Product Releases
September 27, 2023
7 min read

Introducing Kong’s Unified API Lifecycle Management Platform

Syed Mahmood

Kong Konnect now offers a single pane of glass to centrally manage services from API gateway, Ingress controllers, and service mesh

We’re excited to announce Kong's unified API lifecycle management platform. Kong Konnect, our cloud API platform, can now manage services from API gateway, Ingress, and service mesh with a hosted control plane that can be implemented across any cloud provider, Kubernetes distribution, or on-premises data centers.

This major development was announced at API Summit 2023, but you can get the highlights of this — plus an overview of everything else that’s new with Kong Konnect — below. Let’s go!

What’s new in Kong Konnect?

Unified API management, lower operational burden, and insight into API consumption are API Summit 2023 recurring themes for Kong Konnect. You’ll see these topics reflected in the keynotes, product roadmaps, and demos at API Summit.

Kong Konnect is the cornerstone of Kong’s vision of delivering a unified API management platform and now provides a single pane of glass for platform teams and API developers to manage services from Kong Gateway, Kong Ingress Controller, and Kong Mesh centrally.

Every organization is interested in lowering its infrastructure’s operational overhead. New features including Control Plane Groups, Developer Portal OIDC team mappings and custom plugin management aim to lower an organization’s operational cost by combining configuration from a pool of control planes, easily configuring the roles and responsibilities of developer teams and automating the manual process of uploading and validating schemas for custom plugins.

API Requests is a new feature that we’re very excited about as it provides valuable insights to developers about how their APIs are used by application developers to build their software applications and products. API providers can use this information to market their products effectively, resolve issues faster, and enhance their performance.

Kong Konnect component name changes

Before we review the details of these announcements, it’s important to point out that some of Kong Konnect’s components have undergone name changes. These changes have been made based on your feedback to make the components’ names intuitive and hence easy to understand their function.

Kong Mesh in Kong Konnect (GA)

Kong Konnect has taken a major step forward becoming a truly unified API lifecycle management platform.

Kong Mesh joins the list of Kong Gateway and Kong Ingress Controller as the generally available run time engines that can be managed centrally by Kong Konnect’s management plane. Users can now identify mesh services, view relevant metadata (mesh, zone, etc.), and access the service's details in Mesh Manager as part of Konnect. This provides users with a unified API platform where they don’t have to navigate to multiple locations and work within different interfaces to manage services from Kong Gateway, Kong Ingress Controller, and Kong Mesh.

Kong Konnect users can now navigate to a new Mesh Manager menu, where they can create, modify, and delete mesh global control planes (MGCP). An MGCP is analogous to a Control Plane in Kong Gateway terminology, and a customer will likely have multiple MGCPs mapped to different environments or business units. Each MGCP maps to a Kubernetes or Linux zone through a process that is similar to adding a Control Plane for Kong Gateway. The initial onboarding, management, and view will look similar in Mesh Manager to that of Gateway Manager.

Organizations can lower their operational overhead and elevate their developers’ experience by streamlining the operation of Kong Gateways and Kong Ingress Controller and by simplifying the deployment of Kong Mesh with a hosted control plane that can be implemented across any cloud, virtual machines, or on-prem.

Control Plane Groups (GA)

A Control Plane Group empowers platform teams to combine configuration from standard control planes and provide flexibility, isolation, and ease of use to application teams while leveraging a single pool of Gateway dataplanes. This capability enhances an organization’s ability to implement federated API management and ensures a customized level of minimum security and compliance for each application team. In a Control Plane Group, each team administers its own Control Planes, but the data plane nodes are shared.

The following diagram illustrates how a Control Plane Group can be used to implement a federated platform administrator model. In this example, Team Blue configures Control Plane Blue, which is then combined with the configuration from Team Yellow. In addition, the Control Plane Group contains Control Plane Green, which is managed by a central platform team. The central team provides global plugin configuration, which is added to any configuration that teams Blue and Yellow provide.

The data plane nodes in the cluster use the combined configuration from all three groups.

Developer Portal OIDC Team Mappings (GA)

This generally available feature in Kong Konnect enables administrators to configure the roles and responsibilities of developer teams with ease by mapping permissions from third-party identity providers (IdP) including Auth0, Okta, and Azure AD among others that conform to the OIDC standard. The designated IdP provides the single source of truth for RBAC configuration and reduces the amount of time and effort required to administer individual configurations within Kong Konnect.

Custom Plugin Management (GA)

With Custom Plugin Management, we’ve automated the manual process of uploading and validating schemas for custom plugins using both Kong Konnect UI and API. This helps reduce the time for customers to upload, discover, configure, modify, and delete custom plugins to their environment and deploy specific functionality to their API environments provided by Kong’s extensive plugin ecosystem.

Custom plugins can be built in any language such as Lua, Go, JS, and Python as long as the schema is in Lua. \

API Requests (Beta)

The API Requests feature in beta provides a detailed record of the requests that are made to an API. This information not only helps API developers understand how their APIs are being consumed by users but also simplifies the process of investigating errors or performance issues by providing an intuitive web experience that is fully integrated with Konnect Organizations. API Requests can help organizations:

  • Make informed decisions about product development and marketing strategies by analyzing API requests and deriving insights about user behavior, popular endpoints, peak usage times, and more.
  • Troubleshoot issues faster by identifying the sequence of events leading up to a problem in order to effectively diagnose and fix them. API Requests also provide an intuitive and structured way to search, filter, and inspect API requests in near-real time without the noise of unstructured and free-form text that is prevalent in server logs.

API Requests is powered by a near real-time engine that provides administrators with insights into API requests in milliseconds. To accelerate the investigative process users can filter requests by Control Group, route, gateway service, application, status code, and API product/ product version and drill down into an individual request.

Furthermore, API Requests also provide links to the Kong Konnect entities that are related to the request being investigated. To complete the process, events are stored in Kong Konnect’s data platform that currently powers our analytics and reporting and will also do the same for API Requests in the near future.

Multi-Geo support (Coming Soon)

We’re excited to announce that all Kong Konnect customers regardless of tier can now host and operate Kong Konnect control planes in any region in North America, the European Union, and Australia in a self-serve fashion. Starting in November, Kong Konnect customers will also be able to host and operate Kong Konnect control planes in the Australian region. 

More Kong updates

There are a couple of announcements that aren’t directly related to Kong Konnect but are still important as part of the API Summit 2023 that we thought you should know about. These include:

Kong Gateway Operator (GA)

Kong Gateway Operator makes it easy for administrators to deploy and manage Kong Gateway clusters in Kubernetes for both Kong Konnect and Kong Enterprise. In fact, we’re using the Kong Gateway Operator to power our own cloud gateways. Kubernetes Operators streamline the day-to-day tasks like scaling, backup, and monitoring that go above and beyond traditional Kubernetes Helm charts. 

The latest release of the Kong Gateway Operator effectively tackles the most common customer challenge of upgrading their Kong Gateway data planes using a blue/green deployment strategy. The operator enables the deployment of new Kong Gateway versions and allows you to test before switching away from your existing deployment. When combined with the version-aware control plane of Kong Konnect, this breakthrough significantly reduces the time required for upgrading Kong Gateway versions from hours to minutes. 

The Kong Gateway Operator can be installed by following the instructions in the documentation

An integrated blueprint for GraphQL from Kong and Apollo (Partnership)

Kong and Apollo, as leaders in the respective areas of API management and GraphQL, have partnered to author a detailed technical analysis of the next-generation API platforms. This joint paper provides API practitioners with the tools they need to navigate the complex API landscape and drive successful digital experiences for their users. 

We invite you to download a copy of this definitive guide and join Kong, Apollo, and our customers in building the secure, dynamic, and modern API platforms of the future. 

Next steps  

For additional details on Kong Konnect, refer to our documentation or start your free trial today!  Want to learn more about Kong Konnect and other exciting Kong updates? Check out our API Summit event today!