Tetrate Says Its Istio Distribution Is Easier to Use Than the Upstream Version

The startup, one of Istio's top contributors, has also launched an online community for Istio and Envoy enthusiasts to surface problems, brainstorm solutions.

Christine Hall

February 23, 2021

3 Min Read
Cloud Native Computing Foundation

Tetrate, a startup one of whose founders was involved in the creation of Istio at Google, has introduced its own distribution of the popular open source service mesh for Kubernetes-orchestrated container infrastructure.

The distrubution, GetIstio, will be the version of Istio driving Tetrate Service Bridge, the startup's flagship product that enables seamless connectivity, security, and observability for hybrid, multi-cloud deployments. GetIstio won't be confined to TSB, however. It's a stand-alone, fully open-source and free-to-use Istio distribution.

GetIstio is designed to make it easier for IT teams to install and manage the service mesh than the upstream version, whether it's being deployed on-prem or in public clouds, to be used with managed Kubernetes services such as Microsoft Azure's AKS, Amazon Web Services' EKS, or Google Cloud Platform's GKE.

"Istio is designed to work on Kubernetes, but sometimes there are nuances to a specific Kubernetes flavor or distribution," Prasad Radhakrishnan, a general manager at Tetrate, told DCK. "To remove the nuances and make it a consistent experience when it comes to installing and operating Istio on any flavor of Kubernetes that is out there is an ultimate goal for Istio."

The two-year-old Silicon Valley startup's approach to Istio is similar to other vendors' successful approach to Kubernetes. Several years back, as Kubernetes -- also created at Google -- was emerging as the standard for container orchestration, for many organizations it was prohitbitively complex. Kubernetes-based vendors at the time -- notably Heptio, Rancher, and Pivotal -- saw this as an opportunity and designed Kubernetes platforms that simplified it for users, in great part by abstracting some of the complexity.

Tetrate's doing the same with Istio starting with Tetrate Service Bridge.

A Leading Istio Developer

It's not surprising that Tetrate has emerged as one of the companies leading the way on Istio development. Like Heptio, which was started by two of the three original developers of Kubernetes, Tetrate was co-founded by Varun Talwar, who was one of the original engineers behind Istio while working for Google. According to Radhakrishnan, the company is the fifth-largest code contributor to Istio -- behind the likes of IBM, Google, and Salesforce -- and the second-largest contributor to Envoy, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation project that Istio, ironically, was meant to simplify.

Currently, in addition to bare-metal implementations GetIstio works seamlessly with with AKS, EDS, and GKE, with support for other cloud-based managed services in the works.

It's so easy to use, Talwar said, that when installing it to a cluster in Azure "it will fetch the right Istio for the Azure environment onto that cluster and tell you that it's up and running."

"We've just tried to simplify it to a level that anybody can [use it] and just remove barriers," he added. "We are running the backend pipelines for testing on all these different Kubernetes flavors, and before releasing saying that yes, this works, so you can have confidence."

A New Istio and Envoy Online Community

Tetrate also announced that it's building an online community -- with biweekly meetings -- around both Istio and Envoy.

"These community meetings we are going to hold will be for both Envoy Proxy and Istio enthusiasts, because you need Envoy Proxy for Istio," Radhakrishnan said. "We are trying to bring both these communities together so there can be useful discussions around specific use cases or challenges that folks are going to have in their implementation journey. We want them to bring those questions, so we can brainstorm what could be potential solution architectures or approaches to solve their problems."

Talwar added that the community could also be a good place for those using GetIstio without a support contract to find answers for technical issues they may be having.

The company has launched Tetrate Academy, with free online classes available now and a paid Istio certification program under development.

"[Training] is one big part of any new technology which we thought was missing," Talwar said. "We've come up with a full online course which has both course content, instructor videos, as well as quizzes."

By taking the classes that are available now, which cover everything from basics to using Istio in production, participants can become fully trained on Istio fundamentals, he said.

About the Author(s)

Christine Hall

Freelance author

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001 she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and began covering IT full time in 2002, focusing on Linux and open source software. Since 2010 she's published and edited the website FOSS Force. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux.

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