If your organization is like many others, then you’re beginning to realize that APIs are the future of your business. They are an essential element of the digital transformation that is going on all around us. And now that we finally have a clear picture of the role APIs will play, it’s time to consider how they can be managed effectively and efficiently. The first post of this two-part series examines 5 of the best API integration tools favored by Ascendle’s custom software development team.

Ushering in a new age of API management, from traditional SOAP services to RESTful microservices, an API gateway provides a single access point for developers to consume and manage APIs across domains and solutions.

With the rise of microservices, APIs have become critical for integrating your applications with backend services. To help you choose the right product for your particular needs, we’ve put together this guide to the top API management tools in 2022. As you’ll see, each tool has its own strengths.

For example, some focus on the developer experience while others are optimized for security. Many tools also support DevOps requirements like continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) pipelines and real-time visibility into API performance.

This is the first in a series of blog posts on API management tools.

What is an API?

API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it’s how two applications communicate with each other. APIs are designed to make data more accessible, largely by making it easier and faster to retrieve.

To illustrate, if you’re using a web browser to access data from your bank’s website, that website probably has an API that allows your computer to communicate with the server where the info is stored and request the information you want. Then the server sends your computer that information in a format that can be easily understood by both parties (often XML or JSON). Your computer can then translate that info into a format you can use and display it for you.

In other words, APIs are what enable websites to work smoothly and apps to send us notifications at just the right times– whether we’re trying to check our balance or get directions from point A to point B.

What is API Management?

What is API management, and how will it impact your company?

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the building blocks of the web. They allow two pieces of software to interact with each other. With an API management platform, you can build your own APIs to connect all the applications in your organization, and share those APIs with partners.

Your business has a wealth of information that you can share with the rest of the world by using APIs. You can make your data available to everyone without giving away any of your potentially valuable intellectual property. By keeping your IP proprietary, you have greater control over what happens to the information you create and the applications you develop.

To put it simply, API management is a way for businesses to manage their APIs. An API, allows different software applications to communicate with each other. When you have an API management system in place, you can use that system to control who has access to your API and monitor how your API is used.

Why You Need an API Management Solution

APIs are the lifeblood of your business. From back-office systems to customer-facing applications, APIs are everywhere. The ability to securely connect and manage data from all of these places is what keeps your business alive.

Do you know that for every minute of downtime, your revenue drops by $5,600

API management is the most effective way to avoid this.

API management allows you to quickly and effectively scale your business by helping you keep up with the growing number of APIs and devices.

By investing in an API management solution, you can: 

  • Keep track of your APIs — no matter how many there are or how frequently they change. 
  • Easily create new APIs without overwhelming your IT team. 
  • Track whether your current APIs are working well or need some improvement. 
  • Share your APIs externally without exposing sensitive internal data. 
  • Apply security policies to protect internal data and prevent malicious attacks
  • Provide developer support with access to testing tools and sandbox environments.
  • A well-designed API management solution can change the way your business operates.

How to Choose the Right API Management Tool for You

Invariably, it can be time-consuming and intimidating to choose the right API management tool.

There’s a lot to think about:

  • What features are essential?
  • What type of support do you need?
  • Whether or not you have the skills necessary to choose.

Luckily, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. Here are several things you will want to consider before choosing an API management tool:

1. What are your specific requirements?

Suppose you’re building something brand new and don’t know where to start. But if you’re trying to integrate a particular type of service into your existing product, make sure that the API management tool you’re considering is compatible with those services. For instance, let’s say you want to incorporate an email sign-up form into your website using an API management tool. You’ll want to make sure that the email software you use is compatible with the management tool’s types of forms. Otherwise, your existing customers might not be able to sign up for your list through your website anymore.

2. What level of support do you require?

Some types of APIs may require more hands-on customer service than others. 

In addition, whether you are looking for an on-premise solution or a cloud-based one, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before making a decision.

Is this a code-first approach or a contract-first approach? Decide on what kind of first principles you want to use and make sure the tool supports that framework.

What sort of interfaces do you want with your business team? Some tools support collaboration and feedback by allowing the business team to review and comment on changes proposed by developers. If this is important to your development process, make sure your tool supports it.

Does the tool scale? If your goal is to expand and grow at an exponential rate, or if your business goals include rapid growth in the near future, then scalability becomes an important factor in choosing an API management tool.

Choosing the right API management tool is not something you want to take lightly. When your API fails, it can cost you big time: Money and reputation.

But with so many options out there, how do you know which API management tools are the best?

That’s why we have created the list below. 

5 of the Best API Integration Tools

Read on to find out which of these tools will best fit your organization’s needs.

SwaggerHub: This is an API design and documentation tool. It’s designed to reduce the effort it takes to create, document, and publish your APIs, both during initial development and long after they’ve gone into use.

Further, SwaggerHub supports the OpenAPI Specification (OAS), version 2.0, and even lets you convert API descriptions from RAML and other formats.

SwaggerHub also helps keep your API description files in sync by hosting all your APIs in one place and automatically generating SDKs for your users to download or integrate directly into their app. And if you’re already using SwaggerHub via their hosted service, simply choose a plan that suits your needs and pay as you go– no need to migrate any of your existing data. That’s why SwaggerHub is one of our top API integration tools.

3scale: This is a fast-growing SaaS company that provides an API management platform and infrastructure for developers, startups, and enterprises. The tool offers an API infrastructure service that handles API keys, rate limiting, analytics, billing payments, and developer management. It’s also designed for developers who have to deal with the complexity of exposing their services to 3rd parties, whether it’s for internal use or for a public API.

MuleSoft Anypoint: The Anypoint Platform™ is a unified, single solution for iPaaS and full lifecycle API management. It’s a robust, easy-to-maintain, cloud-based integration platform that connects enterprise systems and data sources in the cloud and on-premise– and makes the data available to all your applications and devices. You can use Anypoint to build APIs and integrations with other APIs and protocols, making your data visible and accessible in real-time.

Apigee: Founded in 2004, Apigee is a cross-cloud API platform that allows businesses to design, secure, manage, and scale APIs to power their digital businesses. The company has over 200 customers including global enterprises like Walgreens, Bechtel, eBay, Burberry, Shell, Live Nation/Ticketmaster, and First Data.

IBM API Connect: One of the best api integration tools on the market, this is a comprehensive end-to-end API lifecycle management solution that enables the automated creation of APIs, simple discovery of systems of records, self-service access for internal and third-party developers, and built-in security and governance.

API Connect provides speed and agility for developers by automating the creation of APIs with an easy-to-use graphical tooling experience. It provides flexibility and continuous delivery with automated deployment templates and a developer portal that easily integrates with your CI/CD pipeline. It also helps you scale your business through an active community of developers who can build applications on top of your APIs.

Best API Integration Tools: Key Takeaway 

The right API integration tool can help your business by improving performance, creating new revenues, developing and launching new apps more quickly, and enhancing security. At Ascendle, our experienced software development professionals are here to architect the best solution for your next custom software development project.

Stay tuned for our next installment in our series on API management tools where we’ll share more platforms and tips on configuration.

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