Sky Italia's API-Led Transformation: More Scalable, Resilient, Future-Proof Architecture

At API Summit 2023, cloud platform engineers Leonardo Migliorini and Stefano Galimberti discussed how Sky Italia modernized its architecture and addressed the limitations of legacy systems to improve performance, scalability, and observability while fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration.


Sky Italia is a prominent media and entertainment company that operates as part of the Sky Group, which is a subsidiary of Comcast. As a key player in the Italian media market, Sky Italia has revolutionized the viewing habits of millions of Italians and has become synonymous with innovation in the industry.

Recent developments from Sky Italia include the release of Sky Glass, a next-generation Smart TV that seamlessly integrates Sky content, free-to-air channels, and streaming services into a single, user-friendly interface. Additionally, Sky Italia offers Sky Wi-Fi, an ultra-broadband service, further expanding its reach and offerings in the market.

The company's focus on innovation and customer experience has solidified its position as a leader in Italy’s media and entertainment industries. As Sky Italia continues to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape, it remains committed to delivering cutting-edge solutions and high-quality content to its customers.

Challenge: The limitations and impact of legacy systems

Sky Italia's journey toward a more thorough and scalable solution began with a clear understanding of the challenges faced. The company recognized that its legacy systems weren’t equipped to handle the high traffic peaks occurring during specific times of the year, particularly after commercial campaigns. 

“Our systems based on legacy technologies were simply unable to handle these traffic peaks, causing slowdowns when we were lucky and critical failures in the worst scenarios,” Migliorini said. “We also observed that we had a significant decrease in expected sales.”

In addition, Sky Italia's personnel were often tied up in trying to maintain the stability of the systems during these critical periods. This meant that valuable time and resources were diverted away from developing new products, features, and initiatives that could generate additional value for the company.

Recognizing the need for change, the team at Sky Italia defined the scope of their solution journey into a specific path. They aimed to move away from its legacy systems and embrace a more modern, scalable architecture that could handle high-traffic peaks without compromising performance or user experience. To achieve this, Sky Italia set out to migrate its systems to the cloud, with a focus on developing an in-house solution that was both cost-effective and future-proof.

The scope of the solution journey encompassed two main aspects: a tactical solution and a strategic solution.

Solution: A two-pronged approach to transformation

To address the challenges posed by its legacy systems, Sky Italia embarked on a transformative journey that involved the implementation of both a tactical and strategic solution. 

By adopting a two-pronged approach, the company aimed to provide immediate relief for critical issues while laying the foundation for a more robust, scalable, and future-proof architecture. 

As the first step in their two-pronged approach, the tactical solution aimed to provide immediate relief for the most critical issues caused by high traffic peaks. 

Sky Italia identified a subset of 10 to 20 APIs invoked by their digital channels responsible for a significant portion of the critical traffic. To handle this traffic more effectively, the team introduced an application load balancer with a specific set of rules. This would route the critical traffic to a new microservice cluster hosted in the cloud, which was specifically designed to scale according to demand. The remaining traffic was directed back to the original on-premise service bus. This approach allowed Sky Italia to handle up to 40% of the total traffic coming from digital channels.

To minimize the impact on other teams and systems, Sky Italia performed a pure porting of the services, maintaining the same interfaces and only changing the URL endpoints. Since the digital channels were in the same cloud environment, no additional latency was introduced. Although it wasn’t perfect, this tactical solution was a success for both developers and customers. 

“With this working solution, we helped gain commitment for full modernization of the integration later,” Migliorini said.

This was the optimal outcome for the next phase of their future-proofing plan. 

Strategic: Adopting Kong Gateway and an API-first approach

The second part of their approach was the strategic solution. This development was built on two key pillars: technological innovation and a mindset renewal.

“We needed an API gateway that was able to scale to hundreds and thousands of APIs with great performance and that provided us the tools we needed — like centralized authentication, a configuration for request validation, request/response transformation, and the like,” Galimberti said. “And so the choice was actually a no-brainer. We chose Kong, and this turned out to be an excellent choice.”

In addition, they promoted the use of OpenAPI specification for defining and sharing API interfaces, enabling better collaboration and consistency.

When it came to spreading a new mindset — arguably the most challenging part of the process — Sky Italia adopted an API-first design approach, ensuring that all teams agreed on a shared definition of each API and adhered to common standards and guidelines.

The team implemented a full API lifecycle management process, covering design, development, testing, deployment, and versioning. Architectural integration patterns were defined to standardize how systems should be integrated for different scenarios, such as synchronous and asynchronous communication. Sky Italia encouraged the redesign of existing APIs from scratch whenever possible to align with the new standards and guidelines.


The combination of tactical and strategic solutions allowed the team at Sky Italia to successfully modernize their architecture, improve scalability, and enhance the overall performance of their systems. The tactical solution provided immediate relief for critical traffic, while the strategic solution set the stage for a more maintainable and adaptable architecture in the long run. 

By addressing both short-term and long-term challenges, Sky Italia ensured a smooth transition to a more efficient and future-proof system, enabling them to better serve their customers and drive innovation in the media and entertainment industry.

“The API latency was better than forecasted . . . and that was thanks to Kong,” Galimberti said. “Thanks to Kong, we had the tools that were very important for the spread of the new [future-focused] mindset.”

Kong Gateway provided valuable tools, such as the Developer Portal, which effectively promoted API usage across all software centers within the company. Moreover, the new architecture enhanced the observability of APIs, enabling better monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities.

Lessons learned

To help ensure API quality throughout the lifecycle, a dedicated team was assigned to conduct API reviews, and automatic tools were employed to perform checks, such as validating OpenAPI specification files. 

To overcome resistance to change among software centers, the team offered shared knowledge and guidance, giving successfully developed examples and emphasizing the mutual benefits and company-wide impact of the new approach. 

Finally, the company aimed to achieve 100% new or redesigned APIs. To reach this goal, they encouraged projects to sponsor API redesigns whenever modifications to legacy APIs were required.


Sky Italia's journey from integration to service exposure is a compelling case study for organizations seeking to modernize their architecture and adapt to the ever-changing demands of the digital landscape. By embarking on a transformative journey, Sky Italia successfully addressed the limitations of its legacy systems and laid the foundation for a more scalable, resilient, and future-proof architecture.

For more on Sky Italia’s modernization efforts, see how Sky Italia transformed into an APIOps-led organization with Kong.