API Management has become a key enabler of digital transformations and the API Gateway, one of its fundamental components, has taken center stage. There are many API management vendors in the market offering different sets of features and capabilities as well as different approaches to an API Gateway, e.g. software-only gateway, software appliance gateway, hardware gateway, single runtime for gateway and integration execution, etc. Selecting an API management solution must take into account the strengths and weaknesses of its API Gateway.
In the last couple of years, IBM has been making great strides in the development of its API management offering, IBM API Connect. Analysts have acknowledged the pace of innovation within IBM API Connect resulting in IBM gaining the second position in API Management 2015 market share as reported by IDC. API management competitors are growing concerned and becoming worried about IBM progress in this field and some of them have launched marketing campaigns targeted at IBM API Gateway, IBM DataPower Gateway. One of these vendors is Axway.
Axway offers “Axway API Management Plus” as their API management offering and their “Axway API Gateway” is included as part of this product bundle. On their website, they have a page that positions Axway API Gateway in IBM DataPower environments. Although the title of the page suggests that Axway API Gateway could co-exist with IBM DataPower Gateway, its true intent is to convince the reader that their gateway is better than IBM by listing misleading claims about IBM DataPower Gateway. Some of the most blatant claims are:
- “IBM requiring customers to purchase the latest versions of the IBM hardware or, more recently, the Virtual Edition.” First, IBM does not force any customer to upgrade to the latest version of hardware. Second, hardware has, on average, a 7-year life cycle, so no matter who you purchase your appliance from, you will eventually have to refresh it. DataPower firmware patches require no upgrade of the hardware. New hardware models are released every 3 to 4 years giving you plenty of overlap to upgrade. The cost to migrate to the new hardware averages less than if you were replacing your data center servers every 5 years or so. In addition, other factors, beyond pricing, also need to be considered when comparing a DataPower gateway with Axway’s, such as productivity and performance gains, ease of use and maintenance gains, and renewal discounts. Lastly, DataPower Virtual Edition upgrades are covered by IBM Subscription & Support so there’s no need to purchase latest versions.
- “DataPower is built for XML processing. The new world of cloud and mobility is built on JSON and REST, not XML or SOAP.” DataPower continues to evolve and already supports standards that our customers are adopting, such as JSON and REST.
The above points set the record straight as to some of Axway’s claims against DataPower. However, if you are comparing gateways, there are many other capabilities that you should consider, from the API Gateway perspective, some of which are described below.
IBM continues to heavily invest in IBM DataPower Gateway by adding features, such as network Hardware Security Module (HSM), SoftLayer, Amazon, Azure, x86 Linux and Docker support, and more recently, the modernization of its user experience. IBM DataPower Gateway can run anywhere and in its physical form factor, it is truly an appliance in that its signed and encrypted gateway stack runs on firmware. On the other hand, Axway API Gateway appliance form factor is their gateway software running on Linux inside an Intel server. In fact, the physical version of the Axway API Gateway falls into a category called “software appliance.”
Here is a table comparing some high-level features between IBM and Axway:
| IBM DataPower Gateway
|| Axway Gateway
|Virtual form factor|
|Cloud form factor|
|Docker form factor||Yes||no|
|IBM PureSystems pattern||Yes||no|
|SoftLayer form factor||Yes||no|
|No database setup needed||Yes||no|
|Modern browser-based UI for authoring policies||Yes||no|
Lastly, analysts also agree that IBM DataPower Gateway is a better API gateway when it comes to security features as described by the November 14, 2016 “The Forrester Wave™: API Management Solutions, Q4 2016” ranked IBM as a Leader above Axway, which was ranked as a Strong Performer. Furthermore, recent analyst reports have ranked IBM as a Leader in API Management.
IBM DataPower Gateway is the most trusted, reliable, and secure gateway in the market with thousands of customers enjoying its benefits worldwide. Please reach out to your IBM sales contact for further information or learn more on the IBM DataPower Gateway developer page at https://developer.ibm.com/datapower/.
To obtain a free evaluation copy of IBM DataPower Gateway, please go to http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/datapower-gateway. And, to obtain a free evaluation copy of IBM API Connect, please refer to http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/api-connect.
 “IDC Market Share: Worldwide API Management Market Shares, 2015: Year of Consolidation”, September 2016