The Top 10 Reasons We Love Istio

Brianna Blacet
Brianna Blacet

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

Although Istio is one of the most feature-rich and popular open-source service-mesh platforms in the world, it also comes with a bit of an intimidation factor. Make no mistake, implementing a service mesh (any service mesh) can add complexity to your cloud-native environment. However, I’d like to make a case for this powerhouse—dispelling the misconceptions and explaining why Istio is a perfect fit for your cloud application environment.

Before I start singing Istio’s praises, let’s quash the misunderstandings:

  • Misconception #1: Istio is only for microservices. This could not be more incorrect. While Istio comes with a host of features that make it the perfect fit for a microservices-based architecture, it can also be used with traditional, monolithic applications and VMs. It connects workloads outside of a Kubernetes cluster to its service mesh, extending all of its benefits to your legacy applications. In fact, this is why many organizations choose Istio when preparing to decentralize monolithic applications and move to a microservices-based architecture. And if you are running Kubernetes, Istio’s native integration makes it a natural fit for your environment.

  • Misconception #2: Deploying Istio will mean hiring a team of experts. I definitely understand the trepidation here. If you’re a developer-turned-DevOps, you’re probably more comfortable building microservices and APIs than you are with infrastructure and operations. And Istio definitely comes with a learning curve—maybe one you’re not too excited about. If you’re managing a DevOps team that has little or no experience with Istio, it’s natural to jump to the conclusion that you’ll have to hire this skill into your organization. However, using a tool with service-mesh management capabilities, like Calisti, means that you won’t need a crew of Istio experts to make it work. What’s more, Istio also has a vibrant community that can significantly flatten the learning curve.

  • Misconception #3: You’ll be starting from ground zero. Nope! Istio has some pre-defined policies and traffic management rules (such as its authorization policy), which reduces the need for custom configuration. What’s more, Istio's automatic sidecar injection feature will help you automatically add the necessary proxies to your microservices.

  • Misconception #4: Istio isn’t enterprise-ready. While it’s true that open-source software doesn’t come with 24/7 tech support or SLAs, adopting a platform like Cisco’s Calisti will make this concern a non-starter.

With all that said, let’s jump into the top 10 reasons to use Istio in your environment.

  1. Improved reliability and availability. Istio’s advanced traffic-management features—such as intelligent routing, circuit breaking, and automatic retries—will boost both the reliability and availability of your microservices-based apps, reducing downtime and improving overall user experience.

  2. Enhanced security. Istio provides built-in security features, such as mutual TLS authentication, policy enforcement, and access control, helping protect your microservices and APIs.

  3. Better observability. Istio includes a comprehensive set of observability tools, including metrics, tracing, and logging, which provides visibility into the behavior of your microservices and helps you more effectively troubleshoot problems. If you’re using Cisco’s Calisti, you’ll benefit from an intuitive, unified dashboard to further enhance observability in your environment.

  4. Simplified management. Istio’s central control plane makes it easier to deploy, update, and manage microservices—without worrying about complex network configurations.

  5. Easy scale. Istio helps you horizontally scale your microservices and improve your applications’ performance by letting you quickly add or remove replicas of a service to handle changes in traffic levels.

  6. Reduced latency. Istio's advanced traffic management features intelligently route traffic to the optimal backend service, reducing the number of hops and network delays, and increasing responsiveness and performance.

  7. Improved resiliency. Istio has built-in fault tolerance and resilience to ensure that your microservices continue to function properly, even in the event of failures or errors.

  8. Enhanced development velocity. Istio's declarative configuration and automation features can help accelerate development and deployment cycles, allowing you to quickly roll out new features and updates without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

  9. Improved team collaboration. Istio provides a central control plane that can help improve collaboration among teams working on different microservices, allowing them to easily share information and coordinate their efforts.

  10. Better integration with Kubernetes. Istio is designed to work seamlessly with Kubernetes, providing a uniform way to manage and monitor microservices deployed on Kubernetes clusters. This can help simplify the overall management and operation of your Kubernetes-based applications.

So how can you take advantage of all of these benefits, without incurring the misconceptions I stated at the beginning? One word: Calisti.

Cisco’s Calisti provides a fully managed, integrated, enterprise-grade Istio experience. You won’t have to hire a team of experts. You won’t have to set up Istio from scratch. You’ll get all of the benefits of the most powerful, full-featured service mesh, backed by a world-class name you trust. Use it free (forever!) for up to 10 nodes and two clusters—no credit card required. Sign up for the free tier or contact us for a customized demo.

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