Google Cloud Platform

Istio reaches 1.0: ready for prod

istio 1.0

Today, Google Cloud is proud to announce, together with our collaborators, that the Istio open-source project has reached the 1.0 milestone. This is a key step toward delivering the Cloud Services Platform that we discussed last week, helping you manage your services in a hybrid world where some of your infrastructure runs on VMs and some in Kubernetes, some services run in the cloud and some on-premises.

Istio: a service mesh

Istio is at its heart a service mesh—software that layers transparently onto an existing distributed application. It collects logs, traces and telemetry, and adds security and policy without embedding client libraries. Moreover, Istio is also a platform, complete with APIs that let you integrate with systems for logging, telemetry and policy.

Istio delivers a service-based view of the service interactions across the mesh. Whereas traditional monitoring gives you low-level metrics such as nodes’ CPU consumption, Istio measures the actual traffic between services: requests per second, error rates and latency. It also generates a dependency graph so you can see how services affect one another.

With Istio, your DevOps team gets the tools it needs to run distributed apps smoothly. Istio does canary rollouts, letting you smoke-test a new build to make sure it’s performing well before ramping up. It also offers fault-injection, retry logic and circuit breaking so DevOps teams can do more testing and change network behavior at runtime to keep applications up and running.

And finally, Istio adds security. It can be used to layer mTLS on every call, adding encryption-in-flight and giving you the ability to authorize every single call on your cluster and in your mesh.

Istio in action

Istio provides foundational capabilities for your infrastructure, freeing developers to work on code that is critical to your business. But there’s only one way to prove that Istio is ready for the enterprise: by running real workloads on it in production. Already, there are at least a dozen companies running Istio in production, including several on GCP. We worked with them through early hurdles, incorporated their feedback, and they’re reaping the benefits of Istio already. A great example is Auto Trader UK, which used Istio to help accelerate their move to containers and the public cloud.


"Auto Trader UK is not only migrating from private cloud to public cloud, but also moving from virtual machines to Kubernetes. The level of control and visibility that Istio provides has enabled us to significantly de-risk this ambitious work, and in several cases has actually helped surface issues we were previously unaware of. We've been able to accelerate the delivery of capabilities such as mutual TLS, that previously would have taken significant engineering effort, allowing us to focus on our market differentiators."

- Karl Stoney, Delivery Infrastructure Lead, Auto Trader UK

A true joint effort

We first released Istio as open source last year, and what a year it’s been. Since that first 0.1 release, Istio has improved and matured significantly, with eight versions, 200+ contributors, and 4,000+ check-ins adding an ever growing set of functionality.

Getting to version 1.0 was truly a community-driven effort. IBM was a key collaborator and co-founder, and Lyft’s Envoy proxy is a key component of the project. Since then, the number of companies involved in Istio has skyrocketed, including Cisco, Red Hat, and VMware consolidating industry support with the goal of accelerating adoption and meeting the service mesh needs of their customers.

"The growth of Istio since its launch last year has been tremendous, and it’s quickly taking its place as the standard way to manage microservices in the cloud,” said Jason McGee, IBM Fellow and VP, IBM Cloud. “Our mission since Istio’s launch has been to enable everyone to succeed with microservices, especially in the enterprise. This is why we’ve focused the community around improving security and scale, and heavily leaned our contributions on what we’ve learned from building agile cloud architectures for companies of all sizes.”

- Jason McGee, IBM Fellow and VP, IBM Cloud 

"We see Istio's potential to be able to solve some of the most complex aspects of application development and deployment. It brings a control plane for service mesh, cluster orchestration, and network control that will support and enable developers to focus on the more important aspects of their application development. We are looking forward to leveraging Istio in Red Hat OpenShift to enable developers to deploy their applications in a more secure and efficient manner." 

- Brian 'Redbeard' Harrington, product manager, Istio, Red Hat

“VMware has been an integral part of the community developing Istio service mesh. We see great potential in Istio’s service-based approach to connectivity, security, and observability. We believe it will become an infrastructure cornerstone, spanning across vSphere and Kubernetes platforms and multiple private and public clouds, and helping our enterprise customers improve development efficiencies and deliver on their SLAs / SLOs in a secure manner. Istio’s application layer complements the network virtualization layer, and together allow enterprises to achieve defense in depth, improve performance and scalability, and speed time to application value.” 

- Pere Monclus, CTO Network and Security, VMware

We’re also thrilled with the number of companies writing adapters for Istio—from observability software from SolarWinds and Datadog, to deployment tools from Weaveworks and CodeFresh, to policy and security offerings from Aspenmesh and Octarine. While Istio is transparent to application developers, it provides a standard integration interface for anyone writing observability tools or policy engines.

Working and integrating with other open source projects in the community drives our success, as well. Integrations with SPIFFE, the Open Policy Agent and OpenTracing all improve the state of open source and the lives of developers.

Istio on GCP

While the open-source Istio project is a major undertaking, we’re also intent on making it especially easy to use on Google Cloud Platform. Last week at Google Cloud Next we announced the alpha release of Managed Istio: open-source Istio that’s automatically installed and upgraded on your Kubernetes Engine clusters as a part of the Cloud Services Platform. Managed Istio will help provide the visibility, security and control you need over services running in hybrid environments, and it integrates with other Google products like Stackdriver and Apigee.

Achieving 1.0 is just a first step, both for the project and for us at Google Cloud. We have ambitious plans for adding features and improving Istio’s usability with  the ultimate goal of delivering a complete set of tools to manage all of your services, so that you can focus on writing software and running a business.

To find out more about Istio and how to get started using it on GCP, please visit cloud.google.com/istio.