Istio graduates

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The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) today announced that Istio, the open source service mesh originally developed by Google and IBM and built on top of Lyft’s Envoy proxy, has graduated from its status as an incubating project and moved to join the likes of Kubernetes, Prometheus and fellow service mesh Linkerd as a CNCF Graduated Project.

“Service mesh adoption has been steadily rising over the past few years as cloud native adoption has matured across industries,” said Chris Aniszczyk, CTO of CNCF. “Istio has helped drive part of this maturation, and the project has progressed quickly since joining CNCF late last year. We look forward to watching and supporting this continued growth as the Istio team adds new features and simplifies the service mesh experience.”

The history of Istio and the CNCF is a bit complicated. Google and IBM launched the project back in 2018, but unlike other projects, it took a long time before Google brought it under the auspice of a foundation. It was only a little bit more than a year ago that Google donated the project to the CNCF. Given that Google donated Kubernetes to the CNCF barely a year after the organization was founded, that struck many people as odd and may have hampered Istio’s adoption.

“With the rise of microservices architectures as the de facto pattern for authoring modern applications, connecting, observing and securing the complex landscape of containers and services has become a challenge for engineers,” said Cameron Etezadi, director of Engineering, Google Cloud. “Google is proud of our role in the creation and development of Istio as a comprehensive solution to this hard problem. Istio‘s graduation, as well as its leading position as the world’s most adopted service mesh technology, reinforces our belief that it should be easy for everyone to benefit from secure, robust service-based applications.”

The CNCF now has two service mesh projects under its umbrella and there is a bit of competition between the two, especially given that a number of companies offer commercial services around them, not in the least Buoyant, the company behind Linkerd, which features a detailed breakdown of the difference between the two projects on its site, and, which bets on Istio. The CNCF has always been happy to host competing projects, though (and on the other side of that coin, during the CNCF’s recent KubeCon/CloudNativeCon in Amsterdam, Aniszczyk told me that he believes the CNCF may have to get a little bit faster at archiving failing projects).

Istio has seen quite a bit of development in that last year under the CNCF. Back in September, and Google announced what is essentially the next evolution of Istio, the so-called “ambient mesh,” which will make it significantly easier for new users to adopt Istio and harden the project’s security posture.

“We are immensely proud of Istio reaching the Graduated level within CNCF. It is a clear testament to the dedication and collaborative spirit of our vibrant community, as well as the value the project provides to our users,” said Louis Ryan, CTO of and co-creator of Istio. “At Solo, we are proud to have worked alongside the community and contributors since the project’s inception to grow Istio from an ambitious idea into a mature and stable service mesh solving large real-world problems. We want to thank everyone who has contributed to this moment, and we look forward to shaping the future of application networking together.”


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