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Kong vs Traefik: What are the differences?

Kong and Traefik are both popular API gateway solutions used for managing and securing microservices architectures. Let's explore the key differences between Kong and Traefik.

  1. Architecture: Kong follows a plugin-based architecture that allows developers to extend its functionality by adding custom plugins. On the other hand, Traefik follows a middleware-based architecture that provides a streamlined request processing flow by chaining middleware functions.

  2. Routing and Load Balancing: Kong supports a wide range of routing and load balancing algorithms, including round-robin, least connections, and consistent hashing. Traefik, on the other hand, offers dynamic routing and load balancing, leveraging service discovery mechanisms to automatically configure routes and balance traffic across services.

  3. Service Discovery: Kong requires an external service discovery mechanism, such as Consul or etcd, to dynamically discover and route requests to backend services. Traefik, on the other hand, comes with built-in support for service discovery, allowing it to automatically detect new services as they are deployed and configure routing accordingly.

  4. Health Checking: Kong provides basic health checking functionalities for backend services by periodically sending requests to endpoints and evaluating their responses. Traefik offers more advanced health checking capabilities, including support for custom health checks and passive health checks based on metrics from monitoring systems.

  5. TLS Termination: Kong supports TLS termination out-of-the-box, allowing it to handle SSL encryption and decryption for incoming requests. Traefik also supports TLS termination but offers additional features like automatic certificate provisioning using Let's Encrypt.

  6. Deployment Flexibility: Kong can be deployed as a standalone service or as a Kubernetes Ingress Controller, providing flexibility for various deployment scenarios. Traefik is designed with cloud-native environments in mind and can be easily integrated into container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes and Docker.

In summary, Kong, an open-source API gateway and microservices management layer, offers extensive features for API traffic control and security, while Traefik, a modern reverse proxy and load balancer, excels in its simplicity and automatic configuration, making it particularly suitable for dynamic containerized environments like Docker and Kubernetes.

Decisions about Kong and Traefik
Gabriel Pa

We switched to Traefik so we can use the REST API to dynamically configure subdomains and have the ability to redirect between multiple servers.

We still use nginx with a docker-compose to expose the traffic from our APIs and TCP microservices, but for managing routing to the internet Traefik does a much better job

The biggest win for naologic was the ability to set dynamic configurations without having to restart the server

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Prateek Mittal
Fullstack Engineer| Ruby | React JS | gRPC at Ex Bookmyshow | Furlenco | Shopmatic · | 4 upvotes · 297.4K views

Istio based on powerful Envoy whereas Kong based on Nginx. Istio is K8S native as well it's actively developed when k8s was successfully accepted with production-ready apps whereas Kong slowly migrated to start leveraging K8s. Istio has an inbuilt turn-keyIstio based on powerful Envoy whereas Kong based on Nginx. Istio is K8S native as well it's actively developed when k8s was successfully accepted with production-ready apps whereas Kong slowly migrated to start leveraging K8s. Istio has an inbuilt turn key solution with Rancher whereas Kong completely lacks here. Traffic distribution in Istio can be done via canary, a/b, shadowing, HTTP headers, ACL, whitelist whereas in Kong it's limited to canary, ACL, blue-green, proxy caching. Istio has amazing community support which is visible via Github stars or releases when comparing both.

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Pros of Kong
Pros of Traefik
  • 37
    Easy to maintain
  • 32
    Easy to install
  • 26
  • 21
    Great performance
  • 7
    Api blueprint
  • 4
    Custom Plugins
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
    Has a good plugin infrastructure
  • 2
  • 1
    Load balancing
  • 1
    Documentation is clear
  • 1
    Very customizable
  • 20
    Kubernetes integration
  • 18
    Watch service discovery updates
  • 14
    Letsencrypt support
  • 13
    Swarm integration
  • 12
    Several backends
  • 6
    Ready-to-use dashboard
  • 4
    Easy setup
  • 4
    Rancher integration
  • 1
    Mesos integration
  • 1
    Mantl integration

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Cons of Kong
Cons of Traefik
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 7
      Not very performant (fast)
    • 7
      Complicated setup

    Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

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    What is Kong?

    Kong is a scalable, open source API Layer (also known as an API Gateway, or API Middleware). Kong controls layer 4 and 7 traffic and is extended through Plugins, which provide extra functionality and services beyond the core platform.

    What is Traefik?

    A modern HTTP reverse proxy and load balancer that makes deploying microservices easy. Traefik integrates with your existing infrastructure components and configures itself automatically and dynamically.

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