Kong is an open source API gateway and platform that acts as middleware between compute clients and the API-centric applications. The platform easily extends the capabilities of APIs with the use of plugins. Kong is used by developers and software product owners to create portals to APIs, manage them and adjust for scaling.

Popular features deployed through Kong include:

  • Authentication on services for protection.
  • Traffic control to restrict inbound and outbound API traffic.
  • Analytics to inspect, monitor and visualize microservices
  • Request and response transformations on the fly.
  • Stream request and response data to logging solutions.
  • Invoking serverless

How does Kong work?

Kong must have two components set up in order to be operational:

  1. The Kong server- The HTTP server is built on top of NGINX and performs reverse proxy to deliver client requests to upstream services.
  2. The Kong datastore- The datastore saves the Kong configuration so that a database roundtrip while proxying requests is not required. Apache Cassandra or postgreSQL can be used for this.

When an API has Kong running, every client request made to the API will go through Kong before being proxied to the final API. When the request goes through Kong, it executes any plugins that are installed. Kong can be seen as an entry point for client API requests.

The Kong Admin API is a RESTful API and can be used to configure the platform, manage users and enable or disable plugins.

Benefits of Kong

Kong is extensible, platform agnostic and fast. Additional benefits are:

  • Is horizontally scalable.
  • Can be easily integrated into existing systems.
  • Is built using reliable technology such as NGINX, Apache Cassandra or PostgreSQL.
  • Functionality can be extended through plugins.
  • Can be deployed in the cloud or on-premises.
  • Uses the large Kong Inc. API marketplace of existing APIs.

History of Kong Inc.

Kong Inc. was founded in 2007 by CEO Augusto Maretti, Michele Zonica and CTO Marco Palladino. The first product, Mashape, was a kit used to aggregate the functions and UI features of software and services. While developing this product, the team began to create a collection of APIs that turned into the first API marketplace.

Today, Kong Inc. has four main product offerings and is considered the most popular vendor for microservices and cloud management toolkits. The first is its self-named API and microservices management tool, Kong. The second is an API troubleshooting and analytics platform, Galileo. The third is called Gelato and is a developer tool for creating API portals and microservices. The last is the API marketplace which is used by over 250,000 developers.

This was last updated in August 2019

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