There has been a major shift in how applications are developed, tested and deployed in recent years. Such is the need for speed in today’s fast-paced product release cycle that in addition to development methodologies, it has also changed the architecture in which they are deployed.
Transition to this new development paradigm will be gradual so companies will need to coexist with their existing applications as may not be practical or feasible to rearchitect the legacy applications. That coexistence is naturally complex and there are companies that are looking for ways to make this transition easier. Solo.io is one such company.
I met them at Cloud Field Day 6 where Idit Levine (Founder and CEO) and Christian Posta (Global Field CTO) presented their products. It’s a new but fast-growing company that focusses on API Gateway/Service Mesh technologies and related products.
When introducing the company, its principles and products, Idit mentioned she founded the company so that they could focus on creating products to solve existing and upcoming problems faced by their customers.
That is also why most of their products are open-source and they are active contributors to the various related development communities.
At this point, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the passion with which Idit was presenting. The belief and pride in the company she founded and its products were clearly evident from her voice. She couldn’t wait to delve deeper into how the products work and after that amazing build-up, we couldn’t either!
As companies try to transform their monolithic applications or develop new microservices, they’re immediately faced with the challenges of managing, securing and observing those microservices.
Gloo is a cloud-native API Gateway and ingress controller that addresses those challenges by configuring the behaviour of Envoy proxy. It’s a flexible and extensible control plane for Envoy that provides secure application connectivity and policy-based traffic management.
Given applications can be using any mix of environments, authentication mechanisms and configurations, Gloo provides the abstraction via the control plane, relieving developers from the worry of knowing the ins-and-outs of configuration options.
It also means that they can develop their applications to standard interfaces and even if underlying technologies change, their application should require minimal or no changes.
Knowing what the product does and how it does it, it’s no surprise that the product is named “Gloo”!
Service Mesh Hub
While still not universally implemented, Service Mesh as a principle will become more common going forward as it makes a lot of sense to remove the burden of security, observability, service discovery and network communication away from the developer so that they can focus on developing the product. Abstracting those mechanisms away also has the benefit of making it platform-independent and standard, which is invaluable from an operational viewpoint.
Now, there are already many service mesh implementations in the market and depending on features required by their applications, companies could end up with more than one service mesh implementation. They all have subtle differences in how they’re configured and as time goes by, this challenge will only become more difficult to manage.
In addition, the service mesh implementation chosen today may not turn out to be the best choice, once the application goes deeper into the development cycle. At that late stage, it’s generally difficult to change the underlying service mesh platform.
Instead of introducing yet another service mesh product, Solo.io foresaw these challenges and developed Service Mesh Hub to address them. It creates an abstraction layer above the service mesh topology which allows any implementation to plug into it and it provides a standard interface to all of them.
Once done, it provides standard connectivity to any number of implementations, between clusters and datacentres, regardless of it being in a private or public cloud environment. The abstraction also allows the underlying service mesh platform to be replaced at any time, which provides flexibility and peace of mind to the developer.
Debugging is an important part of the development process and over the years, tools and methods have been created for the traditional development methodologies.
Creating tools for Microservices-based development methods is complex because of the sheer number of services and interfaces that can be communicating with each other. In addition, the fact that observability and communications are decoupled from the main application makes it difficult to create effective tools in this area and why there aren’t many in this space.
Squash is a debugger specifically created for such environments. It is optimised to be effective in an ever-changing and communications heavy environment by taking only what it needs to pinpoint a problem area and then gets all details when an issue is detected and more information is required.
Moreover, it can spin up an identical but duplicated environment with all relevant data outside of production to allow the developer to debug the application. I think that’s brilliant as production issues are extremely costly when they occur and Squash provides an ideal way to fix them quickly with no impact on production.
I like what Solo.io are doing a lot! There’s so much work to be done to simplify and abstract interfaces so that underlying technologies become providers that can be replaced transparently and are easy to consume.
At Solo.io, it’s all about abstraction. Design principles for its flagship products mean it can use pre-existing services and doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to provide the value it brings to the table. This also allows agility to respond to any enhancements that are introduced to any of the integrated services.
Soon after our session, Gloo Enterprise version 1.0 was released. It is an important milestone in any companies’ progress and I am excited to see where Solo.io goes next. If you want to explore more and test drive, do join the open-source community, where you can contribute and influence the direction of the projects.
Disclaimer: As is customary for Tech Field Day delegates (and just in case), I would like to say that while Gestalt IT paid for my travel, accommodation etc. to attend Cloud Field Day 6, I am not being paid or asked to write anything either good or bad about any of the companies that presented at the event.