News The New Nexus of Istio Expertise and Innovation

In recent years, has emerged as a nexus of Istio expertise within the cloud native community. Now, we’re excited to announce the addition of John Howard to our team. John has been the top individual contributor to Istio over the past four years, serving as networking working group leader and a member of the project’s Technical Oversight Committee (TOC). John is also a leader of the GAMMA initiative for adding service mesh support to the Kubernetes Gateway API, driving the specification to a stable release last week. John’s transition from Google to Solo as a senior architect underlines Solo’s position as the most innovative and agile vendor working in the Istio project today, as well as our commitment to collaborating in open source so a rising tide can float all ships.

A Leader in Upstream Contributions

John’s impact on the Istio community is undeniable. With his work accounting for 60% of all Google’s commits in the past two years, his contributions surpass those of nearly all other individual and corporate project participants.

In fact, John is the number one contributor to all CNCF projects. His move from Google to Solo underscores John’s dedication to the CNCF community and aligns with Solo’s participation in open source projects that make up the CAKES application networking stack.

In John’s own words, “Joining Solo represents an exciting new chapter in my career. We collaborated very successfully while I was at Google and I’ve always valued the team’s energy, dynamism, and expertise. Together, we’re poised to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the service mesh space, driving innovations that will make Istio adoption even easier and ensure Solo’s customers are even more successful. I’m incredibly excited to contribute to this team’s efforts to tackle the most pressing challenges in microservices architectures and to ensure Solo is best placed to bring the future of application networking to its customers.”

Cloud Native Leadership

John’s arrival at Solo adds to a growing roster of Istio pioneers to the company, including many past and present members of the project’s Steering Committee:

  • Louis Ryan, CTO: TOC member, Project founder (Google)
  • Lin Sun, Head of Open Source: TOC & Steering member, CNCF Technical Oversight Committee (IBM)
  • Craig Box, Head of DevRel: Steering member, CNCF Governing Board (Google)
  • Neeraj Poddar, VP Engineering: TOC member, founder of Aspen Mesh (F5 Networks)
  • Christian Posta, Field CTO: author of ‘Istio in Action’ and ‘Istio Ambient Explained’ (Red Hat)
  • Ram Vennam, Director Field Engineering (IBM)

This lineup showcases Solo’s leadership within the Istio community but also its dedication to advancing service mesh technology.

The Importance of Open Source Diversity

The strength of open source development lies in its collective effort and shared innovation. While Solo plays an important (and growing) role in the Istio community, we are but one element of a broader, diverse tapestry.

In 2023, no single vendor made more than 25% of the commits to Istio, and there were 10 companies who each made over 1,000 contributions.

Google 12615 8608
DaoCloud 7936
IBM 7598
Huawei 6605
Microsoft 2465
Tetrate 2064
Ericsson 1597 1495
Intel 1413
Red Hat 1008


This ecosystem of individuals, companies, and institutions dedicated to Istio’s continual growth is in stark contrast to other projects which are built by a single vendor, which are at risk of that vendor being acquired or changing their business model.

Having a strong bench of contributors not only enriches the project but ensures Istio remains adaptable, resilient, and attuned to the varied needs of its many users.

Envisioning the Future of Service Mesh

The announcement at KubeCon 2024 in Paris about the beta release of ambient mode in Istio 1.22 represents a major advancement towards a more efficient data plane architecture. This innovation is set to dramatically reduce resource consumption, and has recently been made available to Amazon EKS users. Solo’s leading contributions to Istio’s ambient mode highlight the essential role John and the Solo team play in driving Istio’s broader adoption through increased operational efficiency.

If you’re interested to learn how Solo can ease the adoption of service mesh technologies and help you scale your growing environment securely, learn more about Gloo Mesh.