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Choosing the Right API Gateway: Pricing Models for Amazon API Gateway, Apigee, Kong, and Apache APISIX

In today's digital era, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) serve as the foundation of modern applications, facilitating seamless communication and data exchange. However, efficiently managing these APIs necessitates a robust tool: API gateway. Serving as a central hub, API gateways route requests, enforce security measures, and optimize performance for all backend APIs.

Cost is a critical factor in any technology. For FinOps practitioners, adept in cloud financial management optimization, selecting the right API gateway entails balancing functionality and budget. This article delves into the pricing models of four prominent API gateway solutions: Amazon API Gateway, Apigee, Kong, and APISIX. We'll dissect their pricing structures, free tier offerings, and essential cost factors to aid developers in navigating the financial landscape and choosing the most cost-effective API gateway for their requirements.

Understanding API Gateway Pricing Models

Before examining each provider's specifics, let's establish a foundational understanding of API gateway pricing models. Typically, these models revolve around factors directly tied to API usage. Key concepts include:

  • Pay-per-Use vs. Subscription: While some API gateways operate on a pay-per-use model like Amazon API Gateway, others, such as Apigee, employ subscription models with tiered functionalities and request volumes.

  • Throttling Limits: To maintain operational stability and prevent misuse, most providers implement throttling limits, restricting the volume of requests an API can process per second or within a designated timeframe. Breaching these thresholds could result in supplementary charges.

  • Data Transfer Costs: Keep a keen eye on data transfer expenses, particularly in cloud-based solutions, as they could be incurred based on the volume of data flowing through the API gateway.

A firm grasp of these fundamental principles will empower you to thoroughly assess the nuanced pricing models presented by each API gateway provider in the subsequent sections. Moreover, it's imperative to factor in the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) when deliberating your choices. TCO extends beyond the initial price tag to encompass support expenses, potential resource consumption (especially for self-managed deployments), and any concealed charges linked with the service.


Deep Dive into Individual Pricing Structures

After thoroughly understanding the basic framework of API gateway pricing, let's delve into the specific pricing details of each selected vendor.

Amazon API Gateway

  • Pricing Model: Pay-per-use. You're charged based on the number of API requests received and the amount of data transferred out.

  • Free Tier: Amazon API Gateway provides a versatile pricing structure comprising three tiers: Free, Standard, and Usage. The Free tier grants access to one million API calls monthly for up to 12 months, thereafter transitioning to a usage-based billing model determined by API call volume and data transfer. Starting at $1.00 per million API calls, the Standard tier extends advanced functionalities such as custom domain integration, SSL/TLS certification, and Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) support. The Usage tier caters to high-traffic APIs with tiered pricing commencing at $0.90 per million API calls.

  • Key Cost Factors:

    • Number of Requests: The primary cost driver is the volume of API requests you receive. Costs increase incrementally based on tiers (e.g., first 1 million requests free, next tier priced per million requests).
    • Data Transfer Out: Data transferred out of the gateway incurs charges, but there are no charges for private APIs. Consider integrating with other AWS services for potential cost savings.
    • Throttling Limits: Free tier limitations apply (throttling limits may be lower than in paid plans). Upgrading to paid plans offers increased throttling limits for handling higher traffic volumes.
  • Additional Considerations:

    • Reserved Instances: For predictable workloads, reserving instances can offer significant cost savings compared to on-demand pricing.
    • Integration with AWS Services: Utilizing other AWS services alongside API Gateway can lead to cost optimizations through bundled pricing or service-specific discounts.
    • Cost of Vendor Lock-in: If you need to consider deploying API gateways in multi-cloud and hybrid clouds in the future, then the costs of vendor lock-in and migration need to be considered. For infrastructure like API Gateway, we certainly don't want frequent changes and migrations.


  • Pricing Model: The service operates on a subscription model with multiple tiers (Standard, Enterprise, Enterprise Plus), each tailored to specific needs and offering distinct features alongside allocated API request volumes. For instance, the Standard tier encompasses 1.25 billion standard API proxy calls and 250 million extensible API calls. Pricing stands at $20 per million for standard API proxy calls and $100 per million for extensible API calls. While our offering may be deemed costly, it delivers unparalleled functionality, albeit at a premium compared to Amazon API Gateway.

  • Free Tier: A limited free tier may be available, but it typically includes restricted functionality and a low request quota.

  • Key Cost Factors:

    • Subscription Tier: The chosen subscription tier significantly impacts cost. Higher tiers offer more features, increased request volumes, and potentially advanced security or analytics capabilities (which may incur additional charges).
    • Additional Features: For instance, API Analytics costs $20 per 1 million API calls, while Advanced API Security is priced at $350 per 1 million API calls.
    • Traffic Volume: If your usage surpasses the allocated request quota within your selected tier, you will incur additional charges based on usage.
    • Apigee Edge: For on-premises deployments, Apigee Edge has a separate pricing structure that may involve upfront licensing fees or ongoing subscription costs.
    • Cost of Vendor Lock-in: The price is akin to that experienced with Amazon API Gateway.


  • Pricing Model: The open-source version is freely downloadable and deployable, but it demands internal expertise for effective management and maintenance. Kong Konnect, on the other hand, represents Kong's cloud iteration, featuring a pricing model akin to Apigee's, offering a tiered structure coupled with a pay-as-you-go approach. Primarily, Kong Konnect levies charges for services and API calls, priced at $105 per service per month and $34.25 per million requests respectively. Notably, if the number of services exceeds 100, the overall cost surpasses that of Apigee.

  • Free Tier: The open-source Kong is a free tier, offering core API gateway functionality.

  • Key Cost Factors:

    • Enterprise Edition: The enterprise edition offers exclusive plugins, such as OIDC, unavailable in the open-source version, along with comprehensive technical support services.
    • Self-Managed vs. Cloud-Based: While the core software is free, self-managing Kong requires additional resources such as servers and technical expertise, potentially impacting cloud expenditure. Managed cloud deployments of Kong may also be available with distinct pricing structures.
    • Complex Pricing Model: Taking the Konnect Plus tier as an example, the pricing model encompasses multiple dimensions, including Gateway Services, API Requests, Paid Plugins, Premium Plugins, API Analytics, and Zones. Estimating expenses and understanding billing will pose considerable challenges.


  • Pricing Model: APISIX stands as a top project within the Apache Software Foundation., the donor of APISIX, offers both enterprise and Cloud versions built upon Apache APISIX. The pricing model for API7 Enterprise is structured around CPU counts, with subscription fees independent of API call volume—a notable departure from Kong's Enterprise pricing paradigm.

  • Free Tier: The open-source APISIX offers core API gateway features at no cost.

  • Key Cost Factors:

    • Enterprise Edition: Enhanced functionalities such as high availability clustering, gateway groups, and SLA support necessitate additional enterprise licenses.
    • Deployment Options: Analogous to Kong, self-managed deployments demand supplementary resources, potentially influencing costs. Moreover, API7 Cloud exclusively manages the control plane, while the data plane mandates provisioning your own machine resources, thereby ensuring data compliance and security.

By understanding these individual pricing structures and key cost factors, you can make a more informed decision when choosing the right API gateway for your budget and specific needs.

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