Anyone remembers Mixer? That component was removed in 1.4. How about consolidated control plane - istiod? Istio moved all functionality to a single component in 1.6.
Looking back at the features added in 1.4 and 1.6 - things like automatic mutual TLS - yeah, you had to configure a DestinationRule back then to enable mutual TLS! Also, the Authorization policy was moved to beta in the same release, and an experimental multi-cluster setup was added to Istio CLI! And then 1.6 brought the simplification with single control plane component - istiod and a better VM support with WorkloadEntries.
Fast forward to today, almost exactly four years later, Istio 1.18 was released just a month ago. Automatic mutual TLS is a given, multi-cluster support evolved, we’ve had a single control plane for years, and a new sidecar-less mode called ambient mesh was introduced. Along the way, numerous bugs were fixed, and other features were added - even back in 2020, Istio was called out as one of the top five fastest-growing open-source projects.
Graduated projects signal to the industry a high level of maturity, strong community, and broad adoption. Graduated projects are well-established, have demonstrated production readiness, are stable, and (are expected) to have a sustainable future.
In the past couple of weeks and months, Istio received all required votes, and today Istio is moving to the Graduated stage and joining projects like Envoy, Kubernetes, SPIFFE, and others.
With more than 30000 merged PRs, almost 9000 contributions, and constant innovation with implementations such as ambient mesh, there’s no sign of the Istio project stopping anytime soon, and graduation will only help.
In these past four years, I’ve been constantly involved in the Istio project, fixing a typo or two in the documentation and logging a couple of issues, but mostly talking about Istio and service mesh at conferences worldwide and creating different technical content that always tied back to Istio.
I roughly counted, and there were more than 20 occasions in 2019 I either spoke about Istio or delivered a workshop. I guess I can call myself an "international speaker", right? 🙂
If I was writing and talking about automatic mutual TLS back in 2019, today, while still staying in the same ecosystem, I am talking about Istio ambient mesh and diving deeper into things like eBPF and Cilium.
Istio going forward
As I look ahead, the future of Istio is undeniably promising. Just as the past four years have seen Istio evolve from an incubating project to a mature, stable, and CNCF graduate status, the coming years are expected to hold even more advancements.
With Istio's graduation, the project is stepping into a phase of industry recognition and broader adoption, further technological innovation, and potentially transformative impact on the industry. Another testament to Istio projects' maturity is the enterprise offerings that feature Istio that are making a splash in the industry.
My journey with Istio has been incredibly rewarding, and I can't help but feel excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead. It also adds to my excitement that I’ve been fortunate to work with people like Christian Posta, Lin Sun, Louis Ryan, and others who’ve been instrumental in the Istio project.
I look forward to seeing Istio continue to grow and evolve, and I am excited to be a part of it.
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Peter Jausovec is a platform advocate at Solo.io. He has more than 15 years of experience in the field of software development and tech, in various roles such as QA (test), software engineering and leading tech teams. He's been working in the cloud-native space, focusing on Kubernetes and service meshes, and delivering talks and workshops around the world. He authored and co-authored a couple of books, latest being Cloud Native: Using Containers, Functions, and Data to Build Next-Generation Applications.