November 9, 2023
4 min read

Building a Modern API Platform: Key Principles and Benefits

Greg Peranich
Greg Peranich
Senior Solutions Engineer, Kong

APIs have become a crucial part of modern software architecture, allowing different applications and services to communicate with each other. As organizations adopt microservices and distribute their systems, they require a cohesive API platform to manage these complex environments. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the principles of a modern API platform, the problems with legacy solutions, and how platforms like Kong Konnect provide a comprehensive set of capabilities to help teams build, secure, monitor, and publish APIs at scale — enabling organizations to grant flexibility to developers while ensuring governance and security.

Youtube thumbnail

In this on-demand webinar, see how technology leaders can leverage Kong Konnect to build a world-class API lifecycle management platform.

What are the principles of a modern API platform?

A modern API platform follows several core principles:

  • Distributed architecture — Rather than a monolithic gateway, a modern platform utilizes a distributed architecture with many API gateways. This provides greater scale and availability and allows discreet management of different APIs. 
  • Centralized control — While the gateways themselves are distributed, their configuration is centrally controlled through a management plane. This enables organization-wide governance, consistency, and observability into the API ecosystem.
  • Infrastructure agnostic — The gateways can run anywhere — bare metal, VMs, containers, cloud — providing the flexibility modern organizations need. The centralized control plane provides a consistent management layer above the infrastructure.
  • Automated configuration — API configuration and policy should be code, enabling DevOps practices around infrastructure-as-code. Tooling automates configuring gateways from API specs.
  • Developer self-service — Teams can self-provision gateways and services with appropriate guardrails in place. This facilitates speed and decentralization.
  • Holistic lifecycle management — The entire API lifecycle needs to be managed: design, develop, deploy, run, and monitor. Capabilities like developer portals and analytics complete the modern platform.

Problems faced within legacy API platforms

Traditional API management solutions fail to meet the demands of modern infrastructure:

  • Tight coupling — The API gateway is tied to particular infrastructure or environments. This limits scale, availability, and portability.
  • Centralization — A single gateway becomes a bottleneck and single point of failure. There are no isolation boundaries between APIs and teams.
  • Manual configuration — Updating gateways requires manual processes. Lack of automation hinders velocity and consistency.
  • Limited governance — Organization-wide controls are difficult with decentralized gateways. Often governance is all or nothing.
  • Poor visibility — With distributed deployments, it can be difficult to gain visibility across gateways. Troubleshooting problems becomes challenging.
  • Siloed lifecycle — Disjointed tools are used across the lifecycle: design, develop, deploy, run, and monitor. There's no connected developer experience.

Solutions provided within a modern API platform

Modern API management platforms like Kong Konnect provide integrated solutions to these challenges:

Manage distributed gateways

Kong Konnect provides centralized control over distributed Kong Gateway instances. Teams can self-manage their own gateways via isolated control planes with appropriate governance guardrails in place. This facilitates decentralization while maintaining consistency.

The gateway manager capability allows configuring, monitoring, and managing of gateways through a multi-tenant interface. Gateway groups allow aggregating configuration from multiple control planes onto shared infrastructure.

Automating API configuration

Kong Konnect integrates with Kong's declarative configuration tooling for infra-as-code automation. YAML or JSON files declare gateway config while the Kong Konnect controller handles syncing it to live instances. 

Workflows auto-generate configs from API specs and layer on governance policies. GitOps-style pipelines manage infrastructure immutably. This facilitates consistency and velocity.

Centralized API catalog

API products provide a centralized catalog mapping distributed services on gateways into shareable products. This facilitates discovering and consuming APIs consistently across the organization.

Products support versioning, documentation, and SDK generation for building a developer portal. Application registration controls access to managed APIs.

Benefits of building a modern API platform with Kong Konnect

Leveraging Kong Konnect provides many advantages for managing a distributed API landscape:

  • Federated operating model — A federated operating model allows centralizing shared capabilities like policy and analytics while enabling teams to self-manage their own gateways and services. This facilitates decentralized ownership with appropriate oversight.
  • Managing service mesh interactions — In conjunction with service meshes like Kuma, Kong Konnect manages the mesh control planes to bring consistency across east-west and north-south traffic. Federated traffic management governs all APIs.
  • Monitoring the API ecosystem — Konnect Analytics provides organization-wide visibility into the performance and health of the gateway infrastructure and APIs. Custom reports and request logging enable troubleshooting issues across services.

Modern platforms like Kong Konnect provide integrated solutions to the challenges of managing APIs across complex, distributed environments. Robust control planes, developer self-service, and federated models provide scalable access management. Automation tooling enables infrastructure-as-code and CI/CD workflows. Holistic lifecycle management brings seamless visibility and governance across the entire API and service landscape. 


Get Started with Kong Konnect

Kong Konnect provides a comprehensive toolkit to manage every aspect of the API lifecycle — from building to publishing, securing, monitoring, and maintaining APIs. 

Kong's flexible architecture integrates with existing infrastructure and lets you adopt capabilities at your own pace. If you're building or modernizing an API platform, Kong Konnect provides an enterprise-ready foundation for your API infrastructure and ecosystem. Start for free!