{APIs}, where to start – Navigating the API platforms maze …

Everyone in both private and public sectors are jumping on the API bandwagon for a good reason. Are you? You definitely should. APIs are a channel to new customers and markets. I would like to get you started and provide pointers; however, the API platform selection will be yours. I know what you are thinking: “Where to start? How will I do it? Can I do it?”. I know it’s overwhelming, at least it is for me as I go through the APIs learning and discovery exercise.

As with many things in our lives, there are multiple routes one may take in order to get their own APIs up and running. On a very high level, when it comes to API Management Platform, I see three routes you may take: utilize commercial API service providers,  use one of the open source API projects or do it yourself (DYI).

I will leave the “DIY” route out of this discussion and concentrate on the other two options mentioned above. I am pretty sure that the list below is much bigger. I would love to hear about other relevant API Management Platforms in this space.

I. API Service Providers
There are many players in this space, some older than others, some being born as I write this. This is by no means the most comprehensive and complete list. As I learn more, I will add more.

1. Apigee, http://apigee.com
Offers a free developer plan and paid enterprise plan. Enterprise paid plan includes toolset to manage APIs, perform APIs analytics and gateway services, enable developers to build apps etc. In addition, Apigee offers a free plan for utilizing the full Apigee API platform with up to 25GB for storage, no SLAs, single developer portal, and PCI and HIPAA compliance.
See the detailed difference between the two plans: http://apigee.com/about/pricing

2. Mashery, http://www.mashery.com/
Breaking News of the press: Intel acquired Mashery … Well, let’s see what that will mean! There has to be a reason why Intel paid $180 million for this company. Let’s focus on APIs though. I can see that Mashery provides a very comprehensive API management solution – details can be checked out here:http://www.mashery.com/product/features/partner-portal
I don’t see that there is a developer version to get the feel of this platform. “Big guys” such as Best Buy, New York Times, and The Guardian are using the Mashery platform. My best guess is that Mashery is a good platform, but you need to have deep pockets to start using it.

3. Apiphany, http://apiphany.com/
Another player in the API Platform management space. Offers simple, pay-as-you-go, SaaS subscription model. No developer plan offered, so I could not try out this platform. I did not have the opportunity to read Apiphany’s documentation, but their offering seems promising and they are already in production with a number a clients.

4. 3Scale, http://www.3scale.net/
Offers a very comprehensive API management solution for deploying and managing an API developer and partner portal, management of access, control, security, robust policy management, analytics and reporting. 3Scale offers an Enterprise and a Free version. A Feature comparison can be found here:http://www.3scale.net/pricing/compare-features/
I have tried this platform – seems to be user friendly with an option to integrate your application via plugins for various languages or direct connection.

5. Layer 7, http://www.layer7tech.com/
Layer 7 provides SOA Governance, API Management, Gateways, Proxies for deployment on-premise and in the cloud. Layer 7 delivers secure solutions for the enterprise and government with customers like Dell, IBM, US Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration.
http://www.layer7tech.com/products/products-overview
Layer 7 just launched the lighter platform version called Apify, http://www.apify.co/. Have not tried this platform, but it may be worth trying – free during the current BETA release.

II. API Open Source Choices

1. Django-Locksmith, https://github.com/sunlightlabs/django-locksmith
This is a project started by the Sunlight Foundation – seems to be capable of doing many things in the API arena. Did not try it out, but on the surface looks like a bit of technical competency is needed to get started with this tool. Django-locksmith provides a few Django applications, locksmith.hub, locksmith.auth, and locksmith.mongoauth.

2. WSO2 API Manager, http://wso2.com/products/api-manager/
WSO2 API Manager is a complete solution for publishing APIs, creating and managing a developer community and for scalably routing API traffic. It leverages proven, production-ready, integration, security and governance components from the WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus, WSO2 Identity Server, and WSO2 Governance Registry. In addition, as it is also powered by the WSO2 Business Activity Monitor, the WSO2 API Manager is ready for massively scalable deployment immediately. This is the platform that I would like to try… If you have tried it already or have some advice, send me your thoughts. Feels like very promising tool, not sure about the ease of install and setup.

III. Manage APIs by yourself
Be your own boss. Do it yourself, learn a lot, invest a lot of your time by implementing your own API management platform.

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