Revolutionizing Networking for Amazon EKS

In a significant leap forward for enterprise networking, has introduced the much-anticipated Istio OSS 1.21 with an innovative ‘ambient mode’ feature designed specifically for Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) users. This groundbreaking release not only accelerates the adoption of enterprise service mesh but also promises substantial cost savings of up to 80% for existing Istio users.

This development represents a significant milestone in the evolution of enterprise networking. Istio’s ambient mode enables sidecarless deployments, introducing greater simplicity, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness for users of Amazon EKS, AWS Lambda, and Amazon EKS Anywhere.

Ambient mode in Istio, also available in’s enterprise-grade offering Gloo Mesh, signifies a paradigm shift in Istio’s dataplane architecture, liberating it from the constraints of traditional, resource-intensive sidecars. This innovation, driven by collaborative efforts between and the Istio community, underscores the industry’s commitment to advancing networking technologies.


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The ability to deploy without sidecars presents a significant advantage, offering enhanced security, comprehensive monitoring, and advanced observability. Additionally, users can significantly reduce the complexities and costs associated with deploying and maintaining upstream open source service mesh.

This approach is particularly beneficial for organizations seeking to accelerate their workload migration to microservices, streamlining the adoption of Amazon EKS at scale. By optimizing resource utilization and deployment processes, organizations can leverage Amazon EKS more effectively to expedite cloud digital transformation initiatives.

In an interview with us, Barry Cooks, VP of Kubernetes at Amazon Web Services, was excited about the prospect of ambient mode for Istio, “’s new ambient mode in Istio brings a new level of flexibility and security to Amazon EKS users, empowering organizations to more easily build with scalable and efficient microservices with Kubernetes and AWS Lambda. This new mode shows how AWS’ fundamental support of open standards like Kubernetes enables customer choice and rapid innovation.” 

Our customer’s agree. We spoke to Rajay Rai, CTO at Trust Bank about the new release who said, “Istio’s ambient mode has enhanced our approach to security, lowered compute cost and reduced complexity on Amazon EKS. These are key advantages for our fully containerized bank.”


What Are Ambient Mode’s Key Benefits?

When running Istio OSS 1.21 in ambient mode, Amazon EKS will experience the following benefits:

  • Tailored performance: Ensures exceptional performance across all configurations with tailored deployment choices for Layer 4 (L4) and Layer 7 (L7).
  • Cost and operational optimization: Enhances control over proxy technology deployment to manage resource costs and operational expenses.
  • Flexible sidecar deployment: Allows customers to choose the architecture that aligns best with their specific application needs.
  • Zero-trust security: Maintains a high level of security for both traditional sidecar approaches and sidecar-less architectures.
  • Unified control plane (istiod): Simplifies operations and scaling efforts with a well-defined Istio control plane, known as istiod, across all clusters and multi-cloud setups.

We reached out to Steven Dickens, Vice President and Practice Leader at The Futurum Group to validate the potential impact of this new release on Amazon EKS customers, “The introduction of Istio’s ‘ambient mode’ is designed to reduce costs and complexity for users adopting Istio service mesh with Kubernetes and AWS Lambda. It’s notable to see that has collaborated with AWS to make Istio with Ambient available as an Amazon EKS Add-On, enabling deployment with a single click. This capability will undoubtedly simplify the deployment process for Istio users.”


Getting Started with Istio in Ambient Mode on Amazon EKS’s unveiling of Istio’s ambient mode marks a huge stride forward in enterprise networking, promising unparalleled flexibility, security, and cost-effectiveness for Amazon EKS users. This innovation exemplifies the industry’s dedication to advancing networking technologies to meet the evolving needs of modern enterprises

To learn more about running Istio in ambient mode on Amazon EKS and the potential resource savings, download our whitepaper.