Google's rent-a-cloud biz revs Istio for its Kubernetes service

K8's kitchen puts self-serve Istio on menu as managed offering takes shape


KubeCon As a gathering of DevOps types at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 gets under way in Seattle, Washington, Google plans to tell anyone who will listen that its managed Kubernetes service, GKE, now can be ordered with Istio on the side, though you'll have to ladle it on yourself.

Here's how the Chocolate Factory described the open source software:

"Istio is a service mesh that lets you manage and visualize your applications as services, rather than individual infrastructure components," said Chen Goldberg, director of engineering at Google Cloud and Jennifer Lin, director of Google Cloud management, in a blog post provided in advance to The Register.

"It collects logs, traces, and telemetry, which you can use to set and enforce policies on your services."

And it enhances security by encrypting network traffic and rerouting it when necessary. Basically, the software helps those keeping watch over large numbers of containers and microservices understand and control what's going on.

Istio hit its 1.0 milestone in July and showed up as a component, Managed Istio, in Google's Cloud Services Platform at the same time. The other two services under the CSP umbrella are Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), which is a managed version of Kubernetes in the Google Cloud kingdom, and GKE On-Prem – a managed Kubernetes installation in your own data center.

Managed Istio at the time was an alpha release, which is what companies call software when they want to use it for marketing but it's too unreliable to use in production. GKE On-Prem at the time had yet to hit alpha status, which is a fancy way of saying "vaporware."

So this bit of news concerns the Istio on GKE, which is distinct from Managed Istio. As of Tuesday, Istio on GKE will graduate to beta status. Hoorah.

"Istio on GKE is a part of Google Cloud's Cloud Services Platform and is primarily built for customers who are looking to use Istio but would like to use the open-source offering," a Google spokesperson said via email. "Managed Istio will be built to integrate even more closely to GCP and to enable our customers to make the most of their microservices in the cloud."

Though you could stand up Istio on your own as a customer of Azure, AWS, or GCP previously, it required a bit of work and people might have looked at you funny. Now it's a one-click option. Google claimed it's the first major cloud biz to integrate Istio directly into a Kubernetes service.

While Istio on GKE will let businesses deploy the open source version of Istio, Dave Bartoletti, an analyst with enterprise consultancy Forrester, expected the software will prove more popular as a managed service.

"My clients who use GKE love it for the fully managed 'serverless' experience – no clusters to configure, managed orchestration, run by the folks who created Kubernetes," he said in an email to The Register. "The more advanced development teams, building larger collections of microservices apps, definitely need service discovery, routing, and additional 'mesh' features."

Offering Istio as a managed service will help those customers, Bartoletti said. "The service mesh layer is the least understood, in my view, by the general enterprise customer, but it's going to be more and more essential as the scale of containerized apps expands in 2019," he said. ®


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