Getting Started with Istio Service Mesh

Getting Started with Istio Service Mesh

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If you’re a Developer and have been spending lot of time in developing apps recently, you already understand a whole new set of challenges related to Microservice architecture. Although there has been a shift from bloated monolithic apps to small, focused Microservices to speed up implementation and to improve resiliency but the fact is developers have to really worry about the challenges in integrating services in distributed systems which includes accountability for service discovery, load balancing, registration, fault tolerance, monitoring, routing, compliance and security.

Let us understand the challenges which Microservice bring to developers and operators in details. Consider a 1 stGeneration simple Service Mesh scenario. As shown below, Service (A) talks to Service (B). Instead of talking directly, the request gets routed through Nginx. The Nginx finds route in Consul (which is actually a service discovery tool) and automatic retries on HTTP 502’s happen.

But with the advent of growing number of microservices architecture, the below listed challenges arises for both developers as well as operation team which are discussed below -

  • How to enable these growing number of microservices to talk to each other?
  • How to enable these growing number of microservices to load-balance?
  • How to enable these growing number of microservices to provide role-based routing?
  • How to implement outgoing traffic on these microservices and test canary deployment?
  • How to manage complexity around these growing pieces of microservices?
  • How can operator implement fine-grained control of traffic behavior with rich-routing rules?
  • How shall one implement Traffic encryption, service-to-service authentication and strong identity assertions?

In nutshell, although you could put service discovery and retry logic into application or networking middleware but the fact is service discovery becomes tricky to get right.

Enter Istio’s Service Mesh

“Service Mesh” is one of the hottest buzzword of 2018. As its name suggest, it is a configurable infrastructure layer for a microservices app. It describes the network of microservices that make up applications and the interactions between them. It makes communication between service instances flexible, reliable, and fast. The mesh provides service discovery, load balancing, encryption, authentication and authorization, support for the circuit breaker pattern, and other capabilities.

Istio is a completely open source service mesh that layers transparently onto existing distributed applications. Istio v1.0 got announced last month and is ready for production. It is written completely in Go Language and is actually a platform, including APIs that let it integrate into any logging platform, or telemetry or policy system. This project adds a very tiny overhead to your system. It is being hosted on GitHub. Istio’s diverse feature set lets you successfully, and efficiently, run a distributed microservice architecture, and provides a uniform way to secure, connect, and monitor microservices.

Read the full story at Knowledgehut.

Originally published at on August 31, 2018.

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