Google launches Istio on GKE

Google today announced an update to GKE, the Google Kubernetes Engine, that brings integrated support for the Istio service mesh to service. Istio support is currently in beta.

While Istio isn’t yet the household name that Kubernetes has become in recent years, for many enterprises it’s an important building block for building their cloud-native platforms.

At its core, Istio is an open-source service mesh that helps you connect, monitor and secure microservices on a variety of platforms — one of those being Kubernetes. Istio, and its own sub-components like the Envoy proxy, offer a way to integrate microservices, secure them and aggregate log data while providing an additional abstraction layer over orchestration services like Kubernetes.

“We truly believe that Istio will play a key role in helping you make the most of your microservices,” write Chen Goldberg,¬†Google Cloud director of Engineering, and Jennifer Lin, Google Cloud director of Product Management, in today’s announcement. “One way Istio does this is to provide improved visibility and security, making working with containerized workloads easier. With Istio on GKE, we are the first major cloud provider to offer direct integration to a Kubernetes service and simplified lifecycle management for your containers.”

Goldberg and Lin also stress that Istio allows developers and operators to manage applications as services and not as lots of different infrastructure components. In addition, they note that Istio allows you to encrypt all your network traffic. Unsurprisingly, Istio on GKE also comes with an integration into Stackdriver, Google Cloud’s monitoring and logging service.

Istio first launched in the middle of 2017. The project is the result of a collaboration between Google, IBM and Lyft. It hit its version 1.0 release this summer, at the end of July, and companies like Datadog, SolarWinds and others have since built plugins to integrate it into their service. The Cloud Foundry project, too, is making Istio a core part of its service by using it as the core of its new traffic routing stack.