Microservices and Service Mesh Have Proved Critical to Modern Digital Transformation Efforts
August 11, 2022

Erik Frieberg

To succeed, companies continually push to do more, faster, with less. Digital transformation and the shift to a cloud-first posture, or even fully cloud native software development, has revolutionized companies' ability to deliver more digital products and features faster by unlocking developer productivity. Leading companies practically equate developer productivity and developer happiness with increased revenue and customer satisfaction.

The broad adoption of containers and the emergence of Kubernetes as a de facto standard have pushed the boundaries of cloud native development's impact even further. Containers, though not a prerequisite for microservices, provide the right packaging for the mass adoption of microservices.

As with all new tech, however, when one problem is solved, another often emerges.

For Kubernetes, there exists a robust market of service providers to resolve that pain for most companies. And for those who choose to operate Kubernetes in-house, the solutions, skills, and smarts now exist — to say nothing about the maturity of the products — to make that concept orders of magnitude easier than just a few years ago.

Microservices, on the other hand, remain an acute and often underappreciated pain. While there has been an explosion of microservices and APIs, most companies are still sorting out how to deal with this new form of technical debt. As they seek to increase development velocity and make developers more productive, modern enterprises now struggle to deal with the negative externalities that result from the microservice and API sprawl.

To solve this, enterprises are turning to service mesh and API gateways as solutions. The problem is, they don't know exactly how to make the best use of them or what the best practices for these tools are.

Some companies have figured this out, however. By looking at these leading companies and how they are using service mesh and API gateways, other companies can reap the same benefits for their dev teams and KPIs.

Recent research underscores this idea:

There is an explosion of microservices

Microservices are being used more than in the past. Fully 85% of companies say they are modernizing their apps to a microservices architecture. This transition is both new and large scale; customers still haven't figured out how to get the best benefits from them, let alone how to manage it all.

Kubernetes has crossed the chasm

Nearly two-thirds of companies (64%) are using Kubernetes in production to some degree. More importantly, a majority of companies (53%) report at least half of their production workloads running on Kubernetes, and they have figured out how to make the most of it, as satisfaction with Kubernetes is nearly universal (94%).

API gateways are foundational for success

API gateways are a stable market. Fully 93% of companies are using or evaluating an API gateway. The benefits (primarily to ensure service reliability) are clearly understood and align to organizations' increasing use of microservices and app modernization strategies.

Companies are turning to service mesh as an answer

As microservices architectures become a requirement for competitive companies, service mesh has grown in popularity as an organizational tool. Nearly half of all companies (49%) report using a service mesh at some level with a further 38% evaluating a service mesh for use.

Service mesh is relatively new; best practices are not widely known

Because service mesh is an emerging market, there are fewer established best practices in the way there are for API gateways. The reasons for adopting service mesh are varied with less broadly recognizable trends.

By using the tools highlighted in this research, companies can maximize the positive impact to their dev teams and KPIs. This further solidifies the traction that service mesh and API gateways have rightfully been gaining and demonstrates where the market as a whole is going.

Methodology: In January 2022, Solo.io conducted a survey of 704 executives, managers, and practitioners to learn more about their use of microservices, service mesh, Kubernetes, and other related technologies.

Erik Frieberg is CMO at Solo.io
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