Laptop Displaying the GigaOm Research Portal

Get your Free GigaOm account today.

Access complimentary GigaOm content by signing up for a FREE GigaOm account today — or upgrade to premium for full access to the GigaOm research catalog. Join now and uncover what you’ve been missing!

Key Criteria for Evaluating Service Mesh Solutionsv3.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision-Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Service Mesh Primer
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Decision Criteria Analysis
  5. Evaluation Metrics
  6. Specific Service Mesh Capabilities
  7. Key Criteria: Impact Analysis
  8. Analyst’s Take
  9. About Ivan McPhee

1. Summary

A service mesh provides a consistent way of seamlessly coordinating a distributed mesh of microservices. Decoupling the application logic from the network communication logic, a service mesh offloads authentication, authorization, encryption, load balancing, rate limiting, service discovery, and logging and tracing from each application. It abstracts those functions as a programmable infrastructure layer running adjacent to each microservice either via a sidecar proxy or integrated directly into the service or platform. As a result, deploying a service mesh becomes more valuable as applications scale, providing the “plumbing” for cloud-native applications.

Delivering out-of-the-box observability, resilience, routing, scalability, and security, a service mesh allows developers to focus on enhancing business value instead of recreating service connections. It also eliminates the need for language-specific software development kits (SDKs) and tools to manage intra-service communications, reducing costs and accelerating time to value. Moreover, while some vendors develop proprietary—and innovative—service meshes, most focus on enhancing open source service mesh projects with enterprise-grade capabilities.

Despite being a relatively new technology, more and more organizations are adopting open source or vendor-provided service meshes to enable lean, high-performance service-to-service communications. At the same time, some vendors are evolving their service mesh platforms to further simplify and streamline cloud-native application development, including by the addition of cyber- and data-mesh capabilities.

This is the third year that GigaOm has reported on the service mesh space in the context of our Key Criteria and Radar reports. This report builds on our previous analyses and considers how the market has evolved over the last year.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report highlights the capabilities (table stakes, key criteria, and emerging technologies) and non-functional requirements (evaluation metrics) for selecting a service mesh. The companion GigaOm Radar report identifies vendors and open source projects that excel in those capabilities and metrics. Together, these reports provide an overview of the category and its underlying technology, identify leading service mesh solutions, and help decision-makers evaluate solutions before deciding where to invest.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.