Service Mesh Comparison: Istio vs Linkerd - DZone Microservices

Service Mesh Comparison: Istio vs Linkerd - DZone Microservices

In this blog post, we will learn about Istio and Linkerd architecture, moving parts, and compare their offerings.

From the latest CNCF annual survey, it is pretty clear that a lot of people are showing high interest in service mesh in their project and many are already using in Production. Nearly 69% are evaluating Istio, and 64% are evaluating Linkerd. You might not know that Linkerd was the first service mesh in the market but Istio made the service meshes more popular. Both projects are cutting edge and very competitive, makes a tough choice to select one. In this blog post, we will learn about Istio and Linkerd architecture, their moving parts, and compare their offerings to help you make an informed decision.

Introduction To Service Mesh

Over the past few years, Microservices architecture has become a more popular style in designing software applications. In this architecture, we breakdown the application into independently deployable services. The services are usually lightweight, polyglot in nature, and often managed by various functional teams. This architecture style works well until a certain point when the number of these services becomes higher, difficult to manage and they are not simple anymore. This leads to challenges in managing various aspects like security, network traffic control, and observability. A *service mesh *helps address these challenges.

The term *service mesh *is used to describe the network of microservices that make up such applications and the interactions between them. As the number of services grows in size and complexity, it becomes harder to scale and manage. A service typically offers service discovery, load balancing, failure recovery, metrics, and monitoring. A service mesh also often has more complex operational requirements, like A/B testing, canary rollouts, rate limiting, access control, and end-to-end authentication. A service mesh provides an easy way to create a network of services with load balancing, service-to-service authentication, monitoring, and more, with few or no code changes in service code.

Let's go through the architecture of Istio and Linkerd. Note that both projects are evolving fast and this article is based on Istio version 1.6 and Linkerd version 2.7.

Istio

Istio is an open-source platform that provides a complete solution as service mesh providing a uniform way to secure, connect, and monitor microservices. It is backed by industry leaders like IBM, Google, and Lyft. Istio is one of the most popular and complete solutions with advanced offerings suitable for all sizes of enterprises. It is a first-class citizen of Kubernetes and designed as a modular platform-independent system. For a quick demo of Istio, please refer to our previous post.

microservices kubernetes istio service mesh linkerd

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