Istio, an open-source service mesh platform, is the result of the collaboration between several different technology companies including IBM, Lyft, Cisco, Red Hat, and VMware.
A service mesh is a way to use and manage multiple networked microservices and Istio was designed to enable admins and developers to do this in a manner that is easy to configure, monitor, and build upon. With Istio, admins can worry less about things like security, load balancing, and authentication between services.
Some of the features that Istio offers include automatic load balancing for a variety of different types of network traffic including HTTP and TCP traffic among others, along with the ability to configure a multitude of rules and settings for the traffic.
Related, Istio provides admins with a variety of logging capabilities, which can be used to keep track of both inbound and outbound traffic from the platform. Admins can view logs and metrics that include the number of network requests sent and received per second, error rates, and network latency, among others.
Istio was also designed with security in mind, with the platform providing encrypted communication channels by default, along with the ability to configure authentication and authorization settings as well.
Additionally, Istio gives admins the ability to test new software or features using A/B testing and canary deployments, which makes rolling out updates less stressful, especially if a bug or issue is discovered post-deployment. And in the event a bug is discovered, admins could simply roll-back the latest update that was pushed, resolve any issues, and then re-deploy the update.
For those who are interested in trying Istio, Google is offering an alpha version of a Managed Istio service, which can be installed on Google’s Kubernetes Engine clusters. For those who do not currently use Google Cloud Platform services, Istio is available for download from the official Istio Github page, with more information about the service, in general, being available at Istio.io.
When working with a number of services across a distributed application, having an easy way to manage those services is important for both admins and developers. And with Istio, the management of those services has been made a bit easier, especially when it comes to configuring and managing network traffic and rules.
In addition, the testing and roll-out options available with Istio make it easy for those working in DevOps roles to ensure new software features are thoroughly tested with segmented user groups before being rolled out to all users, making the QA and deployment process a bit less stressful.
And the fact that Istio is an open-source project with 200 contributors, including a number of large technology companies means that users can expect continued improvements to the platform as time goes on.