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InfoQ Homepage News Q&A on Istio, Microservices and Kubernetes with Lachie Evenson of Microsoft from Kubecon 2017

Q&A on Istio, Microservices and Kubernetes with Lachie Evenson of Microsoft from Kubecon 2017

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At the recently concluded KubeCon in Austin, TX, attended by over 4000 engineers, Kubernetes was front, left and center. Istio seemed to be the second most popular topic discussed in many of the sessions and hallway conversations. Istio is a platform for microservices built on Kubernetes (currently) and provides for canary, red/black deployments, load balancing, intelligent routing and in-depth telemetry and reporting.

InfoQ caught up with Lachie Evenson, program manager for Azure Container Services at Microsoft and contributor to the Istio project, who delivered an introductory talk on the Istio platform at Kubecon. In addition to Istio, he talked about microservices, Kubernetes and how it's relevant to enterprise developers and architects.

InfoQ: Istio activity at Kubecon was at a record high. Any particular reason(s) for this?

Lachie Evenson: This is a sign of maturity within the Kubernetes community. As the challenges associated with Kubernetes cluster deployment and operations are simplified, we are now focusing on building platforms on top of Kubernetes to support microservices. This is where Istio and service meshes come in.

InfoQ: Can you describe the overall synergy between Istio and Microservices in general, and Kubernetes and Istio in particular?

Evenson: Istio is a platform to build, deploy and manage microservices. Kubernetes provides runtime abstractions for Istio to build upon. Istio provides a feature set for operators and developers alike. Istio enables microservices deployment, management and introspection over time.

InfoQ: The term service mesh pops up frequently when talking about Istio. Developers can create their own service mesh on Kubernetes, instead of using Istio, can’t they?

Evenson: You can certainly roll your own service mesh on Kubernetes and I’ve seen many folks do this successfully. These service meshes are typically a collection of open source projects running together in a bespoke fashion to suit the needs of the business. Istio is a platform with all components being delivered as microservices themselves. Istio is designed end-to-end and provides a cohesive user experience that is modular and extensible.

InfoQ: If I am a developer or architect in an enterprise working on a legacy application that mostly works, is Istio relevant to me at all?

Evenson: Absolutely. One of the challenges with legacy lift and shift is that application developers need to learn the new system (Kubernetes for example) which presents a large learning curve in some cases. Istio has no requirement to have deep knowledge of Kubernetes and provides developer tools to enable self service for each microservice. You may not even know that you’re using Istio at all.

InfoQ: Can you provide more technical details about what a sidecar pattern is and how it’s a central tenet in Istio?

Evenson: Istio in its simplest form is a control-plane running with an Envoy data-plane. Envoy is required to ingress/egress traffic on the service-mesh. The sidecar pattern is for Envoy to be delivered and manipulate Pod routing such that all ingress/egress traffic goes via Envoy. This allows for seamless onboarding of your applications from a user perspective.

InfoQ: Istio is not meant just for Kubernetes, is it? Does it work with other platforms such as Cloud Foundry, OpenShift and so on?

Evenson: Yes. Kubernetes is just one platform abstraction. Plans for others are under way, for example Cloud Foundry and Mesos. This highlights the platform abstraction model of these runtime orchestrators.

InfoQ: What is the roadmap for Istio?

Evenson: I think production readiness for the Istio platform is one of the short-term goals. More Mixer adapters. I  suggest joining the community  and attending the meetings for a more up-to-date set of roadmap items.

Keynote sessions and other recordings are available via the schedule for KubeCon.

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