Notebook listing top 5 API integration platforms

A quick search on “the top API integration platforms for 2021” brings up so many contenders that it’s difficult to understand your options. In fact, the top API integration platforms are so distinct in features that it’s surprising they all fall under the same “API integration” category. 

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In this guide, you’ll find API integration platforms that serve as:

  • Easy-to-use, no-code workflow automation solutions (Zapier). 
  • Developer-friendly tools that speed up the process of building API connections for microservices, IT infrastructures, and automated workflows (DreamFactory). 
  • Kitchen sink solutions that service many use-cases including ESB, API integration, workflow automation, data integration, and more (MuleSoft).

So, which solution is right for your use-case? Below, we identify the top five API integration platforms for 2021 – and the key differences that set them apart. We’ll also take a look at some compelling user reviews, so you can determine which solution is best for your needs and will discuss the following:

  1. Zapier
  2. DreamFactory
  3. Dell Boomi
  4. MuleSoft
  5. Jitterbit
  6. Final Thoughts 

1. Zapier

We like to call Zapier an API integration platform on training wheels. That’s because Zapier offers basic API integration capabilities in an easy-to-use package. With its clickable, visual interface – and over 1,500 ready-to-use app integrations – the primary focus of Zapier is to help non-tech-savvy team members automate workflows between web- and cloud-based services. 

While Zapier empowers non-developers to create simple workflows (called “Zaps”) that eliminate busywork without writing any code, users are limited to working with the apps found in the Zapier portfolio. Also, users are limited to the point-and-click integration and automation features that Zapier exposes. In this respect, Zapier is not made for developers who want to build new apps and IT infrastructures. Nor is it made for creating complex or specialized workflows. 

Users should also be aware that Zapier’s click-able automations can experience glitches and bugs when managing complicated tasks. As this user points out, “I dislike the bugginess of it and the price. I would have my tracking code randomly turn off and stop tracking without any notification. So we’d have a month or two with no lead tracking for a client, which is not good.

Another point to consider is that using Zapier starts at just $24.99 per month, but it gets more expensive as your use-case expands. For upgraded features – like unlimited users, faster update time, unlimited Zaps, and premier support – the month-to-month subscription costs $373.75 or $748.75 per month.  

Here’s what users are saying about Zapier:

  • “You can develop relationships between your apps. You can define the rules and integrate them. It is really easy to use. I remember the first time that I needed to use Zapier. I was really nervous about how to use the tool; however, it only took 5 minutes to figure it out.” –Ozge Sila G.
  • “Cost is ridiculous. I burned through 750 zaps in less than two weeks just with a simple timesheet automation. It is not a cost-effective tool at $24.99. This plan also is lacking in many features.” –Keith H.
  • “As an experienced programmer, there are some tasks such as creating and writing to a spreadsheet that cannot be done together and required a workaround. Also, the logical branch task supports a limited number of levels, which was restrictive. I ended up migrating some code tasks to Google Scripts which provides a richer feature set and fewer restrictions.” –Karambir Singh K.

When should you use Zapier? When you want to empower non-developer team members to build code-free workflow automations between popular apps and services. Just make sure that the Jitterbit portfolio includes the apps and services you’re using – and make sure that your use-cases are not overly complex.  

2. DreamFactory

DreamFactory is a developer-friendly API integration platform that works like an “API Swiss army knife.” The platform offers a host of ready-made API connections so developers can rapidly integrate different apps, authentication solutions, microservices, SaaS platforms, web applications, and other systems into new and existing apps and IT infrastructures. DreamFactory also offers API lifecycle management tools. The most impressive of these is an automated REST API generation tool that creates fully-documented REST APIs in just a few minutes.

Here are DreamFactory’s most noteworthy features:

  • Prebuilt API integrations that speed up the process of connecting cloud-based apps, web-apps, IoT endpoints, and on-premise applications.
  • Features for role-based access control (RBAC) to protect how much information is shared. 
  • Capacity to design automated business logic for complex, high-volume workflows.
  • Tools to automatically generate custom, fully-documented REST APIs for apps, services, and databases in minutes. 
  • A drag-and-drop visual interface to speed up the process of building API connections and automated workflows.
  • Features for live API documentation.
  • Built for vertical and horizontal scalability to excel as a REST API backend for global web, mobile, and IoT applications.
  • Data security standards that satisfy GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, SOC, COBIT, FedRAMP, HITECH, ISO, and NIST, PIPEDA, COPPA, FERPA, and other compliance requirements.
  • Support for SFTP, SOAP, MQTT, deep SQL, and email. 
  • Support for the most popular enterprise authentication solutions, including OAuth, LDAP, Active Directory, Okta, and more. 
  • Runs in the cloud or on-premises. 

While DreamFactory offers more features, capabilities, and flexibility than Zapier (above), it’s important to remember that DreamFactory requires more technical knowledge to operate. Essentially, DreamFactory is a platform for app developers and IT specialists.

As for pricing, DreamFactory includes a free, open-source, community edition and paid tiers that unlock additional features. Depending on the paid tier you select, you can receive additional connectors for databases, enterprise API authentication services, dedicated support, custom development, advanced API monitoring, and custom training. 

Here’s what users are saying about DreamFactory:

  • “This tool … offers different benefits that differentiate it from other similar software, for example; Security is critical and indispensable for APIs, but “DreamFactory … provides users with all the essential middleware content so that they can create continuous and powerful connections between a wide number of systems, without worrying about technical or infrastructure scopes. The software allows you to attach your systems or databases to the system itself, which makes DreamFactory a fully flexible and automated function tool.” –Jun T.
  • “What do you like best? The ease of connecting relational data sources with file systems and objects, generating understandable and extraneous powerful APIs in a few clicks, coupled with ACL control and triggered script processing in internal API events, is extremely scalable, run it all on the infrastructure provider I want … With DF it was possible to envelop the legacy systems that we have, adopting a granular strategy in the migration to microservices. Centralizing access control with support for several roles for different types of users and applications was a significant milestone for us. We reduced implementation time and kept the team lean.” –Junior C.

When should you use DreamFactory? When you’re looking for a targeted solution that focuses on managing API integrations and managing them well. DreamFactory offers a wide range of pre-built integrations for the most popular apps, microservices, SaaS solutions, and enterprise authentication solutions. Its REST API generator makes creating Swaggar-documented APIs a snap. DreamFactory also helps you adhere to the most stringent data compliance standards.

3. Dell Boomi

Dell Boomi is similar to DreamFactory in that it offers a portfolio of ready-made API connectors, API lifecycle management tools, and developer-friendly features to help you integrate apps, services, microservices, and SaaS solutions into new or existing systems. An important difference between Boomi and DreamFactory is that Boomi doesn’t include an automatic API generation tool. In addition, Boomi is an ETL tool that can manage low-volume data integrations. 

Here’s what Dell Boomi offers:

  • Prebuilt API integrations that make it easier to rapidly integrate apps, SaaS solutions, and microservices into apps and IT infrastructures. 
  • Drag-and-drop tools for building and automating simple and complex workflows.
  • Support for both traditional and modern EDI standards like HC7, Tradacoms, EDIFACT, X12, RosettaNet, and XML. It also allows you to define your own communication standards. 
  • Empowers businesses to integrate legacy apps with modern, cloud-based services.
  • Support for trading partner communication with AS2, FTP/Secure FTP, and web services using HTML or SOAP.
  • Data security standards that comply with HIPAA, SOC 1 & 2, FedRAM, and PCI requirements. 
  • Activity monitoring tools. 
  • Runs in the cloud as a cloud-native platform. 

As for pricing, Boomi’s basic packages start at $549 per month. However, this basic package is not suitable for more than integrating a couple of apps. Also, it does not include a dev-test environment, parallel processing, message queuing, or advanced security. More expensive Boomi tiers include these features. 

Here’s what users are saying about Dell Boomi:

  • “We can integrate to external systems (via existing APIs), internal systems and APIs, internal resources (databases, file systems, messaging buses, web services, etc.) with Dell Boomi. Lots of built-in cloud-based systems connection API to implement the integration. The process canvas is very user-friendly.” – Rochelle A.
  • You will need to leverage Dell’s partner offering and train up Boomi experts within your organization through Dell Boomi classes … If it breaks, you will likely need help in fixing it.” –User in Computer Network & Security
  • “If you’re new to this product, initially you don’t like it due to the different approach and big fancy words like Atom and Molecule, but once you get used to it, you find it so easy and smooth. –Mohit K.

When should you use Dell Boomi? When you have a mix of API integration and data integration (ETL) use-cases. Boomi works great when handling low volume ETL pipelines. Just remember that Boomi doesn’t include an automated API generation feature like DreamFactory. Also, Boomi comes with a steep learning curve, and the platform gets a lot more expensive as your use-cases expand.

4. MuleSoft Anypoint Platform

The MuleSoft Anypoint Platform is a full-service integration platform that offers all of the features and capabilities of Zapier, Dell Boomi, DreamFactory, and more. The primary difference is that MuleSoft also includes ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) capabilities. ESBs are useful when integrating on-premises systems, monolithic applications, medical and insurance industry systems, and apps that rely on older messaging standards.

Because MuleSoft comes with so many advanced capabilities, it has become a favorite of large enterprises. However, MuleSoft is not very easy to use. Only a MuleSoft certified engineer can build ETL pipelines and “Mule applications” with the platform. This labor requirement adds to the already high cost of the platform. 

MuleSoft licensing fees start at around $80,000 per year but many firms are paying $250,000 or more. Then there are the auxiliary costs related to hosting Mulesoft and hiring and training skilled labor. These costs usually dwarf the actual licensing fees. 

For large enterprises that need Mulesoft’s ESB, data integration, and API integration services, the high price of using the platform is worth it. However, a lot of users simply need a powerful, enterprise-grade API integration platform, but don’t want to pay for all of the additional features that come with MuleSoft. For these users, a solution like Dreamfactory – that focuses on API integration only – is a lot more suitable. Even enterprises that need MuleSoft for their ESB and data integration use-cases can save a lot of time and money by delegating API integration to DreamFactory.

Here’s what reviewers are saying about MuleSoft:

  • “With the maturity of the platform, the cost is increasing so it’s starting to price out some small- to medium-size customers… For just a few simple integrations, the Anypoint Platform can be prohibitively expensive.” –Engineer in Information Tech
  • “Great but not very cheap. Mulesoft has tons of capabilities; however, where I see it’s lacking is usability, it’s tough to set-up Anypoint Studio on local machines. Though Flow Designer is an alternate to that, however, it has very limited capabilities and it’s extremely tough to build integrations there for business users. Very expensive and no pay-as-you-go model.” –Team Lead in Information Tech
  • “With the Mulesoft Anypoint Platform, the only disadvantage I found is that it is expensive.” –Faisal N.

When should you use MuleSoft? When you’re a large enterprise running a complex IT infrastructure that consists of on-premises monolithic applications – and you need to incorporate an ESB and ETL solution into your app integration strategies. Remember that MuleSoft comes with a high price tag, large auxiliary costs, and you’ll need to hire experienced MuleSoft engineers to set up and maintain the platform. 

5. Jitterbit

Jitterbit offers a mix of data integration (ETL) and API integration features along with a variety of pre-built API integrations for popular SaaS solutions, apps, and microservices. The platform also features tools for developing ETL pipelines for data integration use-cases – including the Jitterbit Cloud Data Loader (JCD) for managing Salesforce data connections. However, unlike MuleSoft, Jitterbit does not include an ESB product. 

In its capacity as an API integration platform, Jitterbit offers a visual, point and click interface and a more affordable price than MuleSoft. Jitterbit’s API integration features can ease the process of exposing ODBC or JDBC databases as APIs. Like DreamFactory (above), Jitterbit includes an automatic REST APIs generation tool. This speeds up the overall development process while saving on labor costs. 

While Jitterbit is a popular API integration platform, users frequently complain that the platform is overly complicated to use and comes with a steep learning curve. Aside from the price of hiring and training experienced Jitterbit users – and even though it is less expensive than MuleSoft – the price of using Jitterbit is high compared to more focused solutions. The higher price is largely due to Jitterbit’s additional ETL and data integration service offerings. 

Here’s what users are saying about Jitterbit:

  • “What do you like best? Literally nothing … I cannot get the studio to work on macOS, neither can their support team. The windows version frequently stumbles over itself because it doesn’t even handle files on the filesystem properly. The cloud UI is slow and bad, good luck finding any relevant information in the activities page.” –Administrator in Media Production
  • “[Jitterbit] can be a bit bulky with a lot of different features which makes it more difficult to train someone initially as part of an onboarding experience. The error messages could also provide better detail when an upload is not properly loaded.” –Verified User

When should you use Jitterbit? When you have a mix of API integration and data integration (ETL) use-cases. Jitterbit comes with an automated API generation tool like DreamFactory. The problem is that users complain about Jitterbit having a steep learning curve. Also, its additional data integration features make the platform more expensive. If you have a more focused use-case that only requires an API integration platform – and not additional app integration services – a more focused solution like DreamFactory could be a lot more cost-effective. 

Did you know you can generate a full-featured, documented, and secure REST API in minutes using DreamFactory? Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how! Our guided tour will show you how to create an API using an example MySQL database provided to you as part of the trial!

Create Your RESTful API Now

Final Thoughts on the Top 5 API Integration Platforms of 2021

Now that you’ve finished this guide to the Top 5 API integration platforms of 2021, you should have a better understanding of what’s available – and the different use-cases each of these solutions can serve. Ultimately, if you’re looking for an API integration platform that helps you dramatically decrease your time to market, we hope you’ll consider DreamFactory.

With DreamFactory’s automatic REST API generation tools, you can bypass the hassle, costs, and delays of hand-coding APIs. Furthermore, DreamFactory was built from the ground-up as a highly-scalable solution so you can manage API integrations at any scale. 

Want to try DreamFactory for yourself? Schedule a free hosted trial of the DreamFactory platform now.