DevOps / Kubernetes / Service Mesh / Sponsored / Contributed

How a Service Mesh Can Help DevOps Achieve Business Goals

28 Jan 2021 10:32am, by

Rose Sawvel
Rose is a creative and education-focused technology evangelist, steeped in the open source and cloud native ecosystems. As the content marketing lead for Aspen Mesh, she is passionate about identifying and transforming ideas into accessible, relevant and timely content that helps people better understand technology. When she’s not delving into how to talk about service mesh or microservices, she can be found professionally singing in operas around the globe.

Several years ago, we started to see companies make the shift from monolithic architectures to microservices and Kubernetes environments. But with any shift in technology, the change to microservices provided many with added benefits but also introduced new challenges. No one knew, for example, they’d need something to help manage service-to-service communication so their services could actually communicate with each other effectively. While this need helped drive the initial development of service mesh, the technology continues to evolve. Now, with increasing complexity and demands coupled with thinly stretched resources or teams without service mesh expertise, supported service mesh (service mesh that is tested, hardened and backed up by a team of experts outside of your own organization) is becoming a good solution for many — especially for DevOps teams.

“DevOps” is a term used to describe the business relationship between development and IT operations. Mostly, the term is used when referring to improving communication and collaboration between the two teams. But while Dev teams are mainly responsible for creating new functionality to drive business, Ops teams are often the unsung — but extremely important — hero behind the scenes.

In IT Ops, you’re on the hook for strategy development, system design and performance, quality control, direction and coordination of your team all while collaborating with the Dev team and other internal stakeholders to achieve your business’s goals and drive profitability. Ultimately, both the Dev and Ops teams will be responsible for helping to ensure teams are communicating effectively, systems are monitored correctly, high customer satisfaction is achieved and projects and issue resolution are completed on time.

In this post, we describe how a service mesh can not only help organizations support DevOps teams that have made the shift to microservices and Kubernetes environments, but can ultimately help the organization achieve its business goals.

Integrating a Service Mesh: Align with Business Objectives

As you think about adopting a service mesh, as we do at Aspen Mesh, keep in mind that your success over time is largely dependent on aligning with your company’s business objectives. Sharing business objectives with your service mesh team will help to ensure you get — and keep — the features and capabilities that you really need, when you need them and that they stay relevant.

What are some of your company’s business objectives? Here are three we’ve identified that a service mesh can help to streamline:

  1. Automating More Process (i.e. Removing Toil)

Automating processes frees up your team from mundane tasks so they can focus on more important projects. Automation can save you time and money, and a service mesh can help.

  1. Increasing Infrastructure Performance

Building and maintaining a battle-tested environment is key to creating a delightful experience for your end users. Ensuring they have a great experience directly impacts customer retention rates, and ultimately your company’s bottom line.

In addition, much of your time in DevOps is spent developing strategies to monitor systems and work through issue resolution as quickly as possible — whether issues pop up during the workday, or in the middle of the night. Fortunately, because service mesh comes with observability, security and resilience features, it can help alleviate these responsibilities, decreasing MTTD and MTTR.

  1. Maintaining Delivery to Customers

Reducing friction in the user experience is the name of the game these days, so user experience design (UX) and reliability are key to keeping your end users happy. If you’re considering adopting a service mesh, you’re invariably already using a microservices architecture, and you’re likely using Kubernetes clusters. But once those become too complex in production — or don’t have all the features you need — it’s time to add a service mesh into the mix. This is where service mesh’s observability features, such as cluster health monitoring, service traffic monitoring, easy debugging and root cause identification with distributed tracing, come into play. In addition, an intuitive UI is key to surfacing these features in a way that is easy to understand and manipulate, so make sure you’re looking at a service mesh that’s easy for your Dev team to use. This will help provide a more seamless (and secure) experience for your end users.

Evolution; Not Revolution

So, how do you actually go about approaching the process of integrating a service mesh? Firstly, making sure your Dev and Ops teams are aligned. But what will especially drive your success is to make sure you have both agility and stability. That can be a tall order, so it’s helpful to approach integrating a service mesh as evolution, rather than revolution. Three key areas to consider while you’re evaluating a service mesh include:

  • Mitigating risk.
  • Production readiness.
  • Policy frameworks.

Mitigating Risk

Let’s face it, risk can be terrifying, so it’s imperative to take steps to ensure that risk is mitigated as much as possible. The only time your company should be making headlines is when you have good news to announce. Ensuring security, compliance and data integrity is the way to go. With security and compliance at top of mind for many, it’s important to address security head on.

With a well-designed enterprise service mesh, you can expect plenty of security, compliance and policy features so it’s easy for your company to get a zero-trust network. Features can include anything from ensuring the principle of least privilege and secure default settings to technical features such as fine-grained role-based access control (RBAC) and incremental mutual transport layer security (mTLS).

Production Readiness

Your applications are ready to be used by your end users, and your technology stack needs to be ready too. What makes a real impact here is reliability. Service mesh features, such as dynamic request routing, fast retries, configuration vetters, circuit breaking and load balancing, greatly increase the resiliency of microservice architectures.

Support is also a feature that some enterprises will want to consider in light of whether service mesh expertise is a core in-house skill for the business or not. Having access to an expert support team can make a tremendous difference in your production readiness and your end users’ experiences.

Policy Frameworks

While configuration is useful for setting up how a system operates, policy is useful in dictating how a system responds when something happens. With a service mesh, the power of policy and configuration combined provides capabilities that can drive outcome-based behavior from your applications. A policy catalog can accelerate this behavior, while analytics examines policy violations and understands the best actions to take. This improves developer productivity with canary, authorization and service availability policies.

Better Together

Together, DevOps teams and service mesh can work to ensure the best possible experiences for your end users, and the best possible outcomes for your business. Microservices are great for DevOps, but the service-to-service communication these architectures depend on are complex to run and manage at production scale. With service mesh there to help scale, secure and monitor apps, Dev and Ops teams are free to do what they do best.

Feature image via Pixabay.

The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners. TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in the following companies: MADE, Real.

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