Happy First Birthday Istio! 🎉

Yesterday Istio celebrated its first birthday. As we discussed in our microservices trends report, service meshes have seen an explosion of interest over the past year. While Istio continues to capture much of the mindshare, there has been a proliferation of solutions that interoperate with Istio or provide an alternative option.

On May 24, 2017, Google announced the launch of Istio. Since the initial blog post the open source project’s Github stars have increased to over 8,200, a +25% month over month CAGR.

Istio’s community has also grown rapidly to include 188 contributors. Google represents eight out of the top ten contributors, and there are also commits from VMware, IBM, among others. The solution evolved over the year and is currently on v0.7.

The community’s enthusiasm for Istio is palpable. At KubeCon Europe there were 14 Istio-specific talks and 18 additional discussions regarding service meshes more broadly. Service mesh-related talks represent about 10% of all the talks.

We believe there are about 15–20 businesses currently running Istio in production. The main use cases include intelligent routing, security, and observability. Our conversations with operators suggest intelligent routing is the most popular initial use case today. We hear the biggest opportunities for improvement are around stabilizing mutual TLS, decreasing the performance overhead of the controller and sidecars on compute and memory, and increasing scalability.

Service meshes’ popularity extends beyond Istio. There has also been a spike of start-ups going after the space either by building additive services that complement Istio like Solo.io’s Gloo or alternative service mesh offerings like Buoyant’s Conduit. Over the past year we’ve also seen more traditional load balancers like F5 and Nginx position themselves as service mesh compatible.We believe there are around 25 offerings in the broader service mesh ecosystem (see exhibit above). We continue to be excited about the innovation in the space and are looking forward to Istio v1.0.