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Can containerization tools aid microservices communication?

Containerization tools have taken on a critical role in managing communication between microservices, and two Kubernetes-based tools in particular are getting the job done.

To ensure microservices applications are successful, it's critical to ensure that the networking layer connecting...

each service is able to adapt to the complexity of a microservices architecture. To that end, containers are revolutionizing how microservices communicate with one another over the network. Two containerization tools in particular -- Linkerd and Istio -- are taking on a major role in microservices communication.

How containerization tools help

In microservices applications, where hundreds of different services comprise a single application, the way these services communicate with one another is extremely important.  To that end, it is the service mesh that connects these microservices together in a scalable manner.

Docker offers a mature networking model. However, in modern cloud-native applications, container orchestration tools, such as Kubernetes, dynamically change the state of services. These tools also perpetually retire and create the underlying container groups that power microservices. However, it's critical to enable identification of and communication between microservices, irrespective of this flux. That's where containerization tools, like Istio and Linkerd, come into play.

Enter Linkerd and Istio

Linkerd is a service mesh for cloud-native applications that provides a unified and consistent layer for microservices communication. Working on top of Linkerd, Istio acts as a control pane to manage requests between services. Together, these tools manage load balancing, traffic authentication and monitoring for microservices applications.

As part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, these two tools are well-integrated with Kubernetes and enable more robust container-driven applications in production. In the fast-changing world of microservices, the last thing a development team wants is to be locked into a proprietary tool or standard. Since they are open source tools, Linkerd and Istio help teams avoid that problem. They are also very easy to extend and are compatible with any language or infrastructure stack.

After decomposing an application from a monolith to a microservices model, the next step is to optimize it for scale in order to prepare it for future innovations. Containerization tools that are built for cloud-native applications powered by Kubernetes, like Linkerd and Istio, enable this very modern approach to microservices architecture.

This was last published in January 2018

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