Tyk vs. DreamFactory: An Overview, Comparison, and Review

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Tyk vs. DreamFactory: Overview, Comparison, and Review

Tyk vs. DreamFactory, we're showing you how they compare! API gateways are becoming a necessary part of modern application development – especially for those who want to build a secure, agile, microservices-based architecture quickly and cost-effectively. API gateways are also increasingly important for connecting the apps and services that make up a cloud and hybrid-cloud IT infrastructure. 

In this guide, we’ll compare two powerful API gateways – Tyk and DreamFactory – to give you a clear picture of what they offer and how they stack up against each other. We’ll start with a brief overview of both platforms, a side-by-side feature comparison, and then we’ll focus on the distinctions that set Tyk and DreamFactory apart.

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Tyk Overview

Tyk logo for Tyk overview in Tyk vs. DreamFactory

Tyk is an open-source API gateway that launched in 2014 under the Mozilla Public License (MPL). The MPL license is less permissive than the more popular Apache 2.0 license (see comparison). Essentially, it means that Tyk places certain limitations on the way you can use the free version of its software for commercial purposes. In addition to the free, open-source version, Tyk offers multiple paid tiers that unlock access to additional features. 

Here are some general features and characteristics of Tyk:

  • Go HTTP server: Tyk is written in the Go programming language and built with the Go HTTP server. The Go HTTP server has a reputation for optimum request management and throughput.
  • Plugin and programming language flexibility: Tyk is extensible by adding premade plugins or building your own. Developers are not limited to plugins written in Golang. You can incorporate plugins written in other languages such as Python, Lua, Javascript, and use gRPC to script in Java or C. 
  • On-prem or cloud: Tyk runs on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid-cloud setup. It runs on Heroku or AWS.
  • Deployment flexibility: Deploy Tyk via Docker or Kubernetes. 
  • Paid upgrades available: Tyk’s paid tiers offer useful features, such as the management dashboard for commercial use, developer portal, and access to 24/7 support with the enterprise tier.
  • Non-commercial management dashboard: Open-source Tyk includes a visual, drag-and-drop management dashboard, but if you want to use it for commercial production you need to buy a license through one of the paid tiers.
  • Transformation layers: Tyk is limited to HTTP transformations. This may not be a problem if you don’t need to manage older and/or legacy messaging formats.
  • Monitoring and analytics: The ability to view detailed, recorded analytics like upstream latency for the different APIs under management. 
  • API developer portal: The API developer portal makes your managed APIs available to developers. You can publish API documentation to the portal with Swagger and users can test your API in a sandbox environment.
  • Rate limiting: Set up rate limits and throttling for individual APIs or globally to manage and control access to your APIs.
  • Security/Authentication: Tyk supports authentication through HMAC request signing, access tokens, Mutual TLS, JSON Web tokens, OpenID Connect, basic auth, OAuth, LDAP, and more. 

Here are two reviews from Tyk users:

“It's been great working with them and their team. I appreciate how responsive they are to feature requests and have seen a number of issues/gaps we've experienced addressed. Our integration with Tyk has been an overall positive experience.. -Alexander S. 

“The tool was built with developers in mind, but not always for backend teams who are more focused on deploying applications and less on how they work. Documentation needs some love. It feels like there are more than a few versions and types. Hard to work out what to do at any given moment. Also, it feels like I can never see what options exist in the config. No single source of what things I can do.” -Ronald U. 

DreamFactory Overview

DreamFactory Logo

DreamFactory is an open-source API gateway released under the Apache 2.0 license. This license is more permissive than the MPL license that underwrites Tyk. Originally founded in 2005, DreamFactory launched the third generation of its platform in 2019 (DreamFactory 3.0). As an API gateway, the latest iteration of DreamFactory offers cutting-edge features that you won’t find in other platforms – most notably, the capacity to automatically generate fully-documented, custom REST API. 

In addition to its free, open-source version, Dreamfactory has three paid tiers for more advanced features.

Here are the general features/characteristics of the DreamFactory API gateway:

  • Automatic REST API generation: DreamFactory’s API creation tools can automatically generate REST API (with full Swagger documentation) for any database, web service, or SOAP service in minutes – not the weeks it normally takes. This bypasses the time-intensive job of hand-coding APIs.
  • Laravel framework and PHP: Designed with the Laravel framework and PHP, DreamFactory is set up as a LAMP stack.
  • Horizontal and vertical scaling: You can scale the open-source and other versions of DreamFactory vertically by adding more processors and horizontally using the underlying web server, a load balancer, and a caching layer.
  • Programming language flexibility: DreamFactory is compatible with the scripting languages NodeJS, V8JS, PHP, and Python for adding custom business logic as required.
  • Platform flexibility: Install open-source DreamFactory on any operating system (Linux, Windows, or Mac).
  • Deployment flexibility: Deploy DreamFactory via Kubernetes, Docker, Bitnami, or from GitHub directly.
  • Monitoring and analytics: DreamFactory makes advanced monitoring and analytics available through its Logstash connector.
  • Transformations: Flexible to transform responses based on the client’s need (whether it’s XML, HTTP, JSON, etc.). This makes DreamFactory compatible with older and legacy systems.
  • On-prem or cloud: DreamFactory runs on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid-cloud setup. DreamFactory can run on top of all cloud-service providers, including Heroku, AWS, etc.
  • Security and authentication: Quickly and easily integrates with your existing security controls (such as Active Directory, LDAP, OAuth, and more). This eliminates the need for re-implementation and testing security and authentication for every API your system interacts with.
  • Free management dashboard for commercial use: DreamFactory’s open-source version includes a visual, drag-and-drop management dashboard that you can use for both commercial and non-commercial production. 

The free version of Dreamfactory offers some impressive capabilities that Tyk’s open-source version does not include. First, open-source DreamFactory features automatic API generation technology, which no version of Tyk offers. Also, open-source DreamFactory includes a management dashboard that you’re free to use for commercial projects under the more permissive Adobe 2.0 license. Tyk requires a paid upgrade for commercial access to the dashboard. 

Open-source DreamFactoy’s horizontal scaling abilities – by using the underlying web server, a load balancer, and a caching layer – are also impressive.

DreamFactory scaling diagram.

Here’s what reviewers say about DreamFactory:

“The open source is free and functions just like commercial versions. Try it out! ... We have delivered our SOAP to REST project to onboard a large customer over 2 months early and integrated our new database, MemSQL, weeks ahead of schedule. We have also, I would say, started to achieve real productivity gains through having all our data within reach through a single interface … I dislike that we didn't find DreamFactory earlier!” -Mark A.

“We implemented Dreamfactory to integrate Salesforce with an ERP software that didn't have an API, constrained by a limited budget which didn't allow us to go for a more complex middleware. The solution allowed us to quickly send and retrieve records from the ERP, and run processes using SQL stored procedures which gave us a bit of a headache at the beginning because of lack of full support.” -Verified Reviewer on Capterra

Now that we’ve seen a general overview of Tyk and DreamFactory, let’s look at several of the most important differences between these API gateways. 

Side-by-Side Comparison: Tyk vs. DreamFactory

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Tyk and DreamFactory:

Products Tyk DreamFactory
Type of Open Source Apache 2.0 Apache 2.0
Underlying Technology Golang Laravel framework and PHP 
Deployment Single node deployment unless you upgrade Tyk’s paid tier with this capacity. Flexible to deploy as multiple nodes. The only requirement is that all instances share the same system database and cache.
Databases Redis and MongoDB as system databases.  PostgreSQL, SQL Server, MySQL, or SQLite as your system database. DreamFactory also includes connections to many SQL and NoSQL databases.
On-Prem vs. Cloud On-Prem, Cloud, Hybrid-Cloud On-prem, Cloud, Hybrid-Cloud
Community A community of approx. 1,100 members with a medium amount of activity. A highly active community of approx. 2,000 members and growing.
Authorization and API Keys Available?  Access tokens, Mutual TLS, HMAC request signing, JSON Web tokens, basic auth, OAuth, OpenID Connect, LDAP, and more User Management, Active Directory, SSO Authentication, JSON Web Tokens (JWT), CORS, Role-Based Access Control on API endpoints, record-level permissions on data, OAuth, LDAP, SAML integration, and more
Rate-Limiting Features Several types of rate-limiting available. API rate-limiting at multiple levels (instance, role, user, and endpoint)
Transformations HTTP Will transform responses according to the client’s need XML, HTTP, JSON, etc.)
Native GUI? Native GUI is only free for non-commercial use. A license is necessary to use it in commercial production. The native GUI is available in the free version for both commercial and non-commercial use.
Built-in Monitoring? Only Kong Enterprise Version  Only DreamFactory Enterprise Version
Custom Scripting Golang. It also offers interpreters for running plugins in other languages such as Javascript and Lua. NodeJS, V8JS, PHP, and Python
Automatic REST API Generation No Yes

Paid Tiers

Let's take a deeper look at price tiers for Tyk vs. DreamFactory. Both Tyk and DreamFactory offer paid tiers for additional out-of-the-box features. 

Tyk Paid Tier Features

When it comes to commercial production, the paid tiers of Tyk are required because they unlock necessary features of the platform – like a management dashboard that you can use for commercial purposes and the ability to spin up additional nodes. 

Here’s how one user describes Tyk’s free version versus the paid tiers:

“This looks to me much like the business model known as Open Core, inasmuch as the core of the product, the [Tyk] gateway, is genuinely free software, but the shiny bits around the outside, the bits that help you manage hundreds of these things in deployment, are non-free (though I note that they are zero-cost in limited form to developers, presumably to help them bring it into an organisation and convince management that it's worth paying for the non-free stuff).” -Madhatter

Tyk offers three paid: SaaS, On-Premises, and Enterprise. The most affordable tier from Tyk (SaaS) unlocks the Tyk management dashboard for use in commercial projects and for SaaS/cloud deployment. The next level up (On-Premises) allows you to install the platform anywhere (such as on-premises or cloud) and unlocks access to better analytics, a developer portal, and the ability to deploy Tyk nodes with Docker, Kubernetes, or AWS AMI. Finally, Tyk’s most expensive tier (Enterprise) unlocks greater capabilities, like auto-scaling and optimization for containers, optimization for container orchestration, and access to 24/7 phone support.

Depending on which tier and service level commitment you choose, Tyk can achieve between 99.5% and 99.9% uptime. Tyk doesn’t disclose pricing information, so you’ll need to contact a sales representative for base fees.

When you’re just managing a handful of microservices in a non-commercial capacity, the open-source version of Tyk is fine. However, if you need to scale beyond a dozen microservices (want higher failure tolerance), you’ll want to spin up new Tyk nodes and connect them to the same database. Open-source Tyk restricts your ability to spin up new instances, so at this point, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid tier. 

Tyk recommends adding a new node and processing cores after the CPU load hits 60-70%. 

This user upgraded to Tyk’s paid tier and found the price “quite high”:

“We started with the free plan and later upgraded to the pro plan. The tier definitions have changed and the prices are now quite high for our scenario.” -Peter K. 

Compared to DreamFactory, Tyk users face more pressure to upgrade to the paid tiers if they want to achieve their business goals with the platform – especially if you want to use the management dashboard for commercial reasons and spin up additional instances. While this means you’ll be spending more than “free” to use Tyk, pricing does not exceed the norm, and the platform has a stellar reputation for quality, ease of use, and support.

DreamFactory Paid Tier Features

Many commercial users stick with the free version of DreamFactory because it gives them full access to the management dashboard, automatic API generation capabilities, and the ability to scale horizontally by spinning up new nodes – capabilities that aren’t possible with open-source Tyk). That being said, upgrading to one of DreamFactory’s paid tiers offers important perks for businesses with large API infrastructures. These perks include access to a larger library of connectors, onsite training and configuration, unlimited user support, and other benefits.

The next levels up (Professional and Enterprise) offer more features for building, developing, securing, managing, and monitoring a global API infrastructure. These features include:  

  • Advanced rate limiting at the instance, user, role, and endpoint levels 
  • Compliance features to ensure your data adheres to HIPAA, GDPR, PCI, and other standards
  • Onsite training and onsite configuration
  • On-premises or hosted deployment
  • Advanced API monitoring via the Logstash connector, which interfaces with the ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana) or with other analytics/monitoring services
  • Custom development from the DreamFactory team
  • More connectors for additional services and features
  • Unlimited integrations
  • Static IPs
  • Automatic backup tools
  • Unlimited access to user support by phone, email, and chat

Here’s what users say about DreamFactory paid tiers:

“Support has been fantastic! Erik, one of the engineers there, has been notably excellent.” -Mark A.

“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.

Read about enterprises that solved their API integration challenges with DreamFactory here.

Automatic REST API Generation

How does Tyk vs. DreamFactory hold up in regards to API generation? DreamFactory’s unique capacity to automatically create fully-documented REST API for any source or database in minutes is a defining feature that sets it apart from Tyk.

Tyk REST API Generation

Tyk allows you to mount pre-built APIs, but when it comes to API generation tools, Tyk cannot automatically generate REST APIs. If you don’t already have a REST API for the service you wish to integrate, Tyk requires you to code one by hand. Since it takes about three weeks to hand-code a basic REST API, this adds considerable time and labor costs to your projects.

DreamFactory REST API Generation

DreamFactory is the only API gateway that automatically generates REST API. With DreamFactory’s graphical user interface, developers can instantly generate full Swagger-documented REST API from any SOAP service, database, data source, HTTP service, and more. This feature is free for commercial and non-commercial use in DreamFactory’s open-source version.

Here is a view of the DreamFactory dashboard automatically generating REST API for Salesforce with full Swagger documentation. This took approximately six minutes:

DreamFactory REST API Generation

Bypassing the need to code REST APIs speeds up app development and app integrations dramatically. This frees up developers to spend more time on app development and creating better user experiences, saves on labor costs, and allows you to achieve a faster time to market.

Here’s how users describe DreamFactory’s automatic REST API generation capabilities:

"DreamFactory REST API in seconds? Yeah, that's true!! Live documentation of REST API's is a pain for developers. DreamFactory solved this using Swagger-UI. This is the most interesting and lovable thing done by DreamFactory.” -Nagarjuna Y.

“APIs are built for you and not just any APIs. Fully documented, fully secured (OAuth, LDAP, Active Directory, SAML Integration...) and accessible through a 3rd party client.” -Steve W.

“We are a logistics company that leverages technology to stay ahead of the competition. We used to develop applications from scratch and it used to take a lot of time. But after using DreamFactory the work became extremely simple and APIs could be developed in just almost no time. It helped us move ahead especially with online forms filing work and saved a lot of fines for the organization.” -Astha S.

“Fastest and easiest API Management tool my department has ever used. We used DreamFactory to build the REST APIs we needed for a series of projects and were able to save tens of thousands on the developer hours it would have taken otherwise.” -Mark A.

Management Dashboards: Tyk vs. DreamFactory

Tyk and DreamFactory both offer user-friendly management dashboards. The difference is that Tyk requires you to upgrade to a paid version when using the dashboard for commercial purposes. DreamFactory’s open-source dashboard is free to use in commercial production.

Tyk Management Dashboard

Here’s a screenshot of Tyk’s Management dashboard:

 Tyk Management Dashboard

Image Source: Tyk Youtube Channel

Here are references to the Tyk dashboard in user reviews:

“From a cost and functionality standpoint, Tyk was an easy choice and seems suited to many different deployment environments. The UI and dashboard is beautiful and easy to use/navigate.” -Peter K.

“There are a lot of parts and pieces to Tyk. I understand the need to break things apart, but still to this day we haven't gotten Active Directory logs for the dashboard working.” -Ronald U.

DreamFactory Management Dashboard: Tyk vs. DreamFactory

Similar to Tyk, DreamFactory’s free and open-source version offers a drag-and-drop management dashboard for setting up and monitoring integrations on the platform. The difference is that DreamFacotry’s free dashboard is open for commercial use. 

Here’s a view of the DreamFactory dashboard in action:

Here’s what users say about the UI for DreamFactory’s dashboard:

“It's a pretty intuitive UI, so all of our team members have been able to get up and running pretty quickly.” -Dylan S., CEO

“The UI is also very easy and made our particular use case involving turning SOAP services to REST a dream. Once we configured server-side scripting, it completed our SOAP to REST translation automatically for us.” -Mark A.

Final Thoughts on Tyk vs. DreamFactory

When looking at Tyk vs. DreamFactory it's important to note that as typical API gateway platform, we’re satisfied with Tyk’s quality, ease-of-use, UI presentation, customer service, flexible support for different scripting languages, and general capabilities for app development and IT infrastructure connections. If you’re willing to commit to one of Tyk’s paid tiers, this is an excellent API gateway. 

At the same time, DreamFactory offers distinct and noteworthy advantages over Tyk that you may want to consider before choosing between the platforms:

  • Free multiple-node deployment: DreamFactory’s LAMP stack and open-source Apache 2.0 license mean that you can easily scale the free version both vertically (by adding more processors) and horizontally by spinning up new nodes and managing them with a load balancer. Tyk is limited to single-node deployment unless you upgrade to the paid tier. 
  • Automatic REST API generation: DreamFactory’s unique ability to automatically generate fully-documented REST API for any database, data source, HTTP service, or SOAP service is a defining benefit that sets it apart. This feature can eliminate weeks of API development time for every API your system interacts with. Tyk doesn’t offer this technology.
  • Free management dashboard for commercial use: The ability to use DreamFactory’s management dashboard in commercial production means that you can start using DreamFactory for your projects now, without any financial commitment. Tyk lets you play with its dashboard to see how it works, but using it commercially requires a paid tier commitment.
  • More transformation layers: Tyk only offers an HTTP transformation layer. DreamFactory includes transformation layers for dealing with older and legacy messaging formats (whether it’s HTTP, XML, JSON, etc.). This could be an essential feature depending on your use case.

The above advantages of DreamFactory make it a compelling choice for businesses and development teams – especially because DreamFactory could save you tens of thousands of developer hours and help you dramatically improve your time to market. 

Click here for a free, hosted trial of DreamFactory. No credit card required!