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Guidelines for Selecting the Right API Gateway for API Strategy

shutterstock_264200807_350In the past couple months, we have seen rapid growth in the API business. Organizations that were stuck to traditional business models are now looking at API strategy as new source of revenue and opportunities. Most of the organizations are either looking into an API strategy or have already started planning. It’s clear that no one wants to be at the end of the race and left having to pick up the pace in today’s rapidly changing market.

API Gateway is a critical part of an API-driven business or strategy, and the success of an API-driven business is highly depend on the capabilities of an API Gateway. API Gateway is like vehicle in an API business journey of an organization; choosing right vehicle for the journey is important. Not each gateway is suitable for every situation or for specific needs of organization. Instead, the first step into an API journey for any organization is to select the right API Gateway for its need from a flooded market of API Gateways. Choosing the wrong API gateway will not only harm an API business, but it can lead to serious damage to the existing business of an organization.

“It’s better to fail early than later; otherwise it will cause more damage or losses in a long run.”

With the rise of API business there is an increase in the number of available solutions for API Management gateways. There are a number of vendors already in the market, and every year, new ones join the race to capture the API Gateway market space.

Before selecting an API Gateway, an organization must go through a self-assessment and vendor evaluations to find the best fit for their needs. It is advised that an organization that wants to jump start with API business should invest some time and amount in planning phase instead of randomly choosing any API Gateway, and that is only after thorough evaluation of vendors and its platform based on organizational needs. Once identification of organizational-specific cases is complete, there are some common use cases that an organization needs to consider for evaluation criteria.

Perficient has helped a number of customers successfully build their API strategies. With these experiences, we came across many use cases or requirements that are common for most of the organizations independent of their domain or business while selecting right API gateway for their API strategy.

Here, we share a list of some of the common use cases that can be used as a baseline for evaluation criteria:

 Vendor Potentials:

Before considering any vendor for evaluation, the following things need to be verified for the capability of the vendor solutions and market positions.  It includes:

  • Vendor Product Expertise – Expertise of vendor and its product to execute plans.
  • Maturity in the space – How mature is vendor platform in the market.
  • Market Share – Percentage of market share acquired or hold by the vendor in this product domain.
  • Vendor Size and Revenue – These are secondary factors but can be considered to check the ability and forecast of future growth of the platform.
  • Industry Leadership – Refer to reports by market analysts in the API Gateway solution domain like Gartner or Forrester reports.

Licensing Cost:

Vendor cost highly impacts the cost of building an API strategy.

  • Licensing Model – How is the licensing model split for current as well as future maintenance of the vendor platform.
  • License Price – Price of the product for first time purchase or consecutive upgrade in future.

Environment Provisioning:

  • Installation – Time and effort required for installing software on local, development, test, stage and production environments.
  • Configuration – Time and effort required for configuring software on each environments.
  • Platform Hosting Offering – Number of hosting options available by vendor. Public cloud, private cloud, hybrid installations, SAAS for gateway solutions as required by organization.

Development & Testing:

  • Overall Usability – Unified user interface, layouts, and intuitiveness, logical and integrated workflows. Does the menu bar, context menu makes sense?
  • Ease of code development – Ease of code development within IDE, ease of learning to code in IDE, clear separation of activities within technologies, visual designer
  • Logging and Debugging – Ease of developing or integrating code to log activities. Ease of debugging within development phases. Ease of debugging in deployed code.
  • Integrated testing – Ease of testing developed code within local environment. Ease of testing deployed code. How easy to create test stubs and scenarios.
  • Ease of troubleshooting – Ease of troubleshooting code within local environments. Ease of troubleshooting in deployed code.
  • Out-of-Box Integration – ease of deployment with out of box adapters without having to custom code transformation, rules. (HL7, HIPPA, PCI etc.)
  • GUI Usage and Custom Scripting – How much can be done in the UI before having to script for particular cases.

Administration & Monitoring:

  • Code Build – Ease of compiling and building code. Ease of deploying assets to different environments. Intuitiveness & automation of deployment workflow.
  • System Administration, monitoring & ease of support – Ease of setting up security, applying policies and monitoring applications once deployed. Reviewing of logs across environments and deployments.
  • System Performance – Server’s CPU and memory utilization. Response times, latency.

Reporting:

  • Report Capability & ease of use – Operational reporting. Reporting for analytics and business intelligence. Ease of use, general layout, GUI consistency and intuitiveness for report customization or integrating with external systems.

Interoperability:

Interoperability with ecosystem of products in SOA and API business like integration with ESB, RuleEngines, continuous integration and automated deployments. Integration with industry standard external IDEs.

Documentation and Customer Service:

Extent in which vendor has documented solution architecture. Detailed design docs, tutorials, sample cases.

This is the brief list of the common cases. To learn more about API Gateway evaluation strategy and practice, connect to Perficient API Practice.

If you’re just getting started with APIs and want more information, download our guide on creating an API strategy to drive digital transformation.

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