API management solutions can help businesses of all sizes develop, deploy, and manage their APIs and maximize revenue.

Organizations and developers building APIs can be overwhelmed with plenty of tasks needed to be done throughout the entire API lifecycle.

From planning and building to deployment, maintenance, and monetization; it’s challenging, especially if you do it manually.

Hence, using an API management tool, you can automate this task and leverage its flexibility and features to manage everything seamlessly.

In this article, I’ll talk about some API basics and the best API management solutions suitable for small businesses, from small to enterprises.

What Is an API?

Application Programming Interface (API) is a software solution working as an intermediary to enable two applications to interact with each other.

Modern APIs have become more useful and valuable due to some characteristics such as:

  • Adherence to standards like REST and HTTP that are easily accessible, understood widely, and developer-friendly.
  • APIs are more than just a few lines of code; these are created for specific audiences, like mobile developers.
  • These have clear documentation and versioning to fulfill users’ expectations.
  • Better governance and security plus monitoring to manage performance and scalability
  • A defined software development lifecycle

There are many API types in use these days, such as weather APIs, payment processing APIs, flight booking APIs, food ordering APIs, and much more, to ease the lives of end-users. These are built for developers to use easily in an application and extend its functionality.

Real-life example: When you open a ride-sharing app, you see a map, which can be supplied by Google Maps or any other third party. The developer of the ride-sharing app will use the map API and integrate it with the application to facilitate the map feature. Now, you can know where you are heading while on a ride.

What Is an API Management Tool?

An API management tool is a solution that helps you manage your APIs. It can also facilitate the building, deploying, monitoring, and maintaining your APIs. It has many features like a developer portal, a UI, integration, security, monitoring, multiple deployment environments, etc., to make API management easy.

You can save time and effort on managing everything smoothly. It will automate your workflow and accelerate the process of building and managing your APIs. This way, you can enjoy faster time to market and better revenue generation.

What Is the Difference Between API Management and API Gateway?

An API Gateway is a proxy server, whereas API management is a complete solution to manage APIs in production. The latter can have a variety of API Gateways working in a cluster along with a UI and additional features like a developer portal to generate API keys and facilitate sign-ups.

Now, let’s talk about some of the best API management tools.

Postman

Postman offers a collaborative platform to develop and manage APIs. Its awesome features simplify and accelerate every phase of API development while streamlining team collaboration.

Manage your API information through Postman’s CLI, web, desktop, or API interfaces. You will get wide-ranging integrations along with public APIs and governance and security services for enterprise-level deployments. It includes SSO, audit logs, dedicated IPs, and user-based access controls.

Leverage various collaboration tools and empower your team to share and work on APIs. In addition, benefit from an extensive list of services designed for API lifecycle management. You will also get core services to manage collections, API requests, and authorization.

Track and manage API versions, set up mock servers for API simulation, generate API documentation and test scripts, store historical API requests automatically, and monitor API health continuously. 

You can develop APIs at 5x speed, fix bugs 4x faster and collaborate 10x on APIs. You can even test your APIs with the help of Postman’s desktop and web client and utilize its CLI to perform collections directly.

MuleSoft

Scale and operate your API efforts and microservices efficiently with MuleSoft. It helps you secure your APIs with clear policies, group APIs, gain key insights into API programs, and manage client access. 

MuleSoft allows you to manage and unlock different services using a flexible API gateway and apply pre-made or customized security policies without downtime. You can also utilize a service mesh to govern and secure microservices no matter where they are hosted. 

Furthermore, manage asset access across teams or for individual users. This platform also helps you gain essential insights into the API’s performance, reliability, and compliance. With MuleSoft, it’s easy to unlock a service whether it’s a microservice or monolith. 

You can proxy current services, secure APIs quickly, and group your APIs to ease consumption from a single interface. Additionally, control API access and traffic by automatically enforcing custom or pre-built policies, identifying API management at runtime, and adding/removing policies for caching, API security, rate limiting, and throttling. 

MuleSoft enables you to apply policies consistently across your APIs irrespective of their specification, language, or architecture style. You will get integrated access management with this platform and can connect to Okta, OpenAM, LDAP, PingFederate, and Mulesoft’s hosted identity management solution to offer secure access to app partners, developers, and internal members. In addition, use SAML integration to handle SSO and authorize API usage via Oath 2 policies. 

It comes with a FREE trial.

Apigee

Apigee by Google Cloud lets you design, analyze, scale, and secure APIs with greater control and visibility. It offers full API lifecycle capabilities to create and scale APIs and drive API consumption with flexible portals for developers. 

You can gain actionable insights across your entire app development life cycle. Its excellent capabilities let you easily monetize your APIs and other digital assets to maximize their business value. You will get multilayer privacy and security with IAM, CMEK, Cloud Armor, and more cloud security solutions. It also provides the flexibility of data storage in any region you want. 

Apigee offers AI-powered automation to convert API data into crisp, actionable insights, detect anomalies in real-time, predict traffic patterns, and protect your APIs from bot attacks. AI monitoring also ensures your APIs are performing well and always available to deliver seamless experiences to customers, partners, and developers. 

With Apigee, it will become easier for you to expand your API’s global reach by hosting it across Google Cloud’s cloud network spread worldwide. Its cloud CDN also offers fast performance and caching, and Apigee hybrid provides the flexibility of deploying your APIs in Google Cloud, on-premises, or hybrid. 

Control and manage the runtime and position gateways close to the API traffic to leverage better security infrastructure, governance, and compliance while leveraging capabilities like developer portal, monitoring, and analytics. You get API-first integration to connect applications with existing data and release them with better accessibility. 

Moreover, its unified platform with cloud-native principles offers higher scalability, developer velocity, and faster time-to-market. You can also detect and diagnose issues quickly and apply historical data to predict behavior. Apigee complements Envoy and Istio by extending native API management into your microservices stack.

Axway

Use Axway’s API Gateway to manage, secure, and deliver your enterprise APIs. It helps you monitor and analyze your AI operations and gain valuable insights. You will get full lifecycle management from building to end-of-life.  

Control and manage APIs for governance and quality and secure them at different levels – access, data, and interface. You can also mediate your APIs to enable cross-platform compatibility. Axway also provides self-service API consumption, rapid API registration, and easy API management. 

Axway’s API Gateway is like a runtime environment with the core services like security, protocol connectivity, virtualization, elasticity, scalability, manageability, high availability, and simplicity for API development. It also encourages developers to focus on providing app logic without building all the services themselves into the app.  

Boomi

Use Boomi’s API management to design, scale, and secure APIs. You get full API lifecycle management in a hybrid environment and the option to configure APIs and integrate it with solutions effortlessly.

Centralize, test, and deploy your APIs to enforce policies and contracts using the API Gateway. It also allows you to monitor API health through usage dashboards and allows developers to engage more using the developer portal and catalog.  

You can rapidly create any endpoint and publish it in the cloud or on-premises while leveraging faster time-to-market and better developer productivity. Deliver seamless partner and customer experiences by creating apps with data aggregated from different data sources and abstract integrations easily.

Establish secure and consistent data access and API deployments on the edge, cloud, or on-premises. It also facilitates third-party access using APIs and enhances productivity across your ecosystem. You can also centralize API lifecycle management with better control and visibility to manage your web services and APIs.

You can try its FREE trial.

SnapLogic

Use SnapLogic for effortless API development and management. It empowers developers to create APIs by employing a click-not-code methodology. You can easily connect services and products using APIs to boost business value.

SnapLogic eliminates the process of creating code manually and managing APIs, and it does everything in an automated environment. It offers API lifecycle management and simplifies API operations using powerful dashboards to view response times, performance, errors, and usage.

This intelligence integration platform (IIP) of SnapLogic makes it easy to build APIs by turning complex integration pipelines that can run on-premises and in the cloud into REST APIs. In addition, these APIs can combine, transform, and shape data and let you connect different endpoints – ERP systems, databases, cloud apps, etc.

Akana

Manage your entire API lifecycle, deploy across different clouds, ensure compliance, and accelerate digital transformation in your organization with Akana. It eases the process of creating and deploying APIs and accelerates time-to-market to monetize and beat your competition.

It eliminates the hassles of configuring security policies, you can easily apply security processes and protect your business, even with 100k+ endpoints. It offers industry-leading API management, expertise, superior support, and API management services.

You get a developer portal to improve your workflow and collaboration and the option to import your existing API quickly using its graphical point-and-click editor. With Akana, it’s easy to implement and enforce security and automate it without coding. Akana’s built-in security policies help you click and configure API security, and you can apply technologies like OAuth, SSO, LDAP, SAML, and JWT. 

Akana provides full-API lifecycle management strongly embedded into your API delivery pipeline. It also helps you integrate Akana with the existing CI/CD pipeline and accelerate product delivery. It provides real-time insights to understand API performance to ensure the API is efficiently running, popular API versions, bottlenecks, and how to optimize the API to maximize revenue. 

Akana is flexible since it’s cloud-agnostic and can run on any environment, whether cloud, on-premise, or hybrid. You can instantly switch from one cloud to another and support your changing business strategy. Its API Gateway protects your data and offers a single interface and program to manage APIs. 

Furthermore, Akana supports SOAP, GraphQL, and RESTful APIs along with all types of APIs, protocols, and languages from a single place. It integrates seamlessly with other tools like AWS, GCP, JMS, and more and offers freedom and flexibility through decoupling.

Nevatech Sentinet

Get a flexible, lightweight, scalable, and robust API management and governance platform – Novatech Sentinet and address your API management requirements. It covers almost all API deployment models and management features and offers unparalleled ease of use and capabilities.

This single product has everything you require to manage your APIs and comes with an enterprise-level API repository, and supports API versioning, descriptions, lifecycle, multitenancy management, and role-based access. You will get a secure API Gateway for all your services, microservices, and APIs with unmatched support for API shape and form and run-time capabilities.

Furthermore, Nevatech Sentinet provides a developer portal that can feature custom content management and branded look for analytics and publication of your APIs. This platform facilitates exposure of APIs and internal services to customers and partners via the Sentinet DMZ Nodes or API Gateways.  

You can deploy the Sentinet infrastructure fully in the cloud and distribute it in the cloud or on-premises. In addition, this platform expands ESB architectures with greater manageability, visibility, and control of ESB exit and entry points. You can also run and deploy your components anywhere – docker containers, VMs, or servers.

Sentinet offers many features such as monitoring, security, analytics, transformation, collaboration, routing, API description and discovery, dependency tracking, SLA management, version control, alerting, change notifications, audits, testing, etc. You also get managed authorization and authentication for API calls and support for all custom and standard security models, along with advanced risk mediation scenarios and security pass-throughs. 

The solution safeguards communication between APIs and applications irrespective of integration environments like Enterprise Applications Integration, ESB, and private or public API exposure to partners. You can monitor the performance and usage of REST APIs and SOA services in real-time and build analytical and historical reports. 

Configure your monitoring metrics and their thresholds with violation alerts and SLAs, and predict performance degradations and API usage beforehand. Sentinet also allows you to filter and search message exchanges by status, date, time, business errors, API operation, consumer, etc.

Fusio

Fusio is an open-source API management solution to build, deploy, and manage REST APIs. It helps you quickly create advanced APIs, configure a developer portal for them, and monetize it easily.

You will get an intuitive and simple backend to manage and control your APIs, Its developer portal allows you to set up API programs with ease for developers to register and consume the API. Fusion has many actions to use uniquely and solve tasks such as generating APIs based on database tables, proxy an HTTP request to your internal API, etc. 

This way, you can create APIs in low code without writing complex code. It also has a Worker-System to develop actions in multiple programming languages such as Java, Python, PHP, and JavaScript. Fusion also offers an application marketplace to allow the installation of various applications for your APIs. 

Moreover, Fusio allows you to create different Plans in the backend that a user can buy at the portal and receive points to call safe API routes. In addition, you can obtain OAuth2 authorization, rate limiting, schema generation, subscription support, and SDK generation.

Conclusion

Using the best API management solution lets you streamline the development, testing, deploying, and managing of your APIs. It eliminates all the complex, manual work and gives you better visibility into your API’s status and bottlenecks, and helps you improve it.