by Jeremy H
• December 2, 2020
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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