Rabobank migrated from an outdated legacy API management system to a new modern platform built with Kong — migrating more than 2,000 APIs in around six months. To learn more about Rabobank’s API journey, we chatted with the Rabobank team at API Summit 2023.
Rabobank is a cooperative banking organization based in the Netherlands. With over 8,000 engineers across 250+ teams, they handle over 2 billion API calls per month.
Rabobank's legacy API management platform was outdated and unable to keep up with their vision, security needs, and developer experience goals.
“Our old platform could no longer fulfill industry standards, our vision, or our principles. Neither could it fulfill our security requirements,” said Eduardo Barra Cordeiro, Senior Product Owner. “Due to that, we were looking for a new platform — a new vendor that could support us with our own vision, as well with our own requirements”.
They decided to undertake a major migration to a new modern platform built on Kong's API gateway.
With Kong, Rabobank adopted a self-service model for API management, with centralized control but distributed ownership. Teams own and manage their own APIs on the platform.
“Kong is the basis for our new API management platform. Yet all the Kong components are embedded in a larger constellation tied together through automation,” said Yu-Chia Huang, Product Owner API Management. “With the introduction of Kong . . . we’ve elevated the organization towards another maturity level. We do this through registering ownership, through enforcing full automation, through validating compliance and quality, and last but not least, through introducing isolated gateways per team.”
The company completed migrating over 2,000 APIs from 250+ teams to the new platform within six months.
The results of the migration and new API management approach have been impressive:
Developer productivity increased significantly, with deployments up to 10x faster
Vastly improved API ownership tracking and governance
Rapid adoption across teams with over 250 onboarded in months
Higher developer satisfaction from self-service workflows
Increased standardization and reuse across the organization
By using a modern API management platform focused on automation and developer experience, Rabobank accelerated development cycles and delivery of new applications and services. The self-service model reduced friction and improved reliability and governance.
Rabobank aims to empower users to be end-to-end responsible for anything they do. But that becomes difficult if a team has to do everything — especially if they also have to manage integration platforms.
“One of our visions for API management platforms is ‘self-service to the max’. This means that we own and centrally manage the platform, which includes the gateways for both cloud and on-premises environments. However, the APIs are managed and owned by the 250 DevOps teams across Rabobank," said Frank Potter, API Management Engineer. “Therefore, we offer a fully automated and self-service journey for both the API providers and consumers.”
This self-service approach included fully automated workflows, like onboarding, deployments, and publishing using custom extensions that enforce standards. This empowers teams and reduces cognitive load.
“We’re managing the platform for them . . . but we make the teams responsible for the APIs that they run on those platforms. And that's actually really convenient for them,” said Frank van Valkenburg, Business Architect Integration. “We take away lots of the problems they have like compliance and adhering to standards. So that makes the platform really convenient for them to use without having to know lots of the technology under the hood.”
Developer experience, reusability, and discoverability
A focus on developer experience was critical, with the goal of "happy engineers." Improved discoverability, documentation, and ownership tracking made APIs easier to use.
The right API platform can make each API like a LEGO building block that is an infinitely reusable piece. The team at Rabobank said the move to Kong from their old API management platform has helped them improve discoverability which enhances reusability.
“Discoverability is easier, not only for platform users but for anyone: a product owner, a scrum master,” said Shweta Tiwari, Solution Architect. “Apart from that, good documentation. This was something that we were missing in our old platform, and that's something that is key to our deployment process right now.”
“This is only the beginning. We will be expanding our platform internationally and functionally,” said Amber Nobel, API Management Engineer. “We are proud of our platform, the teams who have worked so hard to achieve it, and everybody else who has helped us get to this milestone in such a short amount of time. We're looking forward to watching the community reap the benefits of the platform and grow with it.”
Next steps for the team at Rabobank include:
Becoming the standard platform for all APIs across the organization
Expanding the platform for international usage
Enhancing the platform with AI/ML capabilities.
Growing the developer community
Rabobank's API management migration lays the foundation for continued expansion globally and into new product areas. With a scalable platform built for performance, security, and developer productivity, Rabobank is well-positioned to deliver innovation faster.