Monolithic applications are retiring, and cloud-native microservices applications are taking over enterprises and the public sector all over the world. Tech giants like Amazon, Coca-Cola, Zalando, and eBay, as well as startups, rebuild their IT infrastructure into microservices architecture, and so, you may.
But, have you been informed with the right information on how to set up a microservices architecture the right way? Did you know you have to set up a service mesh alongside your microservices architecture for traffic management, observability, and security?
Find out why you need to have Istio on top of your microservices architecture.
What is Istio?
Istio is an open-source service mesh introduced in the year 2017. It was developed by Google, IBM, and Lyft using the Envoy proxy by Lyft. Today, the Istio project has sprawled with a support community comprising Red Hat, Pivotal, WeaveWorks, Tigera, and Datawire.
Like any other service mesh, Istio can manage network traffic between services in a scalable and as well as in sustainable fashion. But, the Istio add-on to traffic management is that it makes the API calls more reliable, and the network more robust in face of adverse conditions.
Anyway, traffic management is not the only reason why you should go for Istio. Observability into the flow of traffic is a factor that can help understand dependencies between services and quickly identify issues. Istio has built-in visibility to monitor, track, and log calls between services.
Istio security features include authentication, authorization, and encryption of service traffic flowing over the network. Above all, Istio is configurable and flexible with the potential to apply your own organizational policy between services for access and interaction.
Overview of ISTIO Kubernetes Service Mesh
Istio components are usually identified in two levels: the control plane and the data plane.
The data plane uses Envoy proxies: an L7 proxy with dynamic API configurations for enhanced observability in microservices architectures. Istio injects Envoy proxies in a sidecar fashion alongside each and every container on your microservices architecture.
These proxies maintain load balancing pools that update regularly via service discovery information. The pilot in the control plane specifies routing rules and provides them to the Envoy proxies. The proxies perform routing of received requests to appropriate services using load balancing information along with routing rules.
Additionally, proxies check service health and remove or add services to their load balancing pools. They employ timeouts and retries as part of failure management. Also, Envoy sends logging, monitoring, and tracing data to Mixer in the control plane.
The Control plane is the central hub of management in the Istio service mesh. It comprises Pilot, Citadel, and Mixer components. These components interact with the data plane to provide input for inter-service communication and to output data for logging, monitoring and tracing activity associated with the interactions.
Pilot distributes all information about services, service endpoints, and routing rules including retry and timeout rules for HTTPS requests, to the proxies. It enables service discovery by the proxies, which provides input for proxy load balancing pools.
Citadel manages certificates and keys as the key component of Istio security architecture. Citadel provides x.509 certificates and the Certificate Authority functionality. Certificates are signed and rotated enabling mutual Transport Layer Security (mutual TLS) connections between services.
The Mixer component checks requests against policies (Quota and ACL checks) for approval or denial before the proxies carry out the requests. Then Mixer collects data from proxies for logging, tracing, and monitoring and interfaces with backend applications such as Prometheus for monitoring and many more to provide their needed functionality. Moreover, the mixer maintains local cache resulting in improved performance and resilience of the control plane.
Find out how you can set up Istio. What should you know before beginning?
It does not matter on which platform you have deployed the microservices to set up Istio. Istio is an all-round solution fitting with any microservices architecture of any scale on cloud, on-premises, or in an orchestration platform like Mesos or Kubernetes.
Find out the value of Istio to security
Do you still use conventional security practices to protect your microservices architecture? However, these conventional network security approaches are not strong for shielding distributed applications in dynamic production environments.
For example, certificate management is a secure authentication practice but is cumbersome and hectic for operators and developers to take care of. But, if you have layered your microservices architecture with Istio, the built-in mutual TLS standard in Istio will auto authenticate and encrypt all communication between services. So, Istio is a bargain service for added security.
Furthermore, other than the mutual TLS and X.509 standards built into Istio, Google is currently contributing to a community-driven service security framework called SPIFFE with the expectation of implementing it on Istio.
All in all, when you use Istio in conjunction with Kubernetes network policies, you can achieve a high level of confidence and a high level of defense in both network and application layers.
Also, because of the strong service authentication in Istio (through mutual TLS), data protection, and, more importantly, sensitive data protection will be ensured. Therefore only strongly authenticated and authorized clients will be accessible to sensitive data.
However, neither of us can second the operational feasibility of an application over its profit. When it comes to Istio, Istio authentication is operationally effective since authentication can be easily configured during deployment with minimal or no changes to the application at all. Therefore, Istio is definitely a value addition in terms of security to your microservices applications.
Final thoughts on Istio
Not only security, but flexibility is also one of the key reasons why you should select ISTIO kubernetes service mesh. But, if not configured properly, flexibility can easily tend to complexity. Security can easily convert into vulnerability. So, if you would like to consult an expert about your own needs on Istio or if you need professional service to install and set up Istio on your microservices platform, please do not delay – contact Cloud Computing Technologies today. We are ready to provide solutions to any Istio related query you have.