That’s a wrap! What You Missed at Kong Summit 2021

By on September 30, 2021

That’s a Wrap! What You Missed at Kong Summit 2021

So many announcements, so many surprises and a seemingly never-ending list of impactful customer stories! After two and a half days packed with fun and learning, we bid farewell to Kong Summit for another year. 

If you were one of the almost 5,000 people that registered, you know exactly what we are talking about. Here is a recap of some of the most exciting parts of Kong Summit 2021.

Behind the Scenes at Kong Summit

We were hard at work preparing for a virtual summit with over 75 speakers. Many months, dozens of staff and hundreds of hours behind the scenes went into making Kong Summit a success. 

Watch the video below to see how we turned our San Francisco office into a live event studio.

Kong Summit 2021 Recap

If you missed the exciting announcements from Day 1, check out Kong Summit Day 1.

Day 2 started with the sounds of DJ D Sharp, the official DJ of the Golden State Warriors, who spun some crazy mixes to get us in the mood for another day of excitement. He then handed it off to Kong Summit 2021 emcees Viktor Gamov and Christie James, who broke some exciting news! Watch the announcement below. 

Fireside Chats


Each day, we held a fireside chat with a special guest. On Tuesday, Brad Peterson, EVP/CTO/CIO of Nasdaq, joined Kong CEO and Co-Founder Augusto Marietti on stage. Brad explained that Nasdaq not only provides technology for the markets they operate; they are also a leading technology provider to other exchanges.

Like many Kong customers, Nasdaq has been breaking down monolithic applications to provide them as services.

“The strategy is not necessarily to come with a full solution that we offer full service. We also allow companies that have some solutions to integrate with an API strategy. Rather than lift, shift and replace a competitor’s product, we can actually augment and add value much quicker.”

Kong Summit fireside chat: Nasdaq


On Wednesday, Tim Hinrichs, CTO of Styra joined Kong CTO and Co-Founder Marco Palladino for a virtual fireside chat to discuss zero-trust security and Open Policy Agent (OPA). Styra contributed OPA to the open-source community in 2016. 

OPA is an open-source, general-purpose policy engine that unifies policy enforcement across the stack. OPA provides a high-level declarative language that lets you specify policy as code and simple APIs to offload policy decision-making from your software. 

“Instead of having monolithic applications, we have more microservice-based applications. With lots of different pieces of software that all have to work together to deliver value for end-users, you have authorizations that need to be enforced in each. What we want is a zero-trust model where each piece of software, regardless of whether big or small, owns its authorization.”

Styra fireside chat

Real-World Success With Kong



The first customer sessions were part of Tuesday’s keynote. Reza Shafii introduced John McCann, VP of Connected Living Technology, and Harman Dhillon, executive director of platform infrastructure and tools, who shared how they use Kong Gateway in their Connected Living products. 

“We use Kong API gateway in Connected Living Technology to elevate the developer experience so that our developers building all the services that run in our cloud can be developed independently by various SCRUM teams and published in a way that is consistent and coherent to the consumers.”

Kong Gateway makes it easy for their developers to publish and manage their routes, monitor the critical metrics around their systems’ operational health, and efficiently and consistently generate API documentation for the consumers.


Reza also introduced Ivan Rylach, Senior Staff Software Engineer at Checkr, an API-based unicorn startup in the background check industry. Checkr delivers global availability for their APIs, and Kong Gateway is the foundation for their API platform. The platform relies on Kong for ingress and egress traffic routing, enforcing security, maintaining a level of service quality and gaining visibility for auditing and analytics. 

An extensive plugin ecosystem allows them to create new and enhance existing capabilities of an API layer. So how do they manage and keep Kong configurations consistent across each region and environment?

Ivan Rylach Checkr

American Airlines

Lastly, Reza introduced Jason Walker, director of technology at American Airlines. American uses Kuma to power their internal service mesh. 

“One of the things that we see as an advantage internally is being able to make it very easy to do the right hard things to make the developer experience not only productive but practical. And we see Kuma as a great way for us to incorporate three specific attributes around our developer experience.”


Learnings From Kong Summit

Over the past two days, we’ve heard exciting, and often extraordinary stories from our customers, partners and industry thought leaders, as well as many exciting announcements from Kong.  Several themes emerged, namely, development velocity, scalability and the importance of innovation and modernization. And there was also much love for Kong plugins.

Modernizing Financial Services Infrastructures

Our first session featured Kong guildmaster at Vanguard, Ryan Swanson, who shared how Vanguard offloads security requirements from applications to Kong Gateway so developers can focus on what they do best: developing applications! 

FactSet principal software engineer Stephen Tyree shared how he uses Kong Gateway to accelerate digital transformation and transition to the public cloud. 

Jayakumar Ganesan, head of service for digital platforms at First Abu Dhabi Bank, explained how Kong helped them adopt modern technology without being disruptive to legacy systems which reducing operations costs by 57% with an evergreen infrastructure.

API Workflows: APIOps, GitOps and DevOps

We also heard from Jacqui Leggetter, head of integration at the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), and Dean Clark, technical lead for integration technologies at DWP, the largest UK governmental department responsible for welfare pensions and child maintenance policy. 

Jacqui discussed how DWP is transforming through their recovery from the pandemic by focusing on re-use and holistic citizen/agent facing services. Specifically, DWP offers a distributed network of gateways deployed in Kubernetes containers and following APIOps best practices.

Department for Work & Pensions

Aditya Soni from Red Hat also shared how APIOps is the next evolution for DevOps and automation. Aditya discussed how and when organizations could adopt APIOps. 

From the API design perspective, Jeremy Glassenberg from Docusign explained how new solutions and an API gateway could help teams develop an automated, scalable system for designing, implementing and launching consistent APIs.

Finally, Kong’s Michael Heap led a hands-on session featuring Kong’s declarative configuration (decK) capabilities and how to use a CI system, such as Jenkins, to lint API descriptions (OpenAPI) and automatically deploy the appropriate Gateway configuration. He demonstrated how to test changes in a staging environment and automatically apply the same configuration to production.

Building on the Cloud

We had two sessions from AWS, one each day. On Tuesday, Anuj Sharma, senior container specialist solutions architect at AWS, shared how Kong Gateway provides a modular approach to building a cloud fabric layer on AWS, unlocking multiple use cases and architectural patterns built on AWS.

Running With CI/CD

Kong’s Michael Heap led a hands-on session, where he showed off Kong’s declarative configuration (decK) capabilities and how to use a CI system to lint and apply configurations in various environments. He showed how to test changes in a staging environment, then apply the same config to production with a click of a button.

Innovating With Service Mesh

Service mesh was a popular topic throughout Kong Summit. Scott Lowe, a principal field engineer at Kong, demonstrated how service mesh isn’t as challenging to implement and maintain as you may think.

“Beam me up, Scotty.” This session was a can’t-miss for Star Trek fans. Viktor Gamov, a principal developer advocate at Kong, went boldly where no man has gone before by explaining the differences between API gateways and service meshes.

American Airlines is going above and beyond with service mesh. Karl Haworth, product technical lead with American, showed us how his team implemented Kuma within their developer experience product called Runway. Kuma provided multi-cluster connectivity for their application teams and automated governance and integration policies within the mesh.

Bringing Legacy Into the Future

Are SOAP services still an essential part of your API portfolio? You’re not alone! Aaron Weikle of MS3, Daniel Kocot of Codecentric and Yohann Agostini of nexDigital described how they deal with the challenges of moving legacy systems to the future every day.

What’s modern today is legacy tomorrow. Aaron explained how leveraging the “Strangler Facade” and “Mullet” patterns with Kong could help bring your legacy systems along for the ride.

Hackathon Winners

Finally, we announced the winners of our inaugural Kong Summit Hackathon. We asked the Kong community to build new ideas using Kong products. We had many impressive and creative submissions, and the winners are…

The top prize went to Satyajit Sial! Satyajit built an ingenious plugin for Kong Gateway that can skip plugins that have been enabled globally for specific services or routes.

Kong Summit Hackathon winners

Category winners included: 

  • Best Kong Gateway Plugin (a category so big we decided to award it twice!) 
    • Narendra Patel’s plugin allows you to rate limit not just on the number of requests but the bandwidth consumed too. 
    • Anup Rai built a plugin to dynamically choose an upstream based on the incoming request.
  • Best Insomnia Plugin – Scott Harwell submitted an awesome Oracle Cloud signature generation plugin.
  • Best Docs Contribution – Anindita Basu won for her detailed and descriptive copy edits to our plugin documentation, which represent the quality we strive for in our docs!
  • Best Presented Demo – Satyajit Sial provided an excellent mix of education and entertainment.

Check out the links to the winning contributions on the Hackathon page.

Wrapping Up

I can go on and on – there is so much more to share, including our final session: Developing the Fearless Girl: Changing the Tech World One Action at a Time with Siew Choo Soh, head of technology for consumer banking & big data/AI at DBS Bank. For those of you who registered, all the keynotes and sessions are available to watch on-demand. For the rest, the videos will be available in a couple of weeks. 

While Kong Summit registration has officially closed for the year, you can already save the date for next year’s event. The fifth annual Kong Summit will be taking place in San Francisco on September 28-29, 2022. We can’t wait to see you there!

Save the date for Kong Summit 2022

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