New: managed Linkerd service mesh

Oshrat Nir

Aug 20, 2021

Why observability?

Observability is more than just monitoring. Observability is a property of a system. It’s your organization’s ability to answer questions about behavior that allow your business to effectively analyze the system and respond to its actions.

There is a lot of discussion about observability. The thing everybody agrees on is that it is as vital and more complex in the world of microservices, where things are fast-paced and highly distributed.

To this end, Giant Swarm has built a managed observability stack for its customers, based on open-source tools. The new addition to the managed observability stack offered is Linkerd.

 

Welcome Linkerd 2

Service meshes provide many benefits that abstract away the complexities that distributed services bring about. Some of these benefits such as encryption, “intelligent” routing, and runtime observability help with operating such applications.

A service mesh is a dedicated infrastructure layer through which all service-to-service communication passes. As a result, it is uniquely positioned within the technology stack to provide uniform telemetry metrics at the service call level. Once captured, metrics and traces are collected by the service mesh’s control plane and passed along to the monitoring tool of choice.

Linkerd 2 works by installing a set of ultralight, transparent proxies next to each service instance. These proxies automatically handle all traffic to and from the service. Because they’re transparent, these proxies act as highly instrumented out-of-process network stacks, sending telemetry to, and receiving control signals from, the control plane. This design allows Linkerd to measure and manipulate traffic to and from your service without introducing excessive latency.

Currently, Linkerd includes telemetry, retries, timeouts, auto-inject, mTLS by default with zero configuration. The next release will have traffic shifting for implementing blue/green deployments, canary releases, support for routing policies, and mesh expansion. Features such as circuit breaking and distributed tracing are also in the pipeline.

The benefit of having managed Linkerd is that we will keep up with the new versions for you. We evaluate and test both the application and its synergies with the rest of the managed observability stack.

 

Automatic mTLS

As mentioned above, Linkerd 2 provides many exciting features and has plans for even more, the feature our customers are most excited about to date is Automatic mTLS.

By default, Linkerd automatically enables mutual Transport Layer Security (mTLS) for most TCP traffic between meshed pods, by establishing and authenticating secure, private TLS connections between Linkerd proxies. This means that Linkerd can add authenticated, encrypted communication to your application with very little work on your part. And because the Linkerd control plane also runs on the data plane, this means that communication between Linkerd’s control plane components is also automatically secured via mTLS.

 

Mesh with observability

Though not one of the (sometimes controversial) three pillars of observability, service mesh is a tool that will help you make the data that you have saved actionable. As a lightweight open-source tool Linkerd can automatically provide metrics and even traces for the calls that pass through the mesh. It will help you easily get where you want to go.

Managed Linkerd will get you started with a service mesh that much easier. The fact that with Giant Swarm you can get in the context of a complete observability stack, will help you reap the rewards of microservices observability faster.

If you are not a Giant Swarm customer and would like to learn more, please get in touch! If service mesh is a topic you would like to explore more, sign up for our At Your Service, Mesh webinar. 

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About the author

oshrat 

Oshrat Nir is the Product Marketing lead at Giant Swarm. A master juggler, she has also written about Trust as a Differentiator and about Taking Our Roadmap Public. You can find her co-presenting a talk on inclusive language at DevOps World in September. When she's not improving Giant Swarm's Docs she can be found on her yoga mat. Find her on Twitter and say hi! 👋

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