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API gateway comparison

Kong vs. Mulesoft

Are you finding it challenging to choose a vendor for your API gateway, and are you struggling to make a decision? Our team of experts has conducted a comprehensive analysis and we are here to assist you in finding the best API gateway that suits your needs.

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Mulesoft Anypoint Flex Gateway
Relatively low
200% QPS compared to Kong
93x faster than Kong
Limits most plugins to enterprise version
Limited policies available
100+ open-source plugins
Plugin upgrade hot reloading
Custom development
Supports custom development in multiple languages Lua, Go, Python, Ruby, Javascript and Wasm
Supports custom policy development in Rust Wasm SDKs
Supports custom development in the most multiple languages Lua, Wasm, Go, JavaScript, Python, Node.js, Java, etc.
Deployment methods
On-prem, any cloud, multi-cloud, hybrid cloud
CloudHub, Anypoint private cloud, hybrid cloud
On-prem, any cloud, multi-cloud, hybrid cloud
Vendor lock-in
The open-source project is under the control of Kong Inc. and the license can be changed
High vendor lock-in, given its integration within the broader MuleSoft ecosystem
Open source, donated to the Apache Software Foundation; never worry about vendor lock-in
User support
Have commercial support but limited availability of open-source assistance
Limited community-driven support and delayed issue resolution
Active community and issues can be resolved in time on Slack and GitHub

What to consider most when choosing the API gateway

1. Performance

Kong is engineered to manage significant request traffic with minimal latency. However, its performance can decline when dealing with over a thousand routes in the gateway due to its traversal search routing approach. On the other hand, MuleSoft Anypoint Flex Gateway has relatively low QPS and lacks support for SOAP APIs, restricting it to HTTP and REST protocols.

In comparison, Apache APISIX surpasses both in terms of performance. A comparison between APISIX 3.0 and Kong 3.0 analysis reveals that APISIX 3.0 performs approximately 140% better than Kong 3.0 when plugins are not used. When plugins are utilized, APISIX 3.0 outperforms Kong 3.0 by around 200%.

APISIX is built on top of NGINX and LuaJIT, resulting in exceptional performance, scalability, and flexibility. It boasts a single-core QPS (Queries Per Second) of 23,000 with an average delay of only 0.2 milliseconds and as an open-source API gateway, it excels in delivering outstanding performance.

2. Features and Plugins

Kong adopts a community-driven approach and offers a diverse array of plugins, but several of these advanced features and plugins are exclusively available in the Enterprise Edition. In contrast, APISIX surpasses Kong in capabilities, supporting essential functionalities such as plugin ordering, robust WebSocket and OpenID Connect support, and compliance with FIPS 140-2, features not readily found in Kong's open-source version. While MuleSoft Anypoint Flex Gateway provides a framework for crafting custom policies to address specific use cases, the options for extending functionality lack broader language support, hindering the development of custom features.

On the other hand, APISIX distinguishes itself by delivering a comprehensive set of features and plugins tailored for cloud-native applications, microservices, and containerization. These include dynamic routing, hot reloading, canary release, rate limiting, and service observability. With an active and dedicated community, APISIX ensures ongoing development and maintenance of its plugins, providing users with the flexibility to customize their API gateway to meet specific requirements. This flexibility, coupled with extensive plugin support, positions APISIX as a compelling choice for organizations seeking advanced API management capabilities.

3. Vendor Lock-in

MuleSoft Anypoint Flex Gateway is strongly integrated within the broader MuleSoft ecosystem, creating a tight bond with MuleSoft-specific technologies and making it challenging for users to explore alternatives or migrate to different platforms. Conversely, Kong, despite presenting a self-hosted open-source solution, raises potential concerns due to its ownership by a company. This ownership structure leaves room for changes in licensing or a shift to a closed-source model, creating the possibility of vendor lock-in.

Apache APISIX, an open-source API gateway owned by the Apache Software Foundation and licensed under the Apache 2.0 License distinguishes itself by offering a vendor-agnostic solution. APISIX's open-source nature empowers organizations with the flexibility to customize and adapt without being tied to a specific vendor. With a focus on community-driven development, APISIX stands out as an option that mitigates the potential downsides of vendor lock-in, providing users with a more adaptable and open API gateway solution.

4. Ecosystem and Growth

MuleSoft Anypoint Flex Gateway, a recent addition to the MuleSoft's offerings, faces challenges with a smaller community, leading to delays in issue resolution. On the other hand, the open-source version of Kong presents a mature and a larger community, but it doesn't provide the same level of support and maintenance as the Enterprise version. This means that it takes longer to resolve issues and challenges when using Kong.

In contrast, Apache APISIX has maintained an excellent growth rate from the first day and is growing rapidly at a rate close to twice that of Kong. It has more contributors than Kong, indicating its popularity. This active community involvement not only shows the widespread adoption of Apache APISIX but also reflects the collective effort to drive its development and continuous improvement.

5. Customer Satisfaction

MuleSoft is deemed inflexible and lacking consumption-based elasticity. Users also express concerns about the relatively high pricing associated with MuleSoft, potentially limiting its accessibility to organizations with budget constraints. In the case of Kong, its licensing model includes an Enterprise Edition that provides additional features and support. However, this separation of functionality between the open-source and Enterprise Editions leads to customer dissatisfaction, especially if desired features are only available in the paid version.

In sharp contrast, Apache APISIX, an open-source API Gateway, offers a comprehensive set of features and capabilities for users to access without additional costs or restrictions.

The open-source nature of APISIX encourages active contributions from a diverse community of developers, leading to continuous improvements, bug fixes, and new features, ensuring that APISIX remains up-to-date and responsive to the evolving needs of users. APISIX has also gained significant popularity and adoption among renowned companies such as Amber Group, Airwallex, zoom, vivo, iQIYI, and others, serving as a testament to its reliability and effectiveness in real-world applications.

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