LOTE #5: Charles Pretzer on Service Meshes, Knative, and Interoperability and the SMI

In the fifth episode of the Ambassador Livin’ on the Edge podcast, Charles Pretzer, field engineer at Buoyant (stewards of Linkerd), discussed service meshes, the Service Mesh Interface (SMI) spec, and how to implement a function as a service (FaaS) experience with Knative, Linkerd, and Ambassador

Be sure to check out the additional episodes of the " Livin' on the Edge " podcast.

Key takeaways from the podcast included:

  • Creating an effective continuous delivery pipeline is essential for enabling fast feedback for developers.
  • Adopting new pipeline technologies and tooling can add a lot of value, but it is all too easy to break the pipeline by adopting the latest shiny projects. Balancing risk versus reward is the key to success here.
  • Adopting a service mesh allows applications to use a better abstraction for service discovery, particularly within a dynamic environment. A service mesh can hide unnecessary details of underlying infrastructure e.g. service-to-service routing can be done via the use of normalized names instead of IP addresses.
  • The decision of if and when to adopt a service mesh is multi-faceted. Similar functionality can be provided via a combination of language-specific libraries or a collection of OS utilities. However, when the number of services deployed into production becomes larger than ~10, this can be a good time to begin experimentation with a service mesh.
  • A service mesh can provide increased availability (through circuit breakers and retries), security (via mTLS), and observability (enabling the easy emitting/collection of communication metrics)
  • The Service Mesh Interface (SMI) is a standard interface for service meshes on Kubernetes. It defines a basic feature set for the most common service mesh use cases, and provides a foundation and set of abstractions for the community to innovate upon.
  • Buoyant’s new Dive product builds on Linkerd and provides an automated delivery platform. The platform includes a service catalogue that can help engineers in understanding the (distributed) system on which they are working. This catalogue includes details of service dependencies, recent changes, associated SLOs, and service metadata, such as the owner.
  • Knative, Linkerd, and the Ambassador API gateway can be integrated to provide a Kubernetes-based function-as-a-service (FaaS) platform.
  • Kubernetes provides an ideal foundation on which to build a platform that supports hybrid workloads. This can enable the use of a range of application architectures, such as FaaS, microservices, and (well-designed) monoliths.
  • The open source community provides a fantastic platform to learn and to share knowledge and tooling.

This week's guest

Charles Pretzer is a field engineer at Buoyant, where he spends his time collaborating and engaging with the open source community of the CNCF service mesh, Linkerd. He also enables production level adoption by helping companies integrate Linkerd into their Kubernetes based applications. Charles has spoken at meetups and conferences hosted by ABN Amro, Macnica, and at the NGINX Conference. When he’s not presenting or in hacking away at his computer, he’s riding a motorcycle or making a delicious mess in the kitchen.

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