Networking Vendors Flock To Embrace Open-Source Istio Service Mesh

In the emerging landscape known as Cloud-Native, networking has often been a challenge.

With cloud-native technologies, anchored at the core by the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system, a series of disparate containers can be connected together to enable a microservices architecture for distributed application delivery.

Managing networking for containers can become complex with larger applications, which is a challenge that the open-source Istio service mesh effort aims to help solve. With the service mesh approach, rather than each individual container needing its own networking, Istio disaggregates microservices networking connectivity, enabling services to be connected in a mesh.

Istio had its 1.0 release on July 31. At the recent KubeCon + CloudNativeCon NA 2018 conference that ran from Dec. 11-13, several networking vendors talked about their formal support, with different efforts.

AVI Networks

Avi Networks announced its Universal Service Mesh platform, which provides Istio integrated traffic management of both containerized applications and traditional workloads.

“The Avi Universal Service Mesh exemplifies our original vision of enterprise-grade services for traditional and modern applications across multi-cloud environments,” Ranga Rajagopalan, CTO and co-founder at Avi Networks, wrote in a media advisory. “Integrating Avi’s platform with Istio extends and enhances the security, observability, and traffic management features of the service mesh across clouds and application architectures beyond containers.”

For more information on Avi Networks Universal Service mesh, go here


Amazon Web Services has its own service mesh implementation known as App Mesh, which the cloud giant talked about at Kubecon.

“With App Mesh, the logic for monitoring and controlling communications between microservices is implemented as a proxy that runs alongside each microservice, instead of being built into the microservice code,” AWS stated in a media advisory. “The proxy handles all of the network traffic into and out of the microservice and provides consistency for visibility, traffic control, and security capabilities to all of your microservices.”

AWS App Mesh is currently available as a public preview.


F5 Networks announced its Aspen Mesh effort, providing an implementation of the Istio project. F5 is looking to provide an intuitive user interface for Istio with Aspen Mesh, alongside advanced policy and configuration options.

Shawn Wormke, Incubation Lead for the Aspen Mesh effort, commented that DevOps represents two teams, Development and Operations, coming together to deliver better products more rapidly.

“Service mesh is a glue that helps unite these teams and provides one place in the stack that you can manage microservices at runtime without changes to the application or cluster,” Wormke wrote in a media advisory. “The result is a platform that empowers application developers to focus on their code and allows operators to more easily provide developers with a resilient, scalable, and secure environment.”

The Aspen Mesh is available to try out as a free beta, here.


Google is also embracing Istio, providing beta support on its GKE (Google Kubernetes Engine) service. In a blog post, Chen Goldberg, director of engineering for Google Cloud, commented that Istio on GKE works with both new and existing container deployments.

“It lets you incrementally roll out features, such as Istio security, bringing the benefits of Istio to your existing deployments,” she wrote. “It also simplifies Istio lifecycle management by automatically upgrading your Istio deployments when newer versions become available.”


VMware announced its new NSX Service Mesh, which also uses Istio at its base. NSX is VMware’s SDN networking technology, providing connectivity for traditional virtual machines as well as SDN-enabled architectures. With the NSX Service Mesh, VMware is embracing Istio and aligning it with its own larger NSX efforts.

“In short, NSX Service Mesh will enable visibility, control, and security for services, data, and users at the API level,” Scott Goodman, product marketing manager at VMware, wrote in a blog post. “This acts as a natural evolution of cloud-native constructs and will act as an extension of the NSX-T Data Center platform’s replication of networking and security services in software, which is applied directly to containers via the Container Network Interface (CNI).”

NSX Service mesh is now available as an early beta. For more information, go here.

Istio Architecture

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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