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API management platforms allow companies to design, publish, document, and analyze APIs in a secure environment. They are used by companies that rely on many external and internal APIs to build and manage their software products.
With the explosive growth in the number of APIs and API consumption APIs, companies are looking to leverage API management platforms to make building a web or mobile app easier. However, pricing for these products can get complicated. You must consider features, usage limitations, and other factors impacting pricing. This article will discuss the variables affecting API management platform pricing to help you select the best one for your use case.
While there are many API management platforms, we have shortlisted the best API management platforms for you. The pricing for these API management platforms varies significantly. In the next section, learn about API management platforms that offer free tier pricing options. Then, continue to learn how pricing works for non-free tiered services.
The API management platforms are priced on various factors including, but not limited to:
Now, we will learn what each of these means and how it affects the overall API Management Pricing.
API calls are the single most significant cost contributor. As the name suggests, API calls simply mean how many API calls are made during a specific period (typically a month). The higher the number of API calls, the higher the pricing.
There are different ways in which API calls can be measured. Some platforms like Apigee and Azure API offer per-call pricing, and the total pricing is determined by actual usage.
Some platforms like Apigee offer a usage range. For example, they will charge you a fixed amount for a predetermined number of API calls, and if you need more API calls, you are forced to upgrade to a higher-priced plan (it’s like a step cost per 100K API calls). Think of this as similar to most wireless mobile phone plans' data costs. Many plans offer a fixed price for up to a certain amount of data.
API management providers offer different modes of how API management platforms are deployed and used.
A quick note on API delivery modes before we jump into its impact on pricing. Both an API proxy and an API gateway provide access to your backend services.
“An API gateway can even act as a simple API proxy. However, an API gateway has a more robust set of features — especially around security and monitoring — than an API proxy.” (Source: https://www.akana.com/blog/api-proxy-vs-api-gateway)
In most cases, the pricing is not directly linked to the delivery model. Still, it is essential to note that a platform offering multiple modes will be priced slightly higher (or is undoubtedly more valuable) than a platform offering limited delivery modes.
For example, WSO2 API Cloud tends to be cheaper than Apigee because it has fewer delivery modes.
SLA stands for service level agreement between the API management provider and the client. SLA covers many aspects of service quality, but uptime is undoubtedly the most critical aspect of the service level. Uptime is measured in percentages, implying the minimum percentage of time for which service will be available.
An uptime SLA of 99%, 99.5%, and 99.9% per month means that service will be down only for 7.2 hours, 3.6 hours, and 43 minutes monthly.
The API management platform providers provide better SLAs for their higher-priced plans. So, if you have a mission-critical application, you would want the highest possible SLA and may have to commit to a more expensive plan.
In most cases, we found it impossible to choose SLA without choosing a different plan. You need to upgrade to get a better SLA. The same, of course, is not valid where platforms only offer custom pricing.
While the details are not publicly published for storage pricing, remember that storage changes depending on your chosen plan. The higher-priced plans are available with more storage.
It is interesting to note that storage can be measured not only in capacity (e.g., GB space available) but it can also be measured based on how long past data will be available to the clients. If the API reports for the APIs need to be generated, the data for that specific API, will the data window be for the last 3, 6 months, one year, etc.?
Apigee, for example, charges different pricing for different duration of analytics report availability. For example, they preserve three months of analytics data on pay-as-you-go pricing, and any calls related to analytics made beyond that period will be treated/priced as an individual API call.
The above 4 are the most critical factors determining API management platform pricing. There are many other factors, like the developer portal, the number of environments, cache storage, and compute resources, among other features.
Before we conclude the article, it is essential to note that all API management platform pricing comes with a fair use policy, especially where they offer unlimited usage of any resource. The platforms always have the right to discontinue or suspend the service if they have enough reasons to believe that there is unfair usage of the unlimited pricing policy. For example, some vendors may not charge you per number of API calls but may warn you if you’re making obscene amounts of API calls relative to the number of vCores.
We hope that you found this article helpful. If you are looking to evaluate an API management platform for your business and are concerned about pricing, please email us at [email protected], and we will be happy to guide you through it.