As organizations adopt a variety of enterprise applications, they also need these solutions to work together, even though they come from different vendors. Many businesses also want to change the functions of these applications to better fit their specific needs. Top application programming interface (API) management solutions allow dev teams to connect their critical business software, design new applications, and refine and adapt existing applications.
This guide to major API management tools provides highlights of each API management platform’s key features and more to determine which would be a good fit for your business.
Top API management platforms
- Postman: Best for API testing
- SAP Integration Suite: Best for large enterprises and experienced application dev teams
- Workato: Best for automation
- Boomi: Best for inter-cloud data transfer
- IBM API Connect: Best for API lifecycle management
- Software AG WebMethods: Best for Java developers
- MuleSoft Anypoint Platform: Best for API design
Postman: Best for API testing
Postman is one of the world’s most popular API platforms, with over 17 million users and 500,000 organizations. The tool comes with a flexible, collaborative environment that allows you to design, develop, document, and test your APIs faster. In addition, it helps test out the different endpoints of your web services with ease. Postman is available as a desktop app on MacOSX and Windows and mobile apps for both iOS and Android.
Postman caters to businesses of all sizes, including smaller organizations that can’t afford some of the larger API management tools. It may not be the best solution for enterprises looking to perform migrations of massive data sets.
- Reporting: The reporting dashboard allows you to track and manage your API lifecycle. The data is presented in the form of reports on API activities, such as creation, collection execution, and test runs. You’ll also get insights into API usage, performance, troubleshooting, and SLA compliance.
- Role-based access control: The permissions feature allows you to control users’ access for each environment or collection, both in terms of read and write operations. Role-based delegation of tasks is also possible, so you can determine who can manage which APIs.
- User groups: This allows you to create user groups and assign permissions to each group. For example, you can limit access based on a user’s role.
- Token scanning: Capture and scan all incoming requests/responses for tokens, secrets, and passwords, so you don’t have to find and validate them manually.
- Audit logs: The product provides a detailed audit log for all API requests, including metadata, such as who created or deleted a collection, which user was involved in the process, and when it happened.
- Deployment control: The product allows you to restrict the ability to deploy from specific environments and collections.
- Postman is one of the most popular and easy-to-use testing solutions
- Postman has a relatively user-friendly interface
- The team workspace feature allows developers on the same team to collaborate on an API project and share documentation
- Postman doesn’t support other APIs well, like SOAP — only RESTful APIs
- Some Postman users noticed crashes or slowdowns from the software, noting that it consumed heavy amounts of memory
Enterprise pricing is $99 per user per month and billed annually.
SAP Integration Suite: Best for large enterprises and application development teams
SAP Integration Suite, formerly known as SAP Cloud Platform, is a comprehensive cloud solution for building and managing APIs and data and process integration. It integrates with other SAP enterprise applications, like HANA. Organizations that already use other SAP solutions should consider the Integration Suite as well.
SAP Integration Suite is ideal for larger businesses and experienced application development teams that will benefit from its advanced API management features. Teams should be prepared for the heavy personnel maintenance requirements if they choose SAP.
- API Portal: This central entry point allows developers to discover, use, manage, monitor, publish and analyze the APIs used in their business processes. This is backed by an open marketplace where you can buy and sell APIs.
- API Gateway: The gateway enables you to connect your existing applications, both legacy and cloud, with other enterprise apps as well as developers building new services.
- Access management: Authorization and access management are possible through OAuth support. The service also supports rate limiting/throttling for each application or group of users.
- API Developer: A developer console to help developers understand, monitor, and manage their APIs. This includes support for customizable API metadata management. SAP also provides a testing environment that helps test your APIs before production.
- Data connectivity and integration tools: These offer capabilities such as data discovery, transformation (ETL), and data quality as well as a set of cloud-based capabilities, like Master Data Management (MDM).
- For companies that already use SAP solutions, like SAP HANA, the Integration Suite allows them to sync their existing cloud platforms
- The SAP Integration Suite is ideal for large enterprises that need to develop their own applications and have a toolbox of development and testing tools to do so
- The SAP Integration Suite is a relatively expensive solution, not budget-friendly for smaller organizations
- For best results, the suite takes time to implement, and teams will likely need some dedicated and experienced personnel to successfully use it.
Estimates from SAP are provided upon request.
Learn more about the features that every API management solution should have.
Workato: Best for automation
Workato is used by more than 7,000 of companies worldwide. This tool is an intelligent automation platform that allows you to integrate various tools with your APIs. It’s useful for teams with inexperienced or citizen developers who still need to be involved in the automation design process.
Workato is beneficial for experienced teams, but it’s especially useful for non-IT or non-dev team members who still need to create automations. Because it’s a low-code solution, teams with both experienced engineers and personnel with no coding background can collaborate on API and automation projects.
- Low-code integration core: Allows you to create integrations without writing a single line of code. The tool includes an easy drag- and-drop interface.
- Enterprise workflow automation: Enables you to create workflows triggered by events and automate processes.
- Connectivity: The product connects with hundreds of applications, like Salesforce, Office 365, and Google Apps.
- Intelligence: It provides pre-built connectors that help you get started with APIs as well as an open API to allow developers to create their modules on the platform. You can use this for data enrichment or transformation/combination of data from different sources. Other features include automated testing capabilities, which are provided by integrating open-source tools, such as Selenium and Jenkins.
- On-prem agent: Access on-premises databases and folders without needing to pass through the customer organization’s firewall.
Workato’s low-code and no-code approach allows less experienced developers to build workflow automations.
Workato’s pricing is high for small and medium businesses, and pricing is calculated based on workflows used.
Estimates are provided upon request.
Boomi: Best for inter-cloud data transfer
Boomi is a complete cloud connection platform that allows you to connect any application in the enterprise with APIs or web services from anywhere in the world. The product can integrate data from on-premise apps using SOAP or REST calls; it also supports the integration of APIs from SaaS apps.
Boomi is ideal for businesses that need to integrate many applications and data sources, especially if they’re processing large datasets from different locations. Boomi is also a good choice for teams with limited programming experience, because it’s a low-code platform.
- Cloud application and database support: Provides a single interface for your enterprise applications, databases, and cloud and web services.
- Protocol support: Supports REST-based web services as well as secure file transfers using SFTP or FTPS.
- Data search: A connector browser that allows you to search for data sources as well as the ability to create custom connectors.
- Data transformation capabilities: The ETL engine helps you create data transformation maps, which enable processing multiple data sources at a time. It also provides real-time mapping and preview capabilities and support for error handling during integrations to handle errors gracefully.
- Pervasive intelligence: The product is built around a pluggable architecture that makes it easier to integrate new data sources This includes APIs, databases, and cloud applications.
- Automatic testing: This capability is provided through its open-source connector with Jenkins Integration Suite.
- Boomi’s low-code approach allows inexperienced developers or other non-technical team members to design data workflows
- Multiple Boomi users spoke favorably about the customer support team
- Boomi offers many connector options
Boomi offers a 30-day free trial. iPaaS pricing is available from the vendor.
IBM API Connect: Best for API lifecycle management
The product is an integration platform built for DevOps, providing a single connector to all your APIs and web services. It allows you to integrate data from different sources into one central location or database. IBM API Connect provides the ability to create custom connectors based on open standards, such as UDDI or RESTful APIs, and RESTful API support is available for both private and public cloud applications.
IBM API Connect is a good choice for enterprises that need a highly secure API management solution. If your business needs to manage the entire API life cycle from one dashboard, consider IBM.
- Enterprise-grade security: Built-in authentication, authorization, and encryption features for all your APIs, allowing you to deploy the solution in production systems.
- Ease of use: Supports a GUI that can be used to define, monitor, and manage your APIs in real-time. Other features include automated test capabilities provided through open-source tools, such as Selenium and Jenkins.
- Cloud connectors: Provides built-in connectors for Salesforce, Azure, and AWS. It also has pre-built templates that can be customized to meet your business needs.
- Users like the simplicity of the UI and the ability to manage all parts of the API life cycle from a single portal
- API Connect has advanced security features compared to other competitors
- IBM API Connect is a particularly stable solution
- IBM API Connect is expensive for some small businesses
- Some user reviews mention a deficit in available product documentation
IBM API Connect offers four pricing tiers with a free trial.
Learn more about best practices for API security.
Software AG: Best for Java developers
Software AG’s webMethods is a powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use platform for integrating your on-premises applications with SaaS apps, creating APIs, and processing B2B partner transactions. It has consistently been recognized as a leader in integration, API management, and B2B.
Application development teams should consider Software AG for digital transformation projects and hybrid or multicloud application integrations.
- Control API security: Enables you to manage and control your APIs and monitor usage patterns; this includes user authentication and authorization.
- Monetize your data: It provides a cloud-based API marketplace that allows you to monetize your data and digital assets while also accessing APIs from other providers.
- Catalog APIs: It enables you to manage and catalog your APIs and monitor their usage patterns.
- Monitor API consumption: Allows you to monitor your APIs and track usage patterns to identify potential improvement opportunities.
- The Integration Server supports over 300 application connectors
- Because WebMethods runs on Java services, it’s beneficial for experienced Java programmers who want to perform advanced coding
Contact sales for pricing.
MuleSoft Anypoint Platform: Best for API design
MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform is an enterprise-grade cloud platform for connecting apps and data across the entire API life cycle. The platform includes integrations with thousands of applications via pre-built connectors to SaaS solutions, like Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow, Box, and more. It also has built-in integrations with over 70 APIs.
In addition, the platform provides secure access to data and services via an open, pluggable architecture that enables broad connectivity to existing systems and cloud services. It is also built on open standards, which allows businesses to connect with any application.
Enterprises that need a scalable API management solution that works with multiple cloud environments should consider MuleSoft. Because MuleSoft is now owned by Salesforce, existing Salesforce customers should consider it if they’re implementing a new application management tool.
- Broad connectivity to existing systems and cloud services: Provides secure access to data and services via an open, pluggable architecture that enables broad connectivity to existing systems and cloud services.
- Built on open standards: Built on open standards that enable businesses to connect with any application.
- Rapid API creation: Allows you to quickly and easily create APIs and includes built-in integrations with over 70 APIs.
- Low total cost of ownership: Enterprise-grade and built with a modular design, which allows you to grow your platform as your business needs change.
- Multicloud support: Can deploy APIs across multiple clouds, including IBM Bluemix and Amazon Web Services.
- MuleSoft’s Anypoint Design Studio provides developers with a space to prepare and design their applications
- Customers find Mulesoft Anypoint easy to use overall
- Anypoint is Java-based, making it a good choice for teams with experienced Java programmers
- Mulesoft uses Eclipse as its integrated development environment (IDE), and Eclipse has heavy memory consumption and slowdown tendencies that might hinder developers working on large projects
- Mulesoft doesn’t retrieve metadata from databases when mapping occurs
MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform comes with a free trial. Contact the provider for enterprise pricing.
Bottom line: Choosing an API management tool
To select an API management tool, ask the following questions:
- How large and experienced is my organization’s dev team? Do they need a solution with a simple user interface and low-code options, or are they experienced enough to benefit from doing advanced coding?
- Which types of APIs do these products support? Do our teams need only REST API support or SOAP too?
- Can our systems provide the memory required to support this platform? Or will they lack sufficient computing power? Different API management tools have varied processing capabilities.
By considering your dev team’s needs and requirements for your most critical business applications, your business will be better positioned to select a suitable API management platform.
Is your business also considering an API testing solution? Read our picks for the best API testing tools next.