Kong Summit 2022 is nearly two weeks ago. After fighting the jet lag successfully and getting back into catching up with daily business, time to step back and just reflect about learnings as well as news and noteworthy from the conference. In advance I must say: it was awesome, absolutely worth and a blast being there!

Facts around Kong Summit

Kong Summit was a tow days conference in the beautiful city of San Francisco and took place at the Palace Hotel, which is just a 15 minutes walk away from Kong HQ. Almost 500 attendees from all over the globe came to hear great sessions and see cool demos from 75 speakers.

OC Kong Champions at Kong Summit

From OPITZ CONSULTING Fabian Hardt and me – both of us are members of the Kong Champions community – attended the conference, where we delivered the following sessions:

To see all topics that where touched by the session, please have a look to the full agenda.

Real-world use cases – Learning from industry leaders

One of the most important things when going to conferences is to learn from others, how specific challenges had been addressed with the technologies available. At Kong Summit, we had the opportunity to hear from industry leaders like Mercedes Benz, Ikea, Raiffeisen Bank International and many more how they leverage the power of Kong’s Connectivity platform to solve the challenges they were facing.

Just to give an example: Mercedes Benz based their API Management platform on Kong Open Source Gateway and are able to manage 1.200 APIs at scale. That’s impressive, especially when taking into account that the number of APIs are supposed to grow constantly.

Platform vision and announcements

Kong’s platform consists of different components, where the core elements are:

Using the Kong Connectivity platform allows for managing enterprise connectivity on different levels (edge, app-2-app, in-app) consistently.

Vision

Augusto „Aghi“ Marietti, CEO, President and Co-Founder Kong opens the conference by explaining his vision how the future of enterprise architectures should look like. He used the metaphor of the human brain and its neural network. Speaking of APIs, they form the neural network, as they allow applications to connect and communicate with each other; each single API can be seen as a synapse.

Kong Connectivity platform itself forms the central nervous systems that holds everything together and ensures that interactions between the synapses are working reliable without any disturbance.

Kong CTO and Co-Founder Marco Palladino reminds us in his opening talk that the value of any API initiative stands and falls with a solid API vision, from which enterprises must work backwards.

Marco also points out the relevancy of an API design-first operating model, which allows to deliver new digital experiences faster and more efficient.

A further key learning from the opening talks is that by growing an API ecosystem, enterprises gradually become programmable, which enables a new developer experience that allows for a better developer productivity and hence faster time-2-market.

Announcements

Besides learning about real world use cases and the overall Vision for Kong’s Connectivity platform, new versions and the respective features for the single components were announced.

Kong Gateway – new major release unveiled

With Kong Gateway 3.0 a new major release has been officially announced, which is already general available. As usual for major release, some significant changes has been made under the hood with respect to the overall Gateway architecture. Some of the key enhancements:

  • New Router implementation allowing for better performance while processing a request as well as more optimized expressions for complex routing rules
  • In-memory DB (LMDB) for optimized worker handling, which increases performance and throughput
  • Custom plugin ordering
  • FIPS 140-2 compliancy
  • Consistent secure secret storage across the Gateway and its plugins e.g. using HashiCorp Vault
  • Support for WebSockets and OpenTelemetry

For further information can be found in the official announcement blog by Michael Heap. With respect to dynamic plugin ordering, you can find a detailed explanation on how this works in Viktor Gamov’s blog post.

With respect to Kong Ingress Controller (KIC), the Kubernetes-native way of deploying Kong Gateway, a new Kong Gateway Operator for K8s was announced as technical preview.

Insomnia – improved protocol support

For the new release of Insomnia 2022.6.0 the support for WebSockets had been announced. This allows users to bi-directional communicate with WebSocket-based APIs. You can read more about it in this blog post written by Marco Palladino.

As API design-first becomes more critical today, Insomnia should be used at the heart of every API initiative. Consequently, Kong announced an enterprise tier for Insomnia, which increases productivity, as through guaranteed SLAs teams will be unblocked faster, and further accelerates the API lifecycle with Kong’s integrations.

Furthermore, Marco gave a short sneak into what we can expect down the road for Insomnia in 2023. One of the features, we can expect amongst others is native API mocking.

I am really excited about all the news and looking forward for more on Insomnia in the future.

Kong Mesh – Faster and more reliable

Kong Mesh is Kong’s Enterprise Service Mesh implementation based on Kuma. Together with Kong Gateway, it forms the backbone of Kong’s Connectivity platform.

Same as for Kong Gateway, a new major version Kong Mesh 2.0 has been announced. The new release can be expected by the end of October and also comes with a significant architectural change, as it will provide support for eBPF. This will improve the overall Mesh performance by 12% and significantly improves reliability and uptime.

Besides that we can also expect new policies to manage traffic inside the Mesh. In addition, support for OpenTelemetry was announced for Kong Mesh.

Kong Konnect – rapidly improving SaaS Connectivity platform

With Kong Konnect a fully-managed SaaS offering is provided. This means that Kong runs a central Control plane for its customers form that allows for

  • Distribution and management of Kong Gateway instances to different Clouds as well as to on-prem environments (Runtime Manager)
  • Consistent overview to all Service deployed to all Gateway instances (Service Hub)
  • Central API Registry for Developers to browse through published APIs and register to those (Developer Portal)
  • Monitor API metrics, like throughput, latency, error rate by route, etc. (API Analytics)

As with many other SaaS solutions, Kong Konnect is evolving rapidly, you can track all changes consistently on the release notes page in the official documentation. Some of the major enhancements in the last months are:

  • Support for Kong Gateway 3.0
  • Introduction of runtime groups which allows for securely isolate configuration for sets of runtime instances
  • Runtime group dashboard to manage runtime groups usage across all and individual runtime instances
  • Multi-GEO support (currently US & EU – which is new -, upcoming JP & AU)
  • Teams and roles which enable fine-grained access management, e.g. on a runtime group level
  • Custom Reporting which allows to look at the API metrics from different angles

If you wanted to learn more or wanted to have more details, you can also read through Smriti Jaggi’s announcement blog for Kong Konnect.

Besides that, there are many more features on the roadmap for the upcoming months. so stay tuned and have a look to Kong Konnect, if you’re interested.

Kong Incubator – A look into the Future

With Kong Incubator Kong launches a landing page, where information about tech previews of features that are currently under development are shared. The community is invited to have a first sneak look into those upcoming features, to play around with them and provide feedback, in case there’s potential for enhancements or bugs.

From my opinion this is a great thing for both Kong and the Community, because feedback and ideas can be exchanged at a very early stage and allows for easy adjustments as the products are not into production, but still under development.

Currently, we can see the WASMX support, the Kong Gateway Operator for K8s and Koko, which will be the next-level Kong Gateway Control Plane that has been completely rewritten in Go.

Meet with the Kong Champions

A highlight for me was to meet with others from the Kong Champions Community, which currently has 18 members all over the globe and is growing rapidly. People within this community share the passion for modern software architectures and how challenges can be addressed by using Kong’s products. It was good to learn from each other, to exchange ideas and simply have a good time.

Special thanks to Daliya Spasova, the Kong Community Manager responsible for the Champions program, to build such a great valuable community. She also composed a blog post, how the Kong Champions Community differs from other advocacy programs.

Kong Champions

Conclusion

I already mentioned it in the introduction: Kong Summit had been a blast!

I pretty much enjoyed being back in-person, meeting a lot of new, interesting people and chat with them about their daily challenges. This networking capability is what makes conferences so much valuable. It was good to again feel this special conference atmosphere, where the air is filled with energy that gives you so much and motivates to learn new things. This is what I missed so much while doing virtual conferences.

From a product perspective, I have to say: Kudos to the Kong team! Its awesome what you guys are doing and how much you appreciate your community. You are not satisfied with the status quo and are constantly working to improve your platform, working backward from a very strong and consistent vision, I am 100% agree with.

I already looking forward to next years Kong Summit and all the exciting stuff that Kong bring out in the upcoming months!

Author

Sven Bernhardt is a technology enthusiast and works for OPITZ CONSULTING as Chief Architect as part of the Corporate Development team. Within his role, he’s responsible for managing the technology portfolio and developing Best Practices and Guidelines. In addition, Sven supports his colleagues with implementing Software solutions for Customers. Sven acts as regular speaker on various conferences, talking about technology or architecture topics, and is also sharing his thoughts and experiences by writing articles and blog posts. In addition, he's Kong Champion and Oracle ACE Pro.

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