Service mesh is fast becoming such a vital part of the infrastructure underlying microservices and traditional applications alike that every industry player must have an offering in the space. Because a variety of differentiated service meshes and service mesh services are emerging, it has become clear that interoperability between them will be critical for customers seeking to interconnect a wide variety of workloads.

With that in mind, we are excited to share that VMware has partnered with Google Cloud, HashiCorp, and Pivotal on an open source project for service mesh interoperability. This initiative will facilitate federation of service discovery between different service meshes of potentially different vendors. Through an API, service meshes can be interconnected to deliver the associated benefits of observability, control, and security across different organizational unit boundaries, and potentially across different products and vendors. The project will soon be opened to the community, and anyone interested in contributing to this effort can do so on GitHub.

Partnering With Industry Leaders on Service Mesh Interoperation

Enterprises increasingly rely on APIs to coordinate business functions that span departmental, organization or vendor boundaries. This implies reliability, operability, security and access constraints on these API calls to ensure business is not disrupted. Service mesh technology has enabled these properties for internal traffic. This proposal enables extending these properties to traffic flowing between different mesh deployments and implementations in a composable and dynamic way. This enables businesses to quickly establish relationships for APIs and services and have confidence in how that traffic is secured.

Service Mesh Interoperation

Interoperating service mesh products from different vendors is a challenging task. To create an ecosystem of service mesh communities, vendors, and services that are broadly useful and widely adopted, it is necessary for early innovators in the space to establish a standard for mesh interoperability. That is why we would like to thank Google Cloud, HashiCorp, and Pivotal for working together with VMware to kick off this initiative.

“Service mesh solutions are quickly becoming a necessity for organizations transitioning to microservice environments,” said Burzin Patel, VP of Worldwide Alliances at HashiCorp. “It’s important that these customers have a way to connect these solutions across other environments, virtual machines, and containers, and that’s where Consul Service Mesh can help. We’re pleased to have partnered with VMware on this specification. Our hope is that it will make it easier for all organizations to deploy a service mesh for connecting their applications across any platform.” 

“The service mesh has become essential to enterprises who need strong security and deep insight into how their distributed applications function, especially as they transition to newer architectures and hybrid-cloud environments,” said Jennifer Lin, Director of Product Management at Google. “Many of our customers are running Istio in production to achieve those needs today. The work we are doing with industry partners on interoperability helps ensure our Anthos customers can have their services communicate securely regardless of whether they are running on premises or in the cloud, on virtual machines or in Kubernetes.”

“Application developers and platform operations teams are recognizing the benefits of service mesh technologies for delivering speed, stability, scalability, security and savings,” said Ian Andrews, Senior Vice President, Products at Pivotal. “Large organizations leverage technology from multiple vendors, so interoperability is essential. Pivotal is excited to be collaborating on standards for mesh interoperation that will enable transformational business outcomes for our customers.”

Abstraction is in VMware’s DNA

Abstraction is where we began as a company and has continued to drive our success for over twenty years. We understand how to build solutions that are not tied to any specific cloud or platform, even to the point where we abstract our own products. We also understand that, as it goes with abstraction layers, customers start with one use case and can end up with many more. This collaboration will enable customers to use whatever service meshes they need as new use cases present themselves, resulting in an ecosystem that works for everyone.

What This Means for Service Mesh Users

There are multiple business objectives that can be achieved through mesh interoperation use cases:

  • Customers who are progressively migrating from legacy libraries linked to programming languages or frameworks to a fully fledged service mesh can do so more quickly and with less disruption to their operations.
  • Customers have the freedom to choose different service mesh products in different, geographically dispersed data centers or branches, under different organizational unit boundaries within the same company.
  • Customers have the freedom to migrate and run workloads between the data center and public cloud, or across clouds, when there are different service meshes running in those environments.
  • For customers already running a service mesh but that don’t yet have conventions for network addressing, workload namespacing, identity, and security policy; mesh interoperability accelerates the migration path to something more uniform.
  • Service publishers can have visibility on which customers are consuming their services in order to bill, provide SLOs, and react to outages.

Through this open source project and the collaborative effort of the teams involved, Istio, Google Cloud’s Anthos, Hashicorp Consul, Pivotal Service Mesh, and VMware NSX Service Mesh can interoperate, enabling customers to discover and secure communications between services across these meshes.

Learn More at VMworld!

If you would like to learn more about VMware NSX Service Mesh and this interoperation initiative, these are the right sessions to attend during VMworld San Francisco 2019!