The Top 3 Service Mesh Developments in 2020
In 2019, we saw service mesh move beyond an experimental technology and into a solution that organizations are beginning to learn is an elemental building block for any successful Kubernetes deployment. Adoption of service mesh at scale, across companies large and small, began to gain steam. As the second wave of adopters watched the cutting edge adopters trial and succeed with service mesh technology, they too began to evaluate service mesh to address the challenges Kubernetes leaves on the table.
In tandem with growing adoption of service mesh, 2019 offered a burgeoning service mesh market. Istio and Linkerd keep chugging along, and the tooling and vendor ecosystem around Istio almost tripled throughout the year. But there were also many new players that entered the market providing alternative approaches to solving layer seven networking challenges. Meshes, such as those Kuma and Maesh offer, have emerged to provide different approaches to service mesh in order to address various edge use cases. We also saw the introduction of tools like Service Mesh Interface spec and Meshery attempt to engage an early market that is flourishing due to immense opportunity, but has yet to contract while key players are waiting for the market to choose the winners first. Adjacent projects like Network Service Mesh bring service mesh principles to lower layers of the stack.
While there is still much to be settled in the service mesh space, the value of service mesh as a technology pattern is clear, as evidenced by the recently released “Voice of the Enterprise: DevOps,” survey conducted by 451 Research.
While still a nascent market, the interest in and plan to adopt service mesh as a critical piece of infrastructure is quickly catching up to that of Kubernetes and containers.
Service Mesh in 2020: The Top 3 Developments
- A quickly growing need for service mesh
Kubernetes is exploding. It has become the preferred choice for container orchestration in the enterprise and in greenfield deployments. There are real challenges that are causing brownfields to lag behind, but those are being explored and solved. Yes, Kubernetes is a nascent technology. And yes, much of the world is years away from adopting it. But it’s clear that Kubernetes has become — and will continue to be — a dominant force in the world of software.
If Kubernetes has won and the scale and complexity of Kubernetes-based applications will increase, there is a tipping point where service mesh becomes all but required to effectively manage those applications.
- Istio Will Be Hard to Beat
There’s likely room for a few other contenders in the market, but we will see the market consolidation begin in 2020. In the long term, it’s probable that we’ll see a Kubernetes-like situation where a winner emerges and companies begin to standardize around that winner. It’s conceivable that service mesh may not be the technology pattern that is picked to solve layer 7 networking issues. But if that does happen, it seems likely that Istio becomes the de facto service mesh. There are many arguments for and against this, but the most telling factor is the ecosystem developing around Istio. Almost every major software vendor has an Istio solution or integration, and the Istio open source community far surpasses any others in terms of activity and contributions.
- Use Cases, Use Cases, Use Cases
The year 2019 was one where problems apt for service mesh to solve were identified. Early adopters chose the top-two or -three capabilities they wanted from service mesh and dove in. In the past year, the three most commonly requested solutions have been:
- Traffic management.
2020 will be the year that core service mesh use cases emerge and are used as models for the next wave of adopters to implement service mesh solutions.
The top three uses cases that our customers ask for are:
- Observability to better understand cluster status, quickly debug and more deeply understand systems to architect more resilient and stable systems moving forward.
- Leveraging service mesh policy to drive intended application behaviors.
- Enforcing and proving a secure and compliant environment.
- Technologies like WebAssembly making it possible to distribute existing functionality to data plane sidecars, as well as build new intelligence and programmability.
If you are already using a service mesh, you understand the value it brings. If you’re considering a service mesh, pay close attention to this space and the number of uses cases will make the real-world value proposition clearer in the year ahead. At Aspen Mesh, we’re always happy to talk about service mesh, the best path to implementation and how our customers are solving problems. Feel free to reach out!