Elevating Cloud-Native Connectivity: Istio Graduates to New Heights

Graduations are happening everywhere this time of the year, and we can’t forget to celebrate CNCF graduates, too. We’re excited to share that Istio is graduating at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)! As the fastest ever project to move from incubation to graduation, Solo is thrilled to celebrate this milestone along with Istio’s contributors and community. 

Istio’s CNCF graduation marks a significant turning point in the project’s journey: recognition of Istio’s maturity, stability, and widespread adoption within the cloud-native community. With its innovative approach to managing service-to-service communication, Istio has proven its value in real-world deployments and garnered a diverse and engaged user base from its first features all the way to new innovations such as ambient mesh.

We take immense pride in the remarkable story of the Istio project. Solo has played a significant role in this journey, making valuable contributions through our members serving on both the Istio Steering and Technical Oversight committees. Furthermore, our CTO, Louis Ryan, has been instrumental in founding Istio, leaving a lasting impact. Istio’s graduation is a testament to the dedication of the community who actively contribute to its development, provide valuable feedback, and ensure its readiness for production environments. This moment solidifies Istio’s position as the leading service mesh that empowers organizations to enhance the reliability, security, and observability of their microservices architectures in the cloud-native ecosystem.

Istio’s Graduation – A Milestone in Cloud Native Computing

Istio’s graduation from incubation at the CNCF marks a significant achievement for the project and the cloud-native community as a whole. The demonstrated adoption, growth, and engagement establishes Istio as a mature project, and Istio continues to play a pivotal role in enabling organizations to manage and secure their microservices architectures efficiently. Its graduation from incubation further solidifies Istio’s position as a leading service mesh platform in the cloud-native ecosystem, joining other graduated projects including Kubernetes, Envoy, spiffe, SPIRE, Prometheus, Jaeger, and more.

Since its early days, Istio has evolved into a mature and feature-rich service mesh. As a collaborative effort between Google, IBM, and Lyft, Istio was created in 2017 to address the complexities of managing microservices architectures. From that start, Istio has fostered a vibrant and active community of contributors, developers, and users. This growing community has actively participated in the development, maintenance, and enhancement of the project, contributing code, addressing issues, and providing valuable feedback. 

When Istio was first introduced, it provided essential features such as traffic management, security, and observability. Over time, Istio has expanded its feature set, incorporating new capabilities that enhance its functionality and meet evolving user requirements. Features like fine-grained traffic routing, canary deployments, rate limiting, and multi-cluster mesh have been added, making Istio a comprehensive and powerful service mesh solution.

What Does it Take to Graduate?

Among the factors for a project to graduate within CNCF, it must be considered stable and used successfully in production. Istio has repeatedly demonstrated significant traction and adoption within the cloud-native community, even before it officially joined the CNCF in 2022. Its user base had expanded to include a diverse range of organizations, from startups to large enterprises, using Istio to manage and secure their microservices architectures. Istio’s ability to handle the complexities of managing service-to-service communication at scale remains a testament to its robustness, and now with ambient mesh, its ease of use and value it can provide as well. 

Growth and engagement with the Istio community has also played a crucial role in its graduation. Istio’s strong community demonstrated its sustainability and ability to thrive beyond its initial creation. The result is growing Istio maturity through a series of major releases, each addressing critical features, bug fixes, and performance optimizations. Collaboration with industry partners further demonstrated Istio’s ability to address real-world challenges and adapt to evolving requirements.

Istio has always received significant backing and contributions from prominent organizations including Google, IBM, Solo.io, RedHat, and many more, validating its importance in the cloud-native landscape. 

Innovations Won’t Stop Soon

Istio has established itself as a go-to service mesh for Kubernetes, deeply integrating with the platform and aligning with its evolving standards. Istio has expanded its reach of support beyond Kubernetes, integrating with other container orchestration platforms and cloud-native environments, making it more versatile and adaptable to various deployment scenarios.

Over time, Istio has expanded its feature set, incorporating new capabilities that enhance its functionality and meet evolving user requirements. Features like fine-grained traffic routing, canary deployments, rate limiting, and multi-cluster mesh have been added, making Istio a comprehensive and powerful service mesh solution. Continuous testing, bug fixes, performance optimizations, and innovative features like Istio ambient mode offering a sidecarless approach in addition to the more traditional sidecar architecture have led to a more complete and reliable Istio.

Istio Graduation Timeline

As Istio continues to innovate and empower organizations with its robust service mesh capabilities, its active community will undoubtedly play a vital role in shaping its future. The Istio community is built on supportive communication channels that facilitate engagement and knowledge sharing. Online forums, mailing lists, chat platforms, and social media channels provide spaces for users and contributors to seek help, share insights, and discuss ideas. The willingness of experienced community members to provide assistance fosters a welcoming and inclusive environment for newcomers.

As a top contributor to the Istio codebase and prominent participant on the Istio Technical Oversight Committee (3 of 6 seats), Solo has invested significantly in the development, direction and the success of the Istio project. In addition to contributing innovations like ambient mesh, Solo has brought commercial products (Gloo Gateway and Gloo Mesh) with additional enterprise hardening and support to the market to further introduce Istio to the world. Seeing Istio graduate in the CNCF ecosystem validates that Istio and the Istio community are truly driving the future of service mesh technology.

Congratulations, Istio!

From its initial release to its current state, Istio has evolved into a mature and powerful service mesh platform. Improved stability, expanded feature set, simplified installation and configuration, deeper integrations, ecosystem growth, and continued community engagement are clear indicators of Istio’s journey of growth and advancement. As Istio continues to push the boundaries of service mesh technology, it remains at the forefront of empowering organizations with enhanced control, security, and observability in their microservices architectures. Here at Solo.io, we are proud to be part of this tremendous community and technology, and very excited to see Istio graduate at the CNCF.