February 20, 2024
7 min read

Hello World: Meet the Engineers Behind the Kong Konnect SaaS Platform

Danny Freese
Senior Software Engineer on Konnect, Kong

Today we’re launching the Kong Konnect Engineering Tech Blog, dedicated to exploring the technology challenges and solutions we’ve encountered. The objective? To offer valuable technical content that enables our readers to broaden their engineering expertise.


Kong has been in the software industry for 8 years and has been in the SaaS industry for roughly 3 years. 

Being a part of the Kong Konnect engineering team is a busy place to be. If you’re not building, you’re designing. If you’re not designing, you’re building again — net new features, enhancing existing capabilities, adding more resilience. It’s an exciting time to be here, as major products are evolving and adapting to the demands of our customers. 

“It takes a village to build a SaaS platform.” 
Wanny Morellato
VP of Engineering

Kong Konnect is an interesting platform because we are both utilizing the same platform as our customers and find ourselves navigating novel challenges and innovating as a result of being an API SaaS platform.

  • We use core Kong components such as the Kong Gateway and its plugins to offload platform concerns from our microservices (rate limiting, authn/z, etc.).
  • We use Kong Konnect to expose our APIs via our Developer Portal, its analytics capabilities, and UI for browsing our configurations.
  • We use Kong Mesh as a service mesh to manage and secure service-to-service communication and support regional failover. 

We encounter technology issues such as supporting multi-regional behavior, understanding and debugging a hybrid platform, and coercing the on-prem (Kong Gateway Enterprise) and UI Konnect experiences to be as close as possible to each other. 

This is all occurring with numerous concurrent streams of new features being released that directly and indirectly affect a Kong Konnect user’s daily experience.

  • What is the architecture of those Kong Konnect features? 
  • How does Kong Konnect meet our target SLAs?
  • What tech stacks are being used behind the scenes? 
  • Who are these Konnect Engineers? 

During these last few years, the engineering team has gained insights, and we want to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Therefore, for the start of this year, we are setting a new stretch goal: to go where no one has gone before (at Kong), and start diving into these technical discussions. 

Are you excited? You should be! Let's start by introducing ourselves — the Konnect Village.

Introducing the Konnect Village

We want to give you a high-level overview of the Kong Konnect Engineering teams involved in many of the features that you directly and indirectly experience. Of course, things are always rapidly changing, so how this looks today vs. the year's end may be vastly different. But it gives you a good sense of how we divide and conquer and also collaborate to deliver new features.

Before we work our way top-down through this chart, note that it’s structured by levels of recognition to a user. It’s critical to reflect that all levels of this 4-layer cake are equal in importance to bring you the Konnect experience that exists today, but you may not realize that there are often one or more teams involved in making a feature a reality.

And so! 

  • Layer 1: Konnect Modules — These are key features that you see on the left nav bar when you log into Kong Konnect. More or less, each module has one or possibly two dedicated teams. 

  • Layer 2: Additional Deployment Modules — This is where the K8s team drives the KIC in Konnect integration (Kong Ingress Controller in a read-only state in Konnect), and the SRE team and Cloud Gateway team collaborate to bring you Cloud Gateways. 

  • Layer 3: Required Platform Service Modules — These are critical components such as billing, understanding user identity when using Kong Konnect, the upcoming search bar capabilities.

  • Layer 4: The Fundamental Modules — The SRE team supports infrastructure, drives IaC practices, drives observability, and executes game days. The Core UI team works on foundational frontend architectures and multiple-team-spanning features (e.g., onboarding, the UI side of Platform services: authentication, etc.) and build the base components for other teams to use in their areas.

In a nutshell, these are the Kong Konnect teams, and how they fit together. The majority of these teams consist of frontend and backend engineers collaborating closely to ensure consistent APIs and UI experiences that remain dependable.

Let’s meet some of the engineers

We also want to take a moment to showcase a few of the many faces behind Kong Konnect.

Amy Abts - Software Engineer, currently on the Billing and Admin Team 

What are your favorite types of problems to work on right now?

Currently, I'm in an exciting "sweet spot" in my career where I'm eager to tackle any challenge while still soaking up new knowledge. Lately, I've been enjoying tasks that involve integrating our billing platform with third-party systems. There's something satisfying about mapping out workflows and crafting solutions that are both concise and robust. I have so much support from my team that it is fun to take on new challenges knowing I have people to turn to for guidance.

What are you currently working on?

I'm currently immersed in building internal services and third-party integrations to handle invoicing, usage-based metering, and other payment-related functionalities. Enhancing the scalability and resilience of our services to meet evolving demands is always a priority.

What are you most excited about coming down the pipeline?

I am excited that I get to work on a team that helps find new ways for people to access and use the Konnect products. Our turnaround time feels like it moves quickly. It is so rewarding to work on features, see them moved to production, and then immediately get feedback for improvements and next steps.

What makes you laugh at work?

While we're all driven to accomplish our goals, we never lose sight of keeping the atmosphere positive. It's amazing how a quick chat can turn a stressful situation into a fun collaboration.

Drew Kimberly - Senior Staff Engineer, currently supporting the Service Hub Team

What are your favorite types of problems to work on right now?

Open-ended problems that don't have a "right" answer. I love the process of trying something out, seeing if it resonates, and then iterating on it based on new inputs like customer feedback.

What are you currently working on?

I work on Service Hub, an upcoming module of Konnect where we're exploring the connection between customers' API infrastructure with their service and deployment topology.

What are you most excited about coming down the pipeline?

I am easily most excited about Service Hub. It's been an exciting journey thus far and we're on the cusp of entering our Private Beta phase!

What makes you laugh at work?

GIFs and memes! We’re a fully remote company, so there’s no better way to liven up code review or Slack.

Nick Anderson - Senior Engineer, currently supporting the Platform Services Team

What are your favorite types of problems to work on right now?

Distributed systems, increasing performance on services working with large data sets, and anything related to developer experience are my top three at the moment. I love being able to see customer pain points vanish with a union of technology and design for a stellar customer experience.

What are you currently working on?

My latest focus has been building out the next evolution of our search capability. There's a fair bit of cross-team collaboration and orchestration to ingest customer's data from across the globe in a secure and scalable way; which lines up well with my favorite problems.

What are you most excited about coming down the pipeline?

I'm definitely excited for our upcoming efforts on providing more means of automating Konnect operations. We have a few developer-focused features coming this year I can't wait to see in customer's hands.

What makes you laugh at work?

One of my consistent means of laughter is helping come up with ideas of entirely emoji-based sprint names to describe the work. Anything in the pun, meme, GIF, or emoji realm in chat or PR reviews helps bring some extra joy to our day-to-day work.

Mihai Peteu - Senior Frontend Engineer, currently supporting the Data Team

What are your favorite types of problems to work on?

At the moment, my favorite challenges are any opportunities to improve developer experience (DX), by either improving tools or processes or making a visual component available to multiple teams. 

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on utilitarian yet elegant client-facing dashboards for the data and analytics team. These will empower Kong Konnect customers to quickly determine the health of their services and enable them to drill down further into each golden signal.

What are you most excited about coming down the pipeline?

Most exciting is the upcoming effort to migrate the Analytics section of Kong Konnect to its own micro frontend. This will benefit us in multiple ways: shorter regression tests translate into less costly GitHub actions, code separation means fast and confident iteration on feature work, and an improved set of code quality tools to ensure consistency and enforce best practices.

What makes you laugh at work?

I always get a good laugh out of “how many engineers on a Zoom call does it take to figure out a tricky issue” scenarios.  We all need to bounce ideas off our peers or collaborate when we’re stuck. We’re a 100% remote company, with team members spread across many time zones, so camaraderie plays a very important role.

Up next

We have a lineup of topics for you already. 

  • First, Mesh Manager went GA last year. We want to follow up with a review of the Konnect architecture that makes Kong Mesh in Konnect possible.
  • Second - Oct 10 2023, the HTTP/2 Rapid Reset Vulnerability (CVE-2023-44487) was announced. Kong and its engineering team responded within 48 hours with testing, validation and patches across the whole organization. We want to dive into that process from announcement to the resolution. 

As we wrap up, let's end with a constructive reminder to you as an engineer toiling away and our Konnect Engineering team as well. It can be easy for engineers to forget how impactful their efforts are. Sometimes, when you don’t directly see the customer’s eyes light up because a new feature is out you can forget to pause, and really congratulate yourself. If you have not done so, do that now. 

We hope you stay tuned for the next blog posts. Onwards!