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Key Criteria for Evaluating Service Mesh Solutionsv2.0

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. 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, typically via a sidecar proxy. 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 the addition of cyber- and data-mesh capabilities.

The GigaOm Key Criteria and Radar reports provide an overview of the service mesh market and highlight vendors and products that excel. This Key Criteria report identifies capabilities (table stakes, key criteria, and emerging technology) and evaluation metrics for selecting a service mesh. The corresponding Radar report provides an overview of notable service mesh vendors and open-source projects that excel. Together, these reports offer essential insights for cloud-native application development, helping 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.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.