Google, Lyft and IBM Have Been Collaborating on this Platform to Make Microservices More Mainstream

Microservices has become the new fashion for building large scale distributed systems. as an architecture style, microservices advocates partitioning large applications into small, atomic, functional building blocks that communicate via APIs or RPC-protocols (yes those are back ;) ). Not surprisingly, microservices has been adopted as the architecture paradigm powering internet powerhouses such as LinkedIn, Netflix, Uber, Facebook and many others.

Despite its hype, the promise of microservices hasn’t materialized in a new generation of technology platforms. To this day, there are only a handful of microservices platforms such as Spring Cloud, Lagom or Azure Service Fabric that provides a somewhat-complete experience for building, deploying and managing microservices. More importantly, none of those platforms has been able to achieve dominant market share. Efforts such as Netflix OSS has produced a lot of interesting contributions to the microservices space but they remain mostly a set of isolated tools and frameworks rather than a cohesive platform.

Istio is a new platform tha provides a network of microservices, or service mesh, with infrastructure capabilities to enable relevant aspects of microservices architectures such as traffic management, security, monitoring, discovery, load balancing, fault injection and several others. Istio provides tools and frameworks that enable the creation of policies that regulate different runtime aspects of a service mesh. The platform operates at the network level and it leverages Lyft’s open source Envoy proxy. This characteristic allows Istio to operate without requiring changes on specific microservices.

Istio leverages Kubernetes as its underlying runtime infrastructure but it plans to rapidly add support to other runtimes such as Mesos or Cloud Foundry. The dependency on Kubernetes has drawn the involvement of Google in the project. Google is working to expand Istio’s capabilities to some of its technologies such as Cloud Endpoints and the Apigee platform. IBM’s involvement indicates that Istio might soon be included in Bluemix cloud services.

Opportunities for Microservices Platforms

The release of Istio highlights the need and opportunity for new microservices platforms to enter the market. Despite the availability of platforms such as Spring Cloud, Lagom or Azure Service Fabric, there is a plenty of opportunity for new microservices development and devops stacks to capture meaningful market share in the nascent microservices space. Some of the following areas could be attractive to new microservices platforms:

— Microservices Implementation: Frameworks and tools to model microservices patterns such as actors or stateful services are super relevant of the mainstream adoption of microservices. Frameworks such as gRPC , Thrift or Finagle are relevant examples of this capability.

— Monitoring and Network Visualizations: Tools that enable the visualization and monitoring of microservices topologies are one of the most exciting categories in this market. Tools such as Netflix OSS’ Atlas are a good example of this capability.

— Lifecycle Management: Microservices architectures are considerably more complex than other distributed systems. Tools and frameworks that enable the testing and lifecycle management of microservices is one of the categories that is likely to receive a lot of attention in the near future.

CEO of IntoTheBlock, Chief Scientist at Invector Labs, I write The Sequence Newsletter, Guest lecturer at Columbia University, Angel Investor, Author, Speaker.

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