How exactly can a service mesh help DevOps teams? Our three co-founders were each recently interviewed by The New Stack Maker’s podcast, where they each addressed how service mesh can help DevOps teams. Below are some key takeaways that we hope will be useful for your team. 

1. Istio Boosts Engineering Efficiency 

In the first of this three-part podcast series, Neeraj Poddar, Aspen Mesh’s Chief Architect and Dan Berg, IBM Cloud’s Distinguished Engineer, discussed how the core capabilities of Istio can make engineering teams more efficient.

Microservices have provided new benefits for organizations, including better security and increased uptime, but on the flip side, there is also added infrastructure complexity. Service meshes like Istio have emerged as a way to provide better management of this complexity at scale. The core capabilities of the Istio service mesh—connection, security, control, and observability—help make engineering teams more efficient in many ways, and especially when it comes to running multicluster applications. “It’s a natural evolution to fit where we are today with cloud native applications based on containers,” Berg said. 

Providers like Aspen Mesh also play a role in helping DevOps teams take advantage of Istio’s traffic management, security, and general networking capabilities, said Berg. “Generally speaking, there are traffic management capabilities and things like that a developer would use, because you’re defining your routes and characteristics specific to your application, as well as the rollout of your deployment,” Berg said.

The future of Istio in terms of how it builds upon running multicluster applications on Kubernetes should include evolving to “talk to the language of applications,” Poddar said. “That’s where the real value will kick in and service mesh will still be a key player there, but it will be a part of an ecosystem where other pieces are also important and all of them are giving that information and we are correlating it,” Poddar said. “We’re still very early, as people are just getting used to understanding service meshes. So telling them that we need to coordinate all of this information in an automated way is scary — but we will get there.”

Listen to the podcast here.


2. The Importance of Knowing When You Need a Service Mesh 

In the second part of the series, Aspen Mesh’s CTO, Andrew Jenkins, and Tetrate’s Founding Engineer, Zack Butcher, talked about how service mesh is the gateway to cloud migration, and when you do—or don’t—need a service mesh.

A service mesh helps organizations migrate to cloud native environments by bridging the management gap between on-premises data center deployments to containerized-cloud environments. Once implemented, a service mesh relieves the complexity of this process. And for many DevOps team members, the switch to a cloud native environment and Kubernetes cannot be done without a service mesh.

In a typical environment split between on-premises servers and multicloud deployments, a service mesh provides the “common substrate,” by enabling “communication of those components that need to communicate across these different environments,” Butcher said.

There are also some cases where a service mesh may not be needed for DevOps. “I don’t think it’s honest to say, ‘hey, everybody absolutely must use this new thing,’” Jenkins said. “There are actually problems where you don’t need Kubernetes and you may not need containers at all or if you look at serverless, for example.”

As organizations consider which technologies to adopt in order to meet their software development and deployment goals, there are many tools and solutions to choose from. Ultimately, organizations are turning to service meshes as an answer for “not just a deployment problem,” but as a way to “integrate all the pieces together” during a cloud native journey, explained Jenkins.

Listen to the podcast here.


3. Service Mesh Amplifies Business Value 

Shawn Wormke, Aspen Mesh VP and General Manager, and Tracy Miranda, CloudBees Director of Open Source Community, met with the TNS team to discuss how exactly a service mesh can amplify business value for organizations in the third and final installment of this three-part podcast series.

Service meshes are increasingly providing DevOps teams with new ways to gain observability into the events that cause application deployment and management problems. Ideally, a service mesh should also help DevOps teams determine who should take the appropriate actions.

“What we’ve seen with our customers is they want to move [the maintenance work] down underneath the application, and let the application owners really focus on business-value code,” said Wormke. “They also want to let the operations team that is the ‘Ops’ part of DevOps really work on providing them the tooling and the common infrastructure it takes to run those things in production in a large enterprise environment.”

Service meshes offer powerful capabilities that teams can exploit, once they get past the learning curve. “We just need an easy way to get [service meshes] into folks’ hands and help them steer clear of the pitfalls so that they can get to all the real magic that you can start to do once you’ve got this orchestration and all these things connected,” said Miranda. “You can start to do pretty clever things.”

Listen to the podcast here.