Are you ready for SaaS service mesh? Buoyant, the startup behind the Kubernetes-focused service mesh, Linkerd, is now offering Service Mesh as a Service.
It's pretty much become accepted in the cloud-native world that if you're going to be running containers, it's a good idea to deploy a service mesh to help deal with the added complexity that containers, microservices and other cloud-native technologies bring to the table.
The trouble is that service meshes are themselves complicated and require some expertise to set up and operate. This even includes Linkerd, a service mesh that's designed for ease of use. This has led San Francisco-based Buoyant to introduce Buoyant Cloud, a software as a service (SaaS) approach to service mesh that removes much of the complexity for operators.
"The service mesh market is fraught with complexity and overengineering, and Linkerd is pretty unique in that in that market," William Morgan, Buoyant's co-founder and CEO, told DCK. "What we want to do is double down on that. We've made Linkerd as simple as possible for you to operate, but operating software is still a challenge, no matter how simple the software. What we want to do is basically shoulder the operational burden for you as much as possible, and with Buoyant Cloud that’s basically the goal."
Both Google Cloud Platform and IBM Cloud offer Istio (arguably the most popular service mesh) as a managed service, but those offerings are limited to their respective clouds.
Buoyant Cloud, on the other hand, is available anywhere an organization has clusters, whether that be on-premises or in multiple clouds. All it requires is that the user install Linkerd to the cluster and then connect that instance to the service. Buoyant Cloud then acts as an extension to the existing Linkerd deployment, taking advantage of Linkerd's extension capability, which was added in March with the release of version 2.10.
"We can't host Linkerd for you entirely," Morgan said. "I would love to do that, but unfortunately the nature of the service mesh requires Linkerd to be on your cluster, because we have to be as close to your application code as possible."
He added that the developers at Buoyant hope to eventually be able to install Linkerd on users' clusters directly from the cloud service to remove more burden from DevOps teams and systems administrators.
What Buoyant Cloud Offers
According to Buoyant, after registering clusters with their eponymous cloud, it will do most of the heavy lifting needed to keep the service mesh running and maintained, leaving DevOps workers to concentrate on their business-focused tasks instead of spending time keeping the service mesh (and hence their Kubernetes infrastructure) operational.
The service constantly assesses and validates the health of the Linkerd deployment, pinpointing potential issues ahead of time, as well as helping users manage service mesh versions and lifecycles across pods, proxies and clusters by identifying data plane and version incompatibilities and "sanity checking" mesh installs and upgrades. Its dashboard provides a unified view of the entire mesh, no matter how many clusters are being used.
In addition, Buoyant Cloud includes a suite of tools aimed at site reliability engineering (SRE) that build on top of Linkerd, including service-level objectives, workload golden metric tracking and change tracking, allowing Kubernetes-based organizations to build a secure, reliable and observable platform.
Most importantly for many customers, Morgan said, is the tiered support that comes with paid subscriptions.
"We make it easy to access human support when you need it," he said. "If you're an enterprise customer and you need the 3 a.m. wake-up, you'll have a button you can press that will summon the human. If you are just a startup that needs some kind of milder reassurance, there are other mechanisms for you to get support from a human when you need it."
"In my mind, it's all part and parcel of the same thing: We want to give you the ability to operate Linkerd with confidence," Morgan added.
A Production-Ready Beta
Although Buoyant Cloud is officially being called a beta release, this doesn't mean that the service isn't ready to handle mission-critical workloads, according to Morgan.
"We have customers who are using this today who are relying on it for their critical infrastructure, so it's less about 'We don't think it's ready for prime time' and more about the size of the feature set," he said.
"What's available today is a significant step, but it's just the first step towards a fully managed entity," he added. "I didn't want to come out and say, 'Hey, we can manage Linkerd, problem solved!' The beta designation is more of a reflection that we still have to do some some pretty heavy lifting to get to the point where we can really upgrade Linkerd for you in a fully automated way, or even install it for you in a fully automated way."
Buoyant Cloud is available with four levels of service, including a free "Community" tier.