Istio Talks To Watch at KubeCon Europe 2024

With Paris Fashion Week over, and the Olympic Games not until July, KubeCon EU 2024 is surely the next-most anticipated event on the French calendar.

It’s hard to believe that Kubernetes is 10 years old this year, as is my involvement with what we would later term cloud native. For the past 7 years my attention has largely been with the Istio project, and I have been privileged to help schedule the ServiceMeshCon, IstioCon, and Istio Day events, as well as the service mesh track in KubeCon.

That all means I can smell out a good talk as easily as I can smell a fresh croissant. Here are my recommendations for talks you won’t want to miss.

Istio and DNS

Istio Day, Tuesday, March 19, 16:25

There’s a subtle truth behind the meme that says “it’s always DNS.” Using a service mesh, your request could end up at a completely different endpoint than the one that DNS returned. Given that, it’s important to understand how Istio and DNS relate.

Google’s Costin Manolache is one of the longest-serving contributors to the project, and what he doesn’t know about how Istio works isn’t worth knowing.

(It was hard to pick just one talk from Istio Day to highlight; if you’re serious about service mesh, you should really make sure to spend the whole day there. I am also excited to learn about hardware acceleration for ambient mode and step-by-step deployment of Istio at Wehkamp.)

Platform Building Blocks: How to Build ML Infrastructure with CNCF Projects

Keynote, Wednesday, March 20, 10:25

It may surprise those who have learned about AI in the last 18 months that the field dates back to at least the 1950s. It is thus a delicious irony that the interaction model that brought AI to the consumer masses in 2022 was text-based chat.

No matter how much effort it takes to train a ML model, the process of serving it looks like serving any other API. It turns out that Istio is a pretty good thing to have in your toolbox for serving a multi-tenant API, so it’s no surprise to hear that it’s part of Bloomberg’s serving stack.

If you want a deeper dive into how they use Istio, they are also giving a talk at Istio Day.

Comparing Sidecar-Less Service Mesh from Cilium and Istio

Wednesday, March 20, 17:25

We love sidecar proxies; we really do. Istio is the archetypical sidecar-based service mesh, being the first project to introduce the pattern to Kubernetes and the public. But, technology moves on, and now not one, but two service mesh projects promise the benefits we come to expect from service mesh without requiring sidecars.

My colleague Christian Posta wrote the book on Istio, so he’s in a good position to compare and contrast Istio’s new sidecar-less ambient mode with Cilium Service Mesh. Learn how the two projects interoperate, and what exactly eBPF can and cannot do.

Product Market Misfit: Adventures in User Empathy

Thursday, March 21, 14:30

They say no plan survives first contact with the enemy. Unfortunately, sometimes the same is true for the first pitch for a new software architecture. The idea of Istio’s new ambient mode was universally welcomed, but the implementation would have been a challenge for some. Mitch Connors, long-time lead of the User Experience working group, will talk through what he learned while trying to explain ambient mode to Istio’s users, and how it evolved for the better through these conversations.

Please don’t ask Mitch too many questions in the break though, as he will need to run to present the Istio project update, with Zhonghu Xu from Huawei, at 15:25!

Cloud Native in its Next Decade

Keynote, Friday, March 22, 10:05

One of the reasons I wanted to join Solo was to work directly with Lin Sun after having collaborated with her for many years. I’m delighted that Lin’s leadership abilities have been recognized with her recent election to the CNCF’s Technical Oversight Committee. Lin is currently leading an effort to understand where cloud native will go in 10 years, and she will present her findings, alongside Davanum Srinivas (a.k.a. Dims) from AWS, in a keynote presentation.

Scaling Service Mesh: Self Service Beyond 300 Clusters

Friday, March 22, 16:45

A talented platform engineering team will abstract away their platform such that users can just deploy applications. This goal becomes a virtual necessity when you’re deploying to over 300 Kubernetes clusters, as are the team at Intuit. If you are able to stay for the last session on the last day — and you should! — you will learn how the Intuit traffic team have built abstractions that allow the application developers to manage traffic routing across their entire estate by programming Istio resources behind the scenes.

See You There! will be at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2024 in Paris, France as a Platinum sponsor. The team will also present at six sessions. will also be at Cilium + eBPF Day on March 19th as a Diamond sponsor, with a keynote by Idit Levine. Visit the team at booth E3 in the Solutions Showcase to learn more and see a demo.