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Microsoft and industry leaders launch new open project for service mesh interoperability

Service Mesh Interface

Microsoft has introduced a new open project called Service Mesh Interface (SMI) to provide developers interoperability across different service mesh technologies, like Istio, Linkerd, and Consul Connect.

Various industry leaders including Red Hat, VMware, Pivotal, Docker, Canonical, Aspen Mesh, and Rancher are supporting the SMI project. Whereas, Linkerd, HashiCorp, Solo, Kinvolk, and Weaveworks are the partners with Microsoft in launching the project.

The service mesh is a technology that has come into the practice with the rise in use of software containers, microservices and orchestration platforms like Kubernetes and Docker. The explosion of these platforms has made things difficult for developers to secure, manage, and monitor the network endpoints.

The service mesh technology makes the network smarter and addresses the problems that developers face. However, the number of vendors that provide service mesh technologies has also increased. Developers are now challenged to find the right vendor and write directly to the APIs. Further, they get locked in, and lose portability and flexibility.

That’s where the role of Service Mesh Interface (SMI) comes in. It will provide a common and portable set of APIs which can be used in a provider agnostic manner. It will allow users to define apps that use service mesh technology without tightly binding to any specific implementation.

“The interest and momentum around service meshes have reached a point where the industry needs to collaborate on a set of standards that can help assure their success,” said Sushil Singh, Chief Architect, VMware NSX Service Mesh at VMware.

“Service Meshes provide rich set of foundational capabilities for the future of applications. It’s the right time to work towards defining standard APIs that simplify the consumption and capabilities of service mesh technology to enable a healthy ecosystem. VMware is excited to participate in this very important effort.”

The new specification will provide a standard interface for meshes on Kubernetes, a basic feature set for the most common mesh use cases, and flexibility to support new mesh capabilities. Additionally, it will offer space for the ecosystem to innovate with mesh technology.

The capabilities of service mesh that will be covered by SMI will include traffic policy, traffic telemetry, and traffic management.

The traffic policy will enable developers to apply policies such as identity and transport encryption across services. The traffic elementary is for capturing key metrics like error rate and latency between services. Whereas, the traffic management will enable shifting of traffic between different services.

Also read: Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) now supports Windows Server containers

“Customers and community members alike have been seeking a way to better standardize the configuration and operation of service meshes. With the beginning of the Service Mesh Interface (SMI), we see this as a way to help maximize choice and flexibility for our Red Hat OpenShift customers. This flexibility provides users the ability to prioritize functionality over implementation details,” said Brian ‘Redbeard’ Harrington, principal product manager for service mesh, Red Hat.

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