Is your organization ready to fully embrace the service mesh? Consider these best practices to ease the transition as you modernize applications with a microservices architecture. Addressing each one will not only smooth your adoption of Istio but will help you transform your organizational culture and simplify workflows across the enterprise.
Managing Microservices Sprawl
Adopting a microservices architecture brings a host of benefits, including increased autonomy, flexibility and modularity. But the process of decoupling a monolithic application into smaller services introduces new obstacles: How do you know what’s running? How do you roll out new versions of your services? How do you secure and monitor all those containers?
To address these challenges, you can use a service mesh: a dedicated infrastructure layer that helps you connect, secure and collect telemetry across distributed applications. A service mesh transparently oversees and monitors all traffic for your application, typically through a set of network proxies that sit alongside each microservice. Adopting a service mesh allows you to decouple your application from the network, and in turn, allows your operations and development teams to work independently.
Adopting Istio, the Most Widely Deployed Service Mesh
Istio is a popular open source service mesh platform used for managing, securing and monitoring microservices. This blog post assumes that readers have a fair knowledge about what both a service mesh and Istio are. Istio’s official documentation does a great job in explaining this. When adopting Istio, it is important to follow best practices to ensure a successful implementation. Here are five best practices for Istio adoption based on Tetrate’s experience deploying the service mesh across industries:
- Start with a clear use case: Before adopting Istio, define a clear use case or set of use cases that address specific challenges with your microservices architecture. Common use cases include traffic management, security, observability and resiliency. Focusing on specific objectives will help you implement Istio more effectively.
- Incremental rollout: Don’t attempt to migrate all of your services to Istio at once. Instead, adopt a gradual, incremental rollout strategy. Start with a small number of services or a less critical environment to gain experience and confidence in Istio’s capabilities. This approach allows you to identify and address any issues early in the process.
- Effective traffic management: One of Istio’s key features is traffic management, including traffic routing, load balancing and fault injection. Utilize Istio’s capabilities to intelligently route traffic, implement canary deployments and manage A/B testing. Ensure that your traffic management rules are well-defined and tested thoroughly.
- Security policies and access control: Istio provides robust security features such as encryption, identity-based authorization and access control. Define and enforce security policies to protect your microservices. Implement mTLS to secure communication between services and use Istio’s access control policies to control access to services. Regularly review and update security policies as your microservices evolve.
- Observability and monitoring: Implement comprehensive observability and monitoring practices with Istio. Use tools like Prometheus and Grafana for collecting metrics and visualizing them effectively. Leverage distributed tracing with tools like Jaeger or Zipkin to gain insights into the flow of requests across your microservices. Use those insights to establish baseline service level objectives (SLOs) and ensure that error rates, latency and other performance metrics are within acceptable ranges as part of a broader service-level agreement (SLA).
Consider all five of these lessons as you embark on your service mesh journey. Remember that Istio is a powerful tool with many features, so it’s essential to tailor its adoption to your specific environment. Regularly review and update your Istio configurations as your microservices evolve and your organization’s requirements change.
If you’re new to service mesh and Kubernetes security, Tetrate has a bunch of free online courses available at Tetrate Academy that will quickly get you up to speed with Istio and Envoy. If you’re looking for the surest way to get to production with Istio, check out Tetrate Istio Distribution (TID), Tetrate’s hardened, fully upstream Istio distribution, with FIPS-verified builds and support available. It’s a great way to get started with Istio knowing you have a trusted distribution to begin with, an expert team supporting you, and also have the option to get to FIPS compliance quickly if you need to.
Teatrate’s partner Venafi, recently published 5 Stages to Istio Production Success.