Case Studies

SoulCycle Spins Up Kong to Power its Podium Platform

Get Started with Kong

SoulCycle logo

Challenges

  • Inadequate release velocity and development agility
  • Managing services across multiple clouds and platforms
  • Difficulty scaling rapidly with demand
  • Challenging service discovery

    Solution

    • Kong with Kubernetes for 30+ microservices and nine environments
    • Single API platform unifying Kubernetes microservices and monoliths across multi-cloud
    • Horizontal and vertical scaling with high-availability Kong clusters
    • Unified entrance point for all Podium services

      Results

      • Orders of magnitude increase in development velocity
      • Seamless communication across services in AWS and GCP
      • Fault tolerant and horizontally scalable across all environments
      • Streamlined developer onboarding and simplified management

        SoulCycle offers cycling-based fitness classes across the U.S., Canada and Europe. SoulCycle is a growing fitness market leader with more than 50,000 riders a week attending classes. With aggressive growth targets, SoulCycle needed to leverage technology to better integrate with partners and enable expansion into new business models. Challenging this vision, SoulCycle’s monolithic architecture presented a critical bottleneck to service development and scalability.

        To address these challenges, Jason Rodriguez, VP of Engineering, and his team created the SoulCycle Podium Platform to support agile development for all internal and externally-facing applications. To cope with the rapid growth of Podium, SoulCycle began transitioning several of its applications to a service-oriented architecture, leveraging containerization and Kubernetes. As part of this transition, Rodriguez and his team quickly realized the need for an API platform that could efficiently support SoulCycle’s more than 30 services, utilities, and monoliths across multiple clouds at scale. “We needed to accelerate our development process, and containerization was the best route to accomplish that,” Rodriguez said. “We have a number of legacy monolithic applications, and as we evaluated API platform solutions, we knew we needed something that could support what we have today and what we’re building with Kubernetes and Podium.” To enable seamless coordination between its traditional and cloud-native service architectures, SoulCycle turned to Kong Enterprise to serve as its Kubernetes ingress and API gateway

        Improving Development Velocity with Kong and Kubernetes

        With SoulCycle historically built using PHP and a monolithic architecture, the engineering team couldn’t get the development agility they needed to meet their aggressive goals. Aiming to release earlier and more often, the team turned to containerization and Kubernetes as a way to focus developers on writing code, not maintaining infrastructure. Using Kong gives engineers control to write custom logic within their plugin architecture, making the transition from legacy systems to microservices easier.

        “With a large engineering team, you can’t have one or two gatekeepers handling all release management and code flow through the system,” Rodriguez said. “Kong Enterprise now handless ingress for Kubernetes and sits in front of all of our services. Using Kong, we went from pushing five to six releases to production per week with our legacy system to more than 650 releases within the past 30 days alone on Podium.”

        Unifying Multi-Cloud API Management

        One of the primary goals of the Podium platform is to remove reliance on a single cloud vendor. With legacy services running on Amazon Web Services and containerized services running on Google Cloud Platform and it’s managed Kubernetes product, SoulCycle needed an API platform that could broker traffic seamlessly across clouds. “As we evaluated API platforms, it was critical that the vendor we chose could simultaneously support our existing services in AWS with what we were building in Kubernetes on GCP,” Rodriguez said. “Kong offered us the ability to unify services across clouds, which gave us the flexibility to build new services iteratively and how we wanted without fear of cloud lock-in.”

        Achieving Enterprise-Grade Scalability Unifying Multi-Cloud API Management

        SoulCycle’s growth initiatives include a number of partnerships with video and music content providers, such as Apple Music. Consequently, scalability was a key criterion for SoulCycle during its evaluation of API platforms. Kong Enterprise’s lightweight architecture gave Rodriguez’s team confidence that it would scale to support high performance regardless of demand. “We’re currently processing a huge volume of API calls per year and know that will increase as we onboard more content partners,” Rodriguez said.

        “When we looked at how different vendors would perform as volume increased, Kong Enterprise demonstrated the best ability to maintain low latency while horizontally scaling with demand.”

        Jason Rodriguez, VP of Engineering

        Seamless Authentication

        “When we made the transition to microservices, one major concern was authentication. Kong’s support for OpenID Connect (OIDC) and OIDC allows us to easily integrate authentication appropriately across services.”

        Support for Custom Functionality

        “We use a lot of Kong’s ready-built plugins, but knowing we can build custom plugins is important to us. Demands and needs can shift rapidly, and Kong gives us the flexibility to make a plugin for functionality if we need it.”

        Dynamic Configuration Changes

        “We’re still transitioning a lot of services over from monoliths, and that means a lot of rapid iterations. Kong allows us to rapidly implement changes without any hiccups or service disruptions.”

        Cross-Cloud Mobility

        “As we introduce new functionality and break apart our monolith, Kong lets us gradually shift traffic across environments. For services that are being moved across clouds, we can use the Canary Plugin to migrate traffic without downtime.”

        Ultra Low Latency

        “Delivering low latency across all of our services is critical. With Kong, we were able to reduce latency by more than half even while scaling the Podium platform.”

        Podium is powering SoulCycle to move into different areas of business — not just butts on bikes, but bikes in more places and soul in more places. Kong is a key part of us being able to do that.”

        Jason Rodriguez, VP of Engineering