What Is Istio and Why Does Kubernetes Need it?

What Is Istio and Why Does Kubernetes Need it?

Istio is currently the most popular service mesh implementation, relying on Kubernetes but also scalable to virtual machine loads. Kubernetes/Istio are a technical solution to deal with the issues created by moving to microservices. We will look at how service management is done in Kubernetes and how it has changed in Istio.

Istio is currently the most popular service mesh implementation, relying on Kubernetes but also scalable to virtual machine loads.

Istio, the most popular service mesh implementation, was developed on top of Kubernetes and has a different niche in the cloud native application ecosystem than Kubernetes. Rather than introduce you directly to what Istio has to offer, this article will explain how Istio came about and what it is in relation to Kubernetes.

Why Is There an Istio?

To explain what Istio is, it’s also important to understand the context in which Istio came into being — i.e., why is there an Istio?

Microservices are a technical solution to an organizational problem. And Kubernetes/Istio are a technical solution to deal with the issues created by moving to microservices. As a deliverable for microservices, containers solve the problem of environmental consistency and allow for more granularity in limiting application resources. They are widely used as a vehicle for microservices.

Google open-sourced Kubernetes in 2014, which grew exponentially over the next few years. It became a container scheduling tool to solve the deployment and scheduling problems of distributed applications — allowing you to treat many computers as though they were one computer. Because the resources of a single machine are limited and Internet applications may have traffic floods at different times (due to rapid expansion of user scale or different user attributes), the elasticity of computing resources needs to be high. A single machine obviously can’t meet the needs of a large-scale application; and conversely, it would be a huge waste for a very small-scale application to occupy the whole host.

In short, Kubernetes defines the final state of the service and enables the system to reach and stay in that state automatically. So how do you manage the traffic on the service after the application has been deployed? Below we will look at how service management is done in Kubernetes and how it has changed in Istio.

kubernetes istio microservices

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