The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Service Mesh

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Service Mesh

At Kubecon EU last week, there was a lot of focus on service mesh, sidecars, microservices, and many more “meshy” things. To help navigate the resources, videos, sessions, and various other content from the event, we thought it would be good to provide a handy reference guide to explore what these concepts are and why they are so prominently featured in the market today.

At Kubecon EU last week, there was a lot of focus on service mesh, sidecars, microservices, and many more “meshy” things. To help navigate the resources, videos, sessions, and various other content from the event, we thought it would be good to provide a handy reference guide to explore what these concepts are and why they are so prominently featured in the market today. The goal of this guide is not to point the reader in one direction or the other, but help pick apart the tools and terminology used in a new and changing technology space. So don’t panic, grab your towel, and let’s dive into it!

But Why Service Mesh?

There are times when listening to talks about service mesh can feel a little like listening to Vogon poetry, but it really is an important advancement in modern application networking. At its core, service meshes are trying to solve a simple problem, how do I connect my applications efficiently and securely? Followers of traditional networking may feel that this is an unnecessary complication of a problem that has already been solved, but, as many have pointed out, cloud and containers have really changed how these traditional networking concepts are applied. To break it down a little further, let’s use a basic, real-world example of what is expediting the need for service mesh.

Imagine someone building a house. There are underlying components, like electricity, water, plumbing needed to make the home liveable and some more customizable features like furniture, paint color, and appliances. Let’s say you want to ask how things are going (for the sake of this example, it’s a pre-cell phone world). How do you reach the builder? You could simply drive over and ask if you know the address. If he doesn’t know, he needs some sort of information that he can use to reach the builder, like a phone number. Now think about how you get a landline connected to a new home. First, someone from the phone company needs to come and wire the house and connect it to their network, then they assign the home a phone number, then the phone number needs to get published to some sort of directory, then dialed, and finally, we can ask the builder, “how’s it going?”

Now imagine how annoying this would be if the builder told him, “I’m actually going to move this house every couple of days or weeks to a different location and need you to come rewire it for phone service every time it moves.” Wouldn’t it be easier if the builder just had something that followed him around and made him reachable regardless of where the house is? Something like a cell phone? This is the benefit of a service mesh. I don’t want to have to wait on a phone number (or IP address) to be assigned to get them connected with the rest of my services. I should be able to have my services consistently reach out with a single tool (like a sidecar proxy) and that device should get me connected to the other desired services.

service mesh contributed sponsored amazon web services

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