Best API Management Tools Shortlist
Here's a selection of my top recommendations for the best API management platforms in 2023 based on my evaluation of core functionalities, specific use cases, and strengths of each platform:
- Kong - Best customizable API platform
- Postman - Best collaborative platform for API design and development
- Apigee - Best for large-scale deployments and integration with Google Cloud
- Tyk - Best open-source API gateway for ease of deployment and scalability
- IBM API Connect - Best for large enterprises with a focus on security
- Amazon API Gateway - Best for organizations that use AWS infrastructure
- Boomi - Best for automation and easy integrations of API, data, and application
- Azure API Management - Best for unified API management of all external and internal APIs
- Gravitee - Best event-native API management solution
- Mulesoft Anypoint Platform - Best for complex API integrations
- WSO2 API Manager - Best open-source API management platform for enterprises
- SwaggerHub - Best for high-speed API design and development
Application programming interfaces (APIs) can become complex to manage. Not only do you need to create clear documentation for developers, you need to ensure that your API can scale efficiently. Security risks are another challenge, especially as API usage expands.
API management tools help you handle complexities at different stages of the API lifecycle process. I have analyzed top API management tools in the market and summarized my findings to help you choose the right tool based on your business context and specific requirements.
What Is An API Management Tool?
An API management tool is software that helps you streamline and manage the lifecycle of an API from a centralized platform, from design and testing to deployment and optimization. It helps you deal with security concerns, developer onboarding challenges, tracking performance, or scalability issues.
The primary users of API management platforms include API administrators, IT operations teams, and other relevant stakeholders involved in API development, deployment, and utilization of APIs.
Overviews of the 12 Best API Management Tools
Below is my assessment of the best API management tools. For each tool, I have highlighted a specific use case, summarized the main reasons why I chose it, and listed down its key features, integrations, pros, and cons.
1. Kong - Best customizable API platform
Kong Konnect is a cloud-native API platform that helps you develop and run secured APIs and microservices. It offers an extensive ecosystem of 400+ plugins and integrations that enable customizations and faster shipping of feature-rich APIs.
Why I picked Kong: I chose Kong because of its flexibility and customization to build, run, and govern secured APIs and microservices. It has a lightweight architecture and extensive plugin functionality to allow developers to build and ship APIs faster.
Kong Standout Features and Integrations:
Some of the standout features of Kong include Vitals, Runtime Manager, and Insomnia. I think Runtime Manager is the most important feature, as you can use it to control and manage Kong Gateway instances and services in different environments and platforms.
Kong offers pre-built integrations with Prometheus, OAuth 2.0 Authentication, AWS Lambda, Datadog, Azure Functions, Canary Release, and Open Telemetry.
Trial: Free plan available
- Modular, extensible, and scalable
- Optimized for microservices
- Enterprise-grade security, governance, and compliance
- Complex and confusing initial setup
- Advanced features only available in the Enterprise version
2. Postman - Best collaborative platform for API design and development
Postman simplifies and accelerates the API development process with its user-friendly interface. It streamlines developer collaboration and helps them in the easy design, testing, and documentation of APIs.
Why I picked Postman: I think Postman is the most comprehensive solution for the entire API lifecycle, from design to governance. It is a developer-friendly tool that comes with powerful tools to design, test, and debug APIs in a collaborative workspace.
Postman Standout Features and Integrations:
Some of the standout features of Postman include workspaces for collaboration, an API client to debug and test APIs, monitors to periodically check API performance, and mock servers to simulate the behavior of real APIs without an actual back-end server. I believe these features enable an efficient and collaborative developer-friendly environment for Postman.
Postman offers pre-built integrations with PagerDuty, Datadog, AWS Gateway, Azure API Management, Splunk, Slack, Microsoft Power Automate, and Microsoft Teams.
Pricing: From $12 per user/month (billed annually)
Trial: Free plan available
- User-friendly interface and extensive collaboration capabilities
- Efficient testing and documentation workflow
- Compatible with various tech protocols, tools, and formats
- High disk usage can lead to performance issues
- Cumbersome user interface
3. Apigee - Best for large-scale deployments and integration with Google Cloud
Apigee is a native API management tool of the Google Cloud ecosystem. It is a fully-managed comprehensive solution to manage APIs with high-traffic volume and offers advanced API security with ML-powered dashboards.
Why I picked Apigee: I chose Apigee because it delivers superior performance and scale for large applications. Since it’s a part of Google Cloud, I think it’s the perfect API management platform if you want to leverage the strength of the Google ecosystem to deliver high performance, reliability, and security for APIs.
Apigee Standout Features and Integrations:
Some of the key features of Apigee include Apigee Hybrid, Apigee Sense, and API Monetization. I think these features make Apigee a perfect solution for large enterprises dealing with high traffic and multiple APIs.
Apigee offers pre-built integrations with Google Workspaces and Google Cloud Services like Cloud Monitoring, BigQuery, and Cloud Storage.
Pricing: From $750/month (for an Apigee gateway node)
Trial: Free 60-day evaluation
- Unparalleled scale, security, and performance with Google’s network architecture
- Ideal for high workloads that need AI and ML capabilities
- Comprehensive documentation and user-friendly interface
- Expensive initial setup for small enterprises
- Limited out-of-the-box features and less customizability
4. Tyk - Best open-source API gateway for ease of deployment and scalability
Tyk is a full lifecycle API management tool with a fully open-source codebase. The open-source gateway makes it easy to create new products faster and implement simple integrations for rapid scaling.
Why I picked Tyk: I chose Tyk because I think it offers a perfect combination of simplicity and scalability with high performance. It offers the flexibility to be deployed as a cloud service, open source, or enterprise solution, making it suitable for all business sizes and use cases. It is also lightweight in nature and supports multiple protocols like SOAP, REST, GraphQL, and gRPC.
Tyke Standout Features and Integrations:
Some of the standout features of Tyk include Tyk Pump to move the data to any back-end, Tyk Multi Data-Centre Bridge (MDCB) for centralized management of diverse clusters, and Tyk Identity Broker (TIB) to connect different Identity Management Systems. In my opinion, these features make Tyk suitable for lightweight deployments without compromising performance and scalability.
Tyk offers pre-built integrations with Datadog, Grafana, Kubernetes Prometheus, Firebase, and Istio.
Pricing: From $600/month
Trial: 5-week free trial
- Offers flexible deployment options
- Versatile features to cover the entire API lifecycle
- Platform agnostic and cloud-native
- Limited analytics in Tyk Dashboard
- Limited guidance from the documentation
5. IBM API Connect - Best for large enterprises with a focus on security
IBM API Connect is a robust enterprise API management platform with advanced security and governance functionalities. It also provides native integration with other IBM technologies like IBM DataPower Gateway and IBM Cloud, making it ideal for large organizations.
Why I picked IBM API Connect: I chose IBM API Connect because of its built-in security and governance features and excellent developer environment. I think its enterprise-grade API gateway is one of the best in class, with IBM's infrastructure at its core. It also comes with a native developer toolkit and intuitive self-service features.
IBM API Connect Standout Features and Integrations:
Some of the core features of IBM API Connect include IBM DataPower Gateway to manage API traffic, IBM Analytics for real-time performance and usage monitoring, and IBM Developer Portal to expose APIs to developers. I think IBM API Connect excels with its intuitive GUI and command-line interface (CLI) to help developers develop, debug, test, and publish secured APIs that meet performance and scalability requirements.
IBM offers native integrations with IBM Cloud, IBM Integration Bus, and IBM App Connect. It also offers pre-built connectors with AWS services, Salesforce CRM, Microsoft Teams, Azure, GitHub, Jira, and Slack.
Pricing: From $83/month (billed annually)
Trial: 30-day free trial
- Flexibility to deploy on IBM cloud, hybrid cloud, or multi-cloud environments
- Developer-friendly self-service features to manage the full API lifecycle
- Enterprise-grade security for data protection
- Can be extremely expensive
- Steep learning curve
6. Amazon API Gateway - Best for organizations that use AWS infrastructure
Amazon API Gateway is the API management solution by Amazon Web Services (AWS). It helps developers to develop, deploy, secure, share, and operate APIs in a simple, fast, and scalable way.
Why I picked Amazon API Gateway: I chose Amazon API Gateway because of its serverless computing capabilities and deep integration with AWS infrastructure. I think the best part of Amazon API Gateway is its tiered pricing model, where you only need to pay for what you use, making it an affordable solution if you’re just starting out.
Amazon API Gateway Standout Features and Integrations:
Some of the standout features of Amazon API Gateway include full-lifecycle API management, API Operations Monitoring with CloudWatch, and API key support for third-party developers. The support for REST APIs is another feature of Amazon API Gateway that I like, as it enables API keys for developers and lets you run multiple versions of the same APIs.
Amazon API Gateway offers native integrations with AWS Lambda, Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon EC2, Amazon Cognito, and AWS IAM. It also supports RESTful APIs and WebSocket APIs.
Pricing: From $1.00 per million request/month (for the first 300 million requests)
Trial: 12-month free tier (1 million API calls free per month)
- No minimum upfront fee
- Fully managed API solution
- Cost-effective with a tiered pricing model
- Lack of comprehensive documentation
- Limited customization
7. Boomi - Best for automation and easy integrations of API, data, and application
Boomi API Management supports the full lifecycle of APIs in any environment. It allows you to configure, publish, and govern APIs while supporting the integration of data and applications across any hybrid landscape.
Why I picked Boomi: I picked Boomi API Management because it is part of the overall Boomi platform that helps you integrate API management and data management services. You can leverage the power of the cloud, the low-code visual UI, and the distributed architecture to create composite applications and omnichannel experiences.
Boomi Standout Features and Integrations:
I think some of the standout features of Boomi that make it ideal for creating unified customer experiences are versioning to manage different versions of APIs, policy management to meet expected service levels, and the API developer portal to expose your APIs to consumers. These features help you maintain consistent API performance across your digital ecosystem.
Boomi has native integrations with Salesforce, SAP, and Amazon AWS. It also offers pre-built integrations via connectors for platforms like ServiceNow, NetSuite, and Slack.
Pricing: Pricing on request
Trial: 30-day free trial
- Low code, intuitive interface
- Supports multiple data standards and application connectors
- Historical data and trend insights
- Lack of transparent pricing
- Limited documentation for complex integrations
8. Azure API Management - Best for unified API management of all external and internal APIs
Azure API Management is a hybrid, multi-cloud solution to manage multiple APIs in a single place. It offers unified API management of all APIs that are hosted across Azure and other cloud and on-premise systems.
Why I picked Azure API Manager: I chose Azure API Manager because it offers a unified management experience. You can deploy API gateways for all APIs hosted in Azure, on-premises, and other clouds and manage them from one platform. Azure API Manager is the best choice for organizations who have legacy web services that they can convert into modern REST-based APIs using Azure.
Azure API Manager Standout Features and Integrations:
The standout features of Azure API Manager include automated API documentation, API Management Portal for distributed API management, and API Policies to set authentication, authorization, and usage limits. In my opinion, Azure is a great choice for organizations that already use Azure services and want one place to manage both external and internal APIs.
Azure API Manager offers native integrations with the Azure services like Functions, Logic Apps, Service Bus, Event Grid, and Monitor. It also offers pre-built integrations with Visual Studio Code and GitHub Actions.
Pricing: From $48.04/month
Trial: $200 Azure credit for 30 days
- Fully managed service by Microsoft
- Ability to turn legacy web-based services into modern REST-based APIs
- Good policy management to determine rate limits and control usage
- Limited functionality and customization
- High cost as you scale
9. Gravitee - Best event-native API management solution
Gravitee is a cloud-native and event-native API management solution that supports the full lifecycle of APIs in any environment. It supports multiple protocols and communication styles to help you create and manage API products for consumers.
Why I picked Gravitee: I picked Gravitee because it’s an event-native platform that supports both synchronous and asynchronous APIs and communication. I think its biggest advantage is it allows you to mediate between different protocols and API styles and enables you to apply policies at both the API call and message levels.
Gravitee Standout Features and Integrations:
The standout features of Gravitee are Policy Studio and API Designer. Policy Studio offers an easy user interface to apply pre-built policies whereas API Designer has a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to design and even deploy mock APIs for quick testing. These features simplify the development and management process.
Gravitee offers pre-built integrations via plugins for platforms like Kubernetes, Kafka, Grafana, MQTT, GraphQL, and ElasticSearch.
Pricing: From $30,000/year
Trial: Free plan available
- Cloud-native, event-native, and full-lifecycle platform
- Intuitive interface to create and manage APIs without coding
- Real-time alerts and usage insights
- Limited or incomplete documentation for advanced tasks
- Limited reporting functionality
10. Mulesoft Anypoint - Best for complex API integrations
Mulesoft Anypoint is a unified integration platform that connects applications, data, and devices with APIs. It offers a graphical user interface to design APIs and integrate functionalities with pre-built connectors.
Why I picked Mulesoft Anypoint: I chose Mulesoft Anypoint API Manager because it offers a combination of robust API management with extensive integration capabilities. I think that organizations with complex digital environments would find this combination helpful as Mulesoft also automatically integrates with DevOps and CI/CD workflows.
Mulesoft Anypoint Standout Features and Integrations:
Some of the standout features of Mulesoft Anypoint include Flex Gateway to secure APIs, pre-built and custom security policies, and service mesh to enforce consistent security and governance across microservices. I think these security features are the most important as they give the required stability to the platform with a vast range of integration capabilities.
Mulesoft Anypoint API Manager offers native integrations with other Anypoint platforms like Exchange, Studio, and Runtime Manager. It also offers pre-built integrations with Salesforce, SAP, AWS, Adobe Marketo, Google BigQuery, and Stripe.
Pricing: Pricing upon request
Trial: 30-day free trial
- Wide range of integrations with other business systems
- Fast delivery of APIs with CI/CD integration
- Supports data integration through Anypoint DataGraph
- Expensive for small businesses or startups
- Incomplete documentation for advanced features
11. WSO2 API Manager - Best open-source API management platform for enterprises
WSO2 API Manager is an open-source management platform to build and manage APIs for internal and external customers. It offers advanced integration, flexible deployment options, and a single catalog of your services to help developers find what they need.
Why I picked WSO2 API Manager: I chose WSO2 API Manager as it’s a great open-source solution for organizations. You can start with a free license and upgrade to a paid plan later for enterprise-grade support. Its microservices architecture further makes it ideal for enterprises who need custom functionalities and want to integrate API workflows with their CI/CD pipeline.
WSO2 API Manager Standout Features and Integrations:
The standout features of WSO2 API Manager include Micro Integrator to create microservices, a traffic manager for rate limiting and throttling, dynamic GUI, and CLI tooling for API development, integration, and deployment. Given its open-source nature, I think this is the most value-for-money API manager platform with comprehensive features for growing enterprises.
WSO2 API Manager offers pre-built integrations with OpenID Connect, JWTs, Salesforce, Amazon Lambda, Splunk, Google Firebase, and Pardot.
Pricing: Pricing upon request
- Open-source with a paid subscription for enterprise-grade support
- Easy setup and installation
- Customizable and extensible
- Complex migration
- Lack of detailed documentation
12. SwaggerHub - Best for high-speed API design and development
SwaggerHub is an API design and documentation platform to help developers develop standardized APIs faster. It’s compliant with OpenAPI Specifications (OAS) and supports AsyncAPI to enforce quality and style consistency and accelerate the design process.
Why I picked SwaggerHub: I picked SwaggerHub because it prioritizes standardization of the design and documentation process. It ensures a smooth collaboration among developers and ensures design consistency across APIs. This makes it ideal for startups and small businesses who want to ship APIs faster using multiple standards while maintaining consistency.
SwaggerHub Standout Features and Integrations:
Some of the standout features of SwaggerHub include built-in permissions and user roles, auto-generation of documentation, a powerful Editor, and Style Validators to ensure design consistency. It also supports versioning which, in my opinion, is a great feature to have when you want to ship a lot of APIs in a short time.
SwaggerHub has native integrations with Amazon API Gateway, Visual Studio Code, Microsoft Azure API, GitHub, Apigee, Maven, and IBM API Connect.
Pricing: From $95/month (billed annually)
Trial: Free plan available
- Helps manage multiple API versions
- Automatic documentation generation
- Codeless virtualization of operations using API Mocking
- Limited integrations
- Limited API testing capability
Other API Management Software Options
While these didn’t make my shortlist, here are some other API management tools which are worth considering:
- Akana - Best secure and resilient API gateway for multi-cloud deployments
- Red Hat 3scale API Management - Best for API monetization
- TIBCO Cloud API Management - Best for advanced and hybrid cloud deployments
- Axway Amplify - Best for managing APIs across vendors and environments
- Byvalue - Best API marketplace platform for monetizing and consuming APIs
- Apinizer - Best for fast and easy API design and management
- SAP Integration Suite - Best for integrating SAP and non-SAP applications
- Workato - Best intelligent automation platform for workflows, APIs, and data
Selection Criteria For API Management Tools
Here’s a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best API management tools for this article:
I shortlisted the following key functionalities that are essential for any API management platform:
- API gateway capabilities to secure traffic and set rate limits
- Scalability and performance to handle high volumes of API traffic
- Good developer experience to attract and retain developers who use your APIs
- Ability to monitor the health and performance of APIs
Based on the above functionalities, here are some key features on the basis of which I analyzed the above tools:
- API Gateway: This is the most important feature as an API gateway ensures efficient and secure communication between clients and APIs.
- Developer portal: A great API platform must have a dedicated interface that provides self-service options, documentation, code samples, and interactive API exploration tools to enhance the developer experience
- API lifecycle management: Best API management tools can manage different versions of APIs, communicate changes to developers, and ensure backward compatibility.
- API testing and debugging: The tool must have effective testing and debugging capabilities to simulate API requests, verify responses, and troubleshoot integration issues within the tool itself.
- Analytics and monitoring: A good API tool must enable administrators to track API usage, traffic trends, metrics, and error logs to monitor the health and performance of APIs.
The platform must be easy to use for developers and administrators. I have considered features like the user interface, ease of deployment, configuration options, smart developer portal, documentation, customization, and monitoring capabilities to assess the usability of each platform.
APIs often handle sensitive data. The API management tool must be able to enforce the right security and governance. I’ve considered features like support for OAuth, API key management, role-based access control, and encryption when evaluating API management tools.
API managers must simplify the integration process by providing a consistent and well-documented interface for developers to work with. A good API management tool offers native and pre-built integrations with a range of platforms.
What are the different types of APIs?
What is the difference between API gateway and API management?
What are the benefits of API management software?
I hope that this breakdown of all the top API management tools will help you make the right decision for your company. Subscribe to The CTO Club newsletter to get more detailed breakdowns and deep insights from our network of CTOs and technical leaders.