, which most companies will have concerns about. Do you go in the cloud or on premise? Exposed information should be well protected – with at least identity and access management for users and developers.
- Monetisation – This is ones of the key reasons companies want APIs – it has the ability to open completelynew revenue channels, and reach new customers. It is also important ot be able to report on these.
- Availability – APIs and portals should be available and scalable, and there should be clarity on what happens when an API becomes redundant.
- Support of legacy systems – How does your API affect legacy systems?
- Type of implementation – Proxy / Agent / Hybrid implementation
- Current customers – Whether / how many current paid customers they have in your industry.
There are a number of good resources to help you seek out the best API solution, among them being “The Forrester API Management Report: The 14 Providers That Matter Most And How They Stack Up” published in November 2016. They identified some of the most significant providers of such solutions – including Akana, Apigee, IBM, Microsoft, Mulesoft, Red Hat and Tibco software among the top contenders. It shows how each provider measures up and helps application development and delivery professionals make the right choice for their environment.
Their inclusion criteria were that:
- it’s a complete API management solution
- it’s a standalone API management solution
- there are at least 10 paying customers in production
You can purchase the full report from Forrester directly.
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