Google, IBM, and Lyft launch open source project Istio

Istio gives developers a vendor-neutral way to connect, secure, manage, and monitor networks of different microservices on cloud platforms.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Google, IBM, and Lyft on Wednesday announced the first public release of Istio, an open source service that gives developers a vendor-neutral way to connect, secure, manage and monitor networks of different microservices on cloud platforms.

According to the companies, Istio was created to address the inherent challenges that come with integrating application-based microservices in distributed systems, namely compliance and security.

Oftentimes, developers have to solve distributed system problems by making changes to the application code. Instead, Istio is designed to function as a uniform layer of infrastructure that sits between the application service and the network.

"This uniform layer of infrastructure combined with service deployments is commonly referred to as a service mesh," the companies said in a joint blog post. "Just as microservices help to decouple feature teams, creating a service mesh helps to decouple operators from application feature development and release processes. Istio turns disparate microservices into an integrated service mesh by systemically injecting a proxy into the network paths among them."

While the Istio platform is a collaborative open source project between Google and IBM, the underpinning software was built using the Envoy proxy from Lyft, which the ride-share company developed to address its internal operability challenges.

For IBM, the Istio project supports the company's efforts to simplify the way developers build and manage more secure, cognitive apps with containers on IBM Cloud. The effort has grown more timely as microservices and containers take center stage in next-gen app development. IBM says Istio also gives CIOs a powerful tool to enforce security, policy, and compliance requirements across the enterprise.

The current Istio release is targeted at the Kubernetes environment, but the companies said they intend to add support for other environments, including virtual machines and Cloud Foundry, over the next few months. Itsio will be available on the IBM Cloud.

So far, Red Hat with Red Hat OpenShift and OpenShift Application Runtimes, Pivotal, Weaveworks with Weave Cloud and Weave Net 2.0, and Tigera with the Project Calico Network Policy Engine have committed to support the project.

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