By on August 11, 2020

Kong for AWS: How TUNE Improves Developer Productivity with Kong

In support of our partnership with AWS and the AWS DevOps Competency program, we’re re-examining how some of our major customers are using Kong with AWS. To this end, let’s look at our popular case study with TUNE.

Founded in 2009, TUNE builds technology that powers successful marketing partnerships across mobile and web. The TUNE Partner Marketing Platform is the industry’s most flexible SaaS platform for building, managing and growing partner programs for advertisers and networks. As one of the first cloud-based SaaS platforms to support affiliate marketing, TUNE’s mission has evolved as affiliate marketing has expanded and matured into the larger partner marketing category. As part of this evolution, TUNE set a business goal to increase revenue and market share in the direct advertiser space. 

Preventing TUNE from achieving its goals was a legacy API and program geared toward affiliate marketing networks rather than direct advertisers. “The legacy API was not very useful for advertisers. It was too complex and assumed too much. Part of our API strategy is building new endpoints on a new API that is simpler and specialized to advertiser needs,” said Robert Anton-Erik, software development manager. The API team at TUNE manages TUNE’s external-facing API, including related concerns such as authentication, rate limiting and monitoring API operations. 

In addition to TUNE’s legacy API issues, its developer productivity was hampered by the need to build and maintain API infrastructure logic at the application layer. As a result, TUNE experienced a lack of agility since team assignments were limited by code base and architectural concerns.

To address these challenges, Kong proposed using its Kong Enterprise as a service connectivity platform running on Kubernetes in AWS. The solution efficiently manages TUNE’s external APIs, as well as includes several tools to enhance their DevOps infrastructure. These tools include Kong’s Developer Portal, providing API documentation and standardization on OpenAPI 3.0, Kong Vitals for API monitoring and KPIs, and Kong Studio to generate and enable spec-first development for all REST services. 

By running TUNE with Kong Enterprise on AWS, the organization was able to align its API strategy with its market goals, quickly push updates to production, manage external APIs and enable its team to focus on core interests. TUNE improved its developer productivity by over 10X by adding API infrastructure logic at the networking layer; plus, it now enjoys consistent API specs and docs by automating publishing workflows and providing an integrated test and design studio. TUNE has now achieved architectural freedom, allowing vertical-oriented teams that own front-end to back-end without dependencies on other teams. 

“We knew we needed a standardized gateway allowing us to have shared functionality in a specific location,” said Anton-Erik. Doing so would allow developers on TUNE’s application teams to focus on building and maintaining their services, while the API team could own supporting infrastructure.

TUNE needed to move toward more vertical-oriented teams. “We had multiple back-end services with different languages, all being managed by different teams,” said Anton-Erik. The dependency on multiple teams and languages was reducing developer productivity significantly. “We wanted to move toward having teams own building the front-end and back-end as well as exposing the API – all without depending on other teams.” In order to do so, TUNE needed a platform that enabled the freedom to work with any architecture, protocol or deployment pattern. 

“Kong made our shortlist because it could do everything we needed a gateway to do for our new API, as well as expose our legacy API,” said Anton-Erik. “Ultimately, we chose Kong because it stood out as a developer-friendly, integrated solution.” The team saw that Kong was built to run in containers, its documentation made developer setup easy, and its platform inclusion of an integrated development studio and developer portal along with an API gateway offered a comprehensive solution. 

TUNE Runs Kong on Kubernetes and AWS to Manage APIs

TUNE went live with Kong about three months after purchasing Kong Enterprise. TUNE runs its production Kong instance in a single Kubernetes cluster in EC2 on AWS, using Kong’s Kubernetes Ingress Controller to manage configuration changes. “Our developers run images locally for Kong’s enterprise gateway and developer portal,” said Anton-Erik. “They can make changes and play around with them locally. After verifying the changes, our developers then update the Custom Resource Definitions for Kong’s Kubernetes Ingress Controller with the same changes. When the changes are merged, our deployment pipeline pushes the changes to staging and production, while running tests alongside the deployments.” TUNE values the integrated nature of its solution with Kong, its ability to run in Docker and its flexibility across platforms. 

“Kong’s plug-in architecture allows developers to quickly apply policies at the networking layer,” said Anton-Erik. “We plan to make use of the OAuth policy widely across our services. What used to take days of custom development can now be achieved in minutes.” Other common policies the team can make use of with Kong include rate limiting, authorization and routing logic. 

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