Comparing apples

Introduction

WSO2 and DreamFactory are both prevalent players in the API management market. It makes little sense to have valuable IT assets on hand if your employees and customers aren’t able to access them when they’re needed most. As such, application programming interfaces (APIs) are an essential part of digital transformation initiatives. APIs are like the dashboard, buttons, and steering wheel on your car: they help you understand what’s going on “under the hood” of a given technology and interact with it in a more human-friendly way.

Software, data, and services all need to be linked up via APIs in order to leverage benefits that are only possible in combination. However, the field of API management is often easier said than done, especially for businesses without a strong team of technical experts.

According to an IBM study, the API management software market grew by an astounding 47 percent year over year in 2018. This growing demand has sparked interest in SaaS API management such as WSO2 and DreamFactory.

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Both WSO2 and DreamFactory are API management platforms, but there are also several important points of difference between the two products. In this article, we’ll discuss DreamFactory and WSO2 and help you determine which software is right for your organization.

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What is WSO2?

WSO2 is an open-source platform that offers a variety of products for API management, including the company’s flagship solution WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). An ESB is a middleware application that distributes work among different software applications, or among the different parts of an application, by using a shared messaging protocol for exchanging information.

The most relevant WSO2 offering for this article is the WSO2 API Manager, an open-source software platform that assists enterprise developers with the task of designing and building APIs. IT market research company Forrester named WSO2 as one of the leaders in the field of API management solutions in a Q4 2018 Forrester Wave report.

What is DreamFactory?

DreamFactory is an open-source and commercial software package that provides a complete REST (Representational State Transfer) API for mobile and web applications. As an “API as a service” offering available both on-premises and in the cloud, DreamFactory offers to dramatically simplify the process of API creation and management.

REST is a lightweight stateless architectural pattern for APIs that defines how an application can send requests and receive responses using HTTP protocols such as GET and POST. Since REST APIs use HTTP and require the client and server to be independent, they are able to be used by nearly any programming language, making them a highly popular choice.

WSO2: Features and Benefits

With introductions out of the way, it’s time to delve more deeply into both WSO2 and DreamFactory. The advantages of WSO2’s API Manager include:

  • Open-source: As open-source software, WSO2 is more transparent and flexible than closed-source alternatives. The company generates revenue by offering paid support plans for enterprise users to ask questions, report bugs, and get results more quickly.
  • API publishing: WSO2 users can design APIs from scratch, or import them using definitions from the Swagger 2.0 REST API framework. The platform includes support for REST, SOAP, and WebSocket APIs. The APIs created with WSO2 can be published to both internal users and external partners and customers.
  • API management: The WSO2 platform allows you to control usage at a granular level, with either predefined subscription tiers or self-created policies. Incoming API requests can be managed according to the number of requests, the message size of the request, the client IP address, the HTTP header, and a number of other factors. Access to APIs can be restricted to only certain partners or customers, or limited to given domains and IP addresses.
  • API scalability: Users can take advantage of WSO2’s scalability features, such as separating production and sandbox traffic into different API gateways. Up to 1300 transactions per second are possible on a single node. The software’s Traffic Manager automatically enforces rate limits and dynamic throttling, based on predefined usage and bandwidth quotas.
  • API security: WSO2 API Manager offers support for API authentication (including OAuth2) and authorization. The platform has advanced security features such as threat protection and detection of bots and token fraud. 

DreamFactory: Features and Benefits

Not to be outdone, DreamFactory also provides a number of valuable benefits to its users:

  • Open-source: Like WSO2, DreamFactory is open-source software, with all the benefits that come along with it. The company also offers paid Professional and Enterprise tiers, with additional connectors, features and intimate technical support.
  • API automation: DreamFactory can transform data sources into REST APIs automatically, without the need for user intervention. That is to say it instantly creates a REST API with zero coding. The open-source version of DreamFactory includes support for API automation among some 20-odd technologies, including PostgreSQL, SQLite, Cassandra, and Redis. The paid versions add support for technologies such as MySQL, MongoDB, GraphQL, Oracle, IBM Db2, and Microsoft SQL Server as well as any number of authentication, caching, file storage and any third party APIs.
  • API customization: The open-source version of DreamFactory includes basic GitHub integration, while the commercial tiers support scripting custom REST APIs in JavaScript, Python, PHP, and Node.js.
  • API security: In order to keep your APIs secure, DreamFactory includes a number of features such as user management, role-based access control, application API keys, and JSON web tokens.
  • API management: The Professional tier of DreamFactory includes advanced features for API management, including custom and event-based logging and API rate limiting at the instance, role, user, and endpoint levels. Furthermore DreamFactory supports a Universal Connector via their HTTP connector allowing connection to any existing REST API.

WSO2 vs. DreamFactory: Making the Choice

DreamFactory and WSO2 API Manager both have a lot going for them, so how can prospective users choose between the two options?

Both WSO2 API Manager and DreamFactory have received high marks on reputable business technology review websites. DreamFactory has an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on the business software review site G2 Crowd, while WSO2 API Manager has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on the business software review site Capterra.

Reviewer James S. writes that “DreamFactory is very lightweight and fast for a full lifecycle API management tool… The API orchestration afforded by DreamFactory is also fantastic. The ability to incorporate multiple, unrelated data sources in single API calls enables us to develop some great services that would otherwise be cumbersome.”

Several users have raved about the time and effort that DreamFactory has saved them. According to reviewer Mark A., DreamFactory is the “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.”

Meanwhile, reviewer Ben N. is highly complimentary toward WSO2 API Manager: “Basic APIs are fantastic and able to be created in seconds. With a little bit of work it’s possible to develop an entire suite to a pattern that is secure and robust. The scalability also is incredible; there has been a huge amount of thought put into the solution as a whole to allow a huge TPS load with multiple tenants, all scriptable/API-driven.

However, some users complain that WSO2 API Manager can be hard for new users. Reviewer Ranjith G. writes that “the team implementing WSO2 has to go through a harsh, steep learning curve” and that the documentation “needs a complete makeover – it does not have a flow.”

DreamFactory and WSO2 are both feature-rich, mature, enterprise-class solutions for API management, and it would be hard to go wrong choosing either one. While both are excellent choices, deciding on the best option between DreamFactory and WSO2 will depend on your exact situation and use case.

If you’re looking for a more user-friendly solution, then DreamFactory will likely be preferable to WSO2. DreamFactory (unlike WSO2) also includes support for GraphQL, a REST API alternative that is growing rapidly in popularity. Finally, if having 24/7 technical support is important for your business, then only DreamFactory (and not WSO2) can offer this feature.

Want to see the benefits of DreamFactory for yourself? We offer a 14-day free trial that offers full access to the DreamFactory platform. Get in touch with our team of integration experts so you can get started with DreamFactory or schedule a product demo.