Happy 7th Birthday, Istio!

Celebrating Istio’s momentum and exciting future.

May 24, 2024 | By Lin Sun - Solo.io, for the Istio Steering Committee

Happy 7th birthday, Istio!

On this day in 2017, Google and IBM announced the launch of the Istio service mesh. Istio is an open technology that enables developers to seamlessly connect, manage, and secure networks of different services — regardless of platform, source, or vendor. We can hardly believe that Istio turns seven today! To celebrate the project’s 7th birthday, we wanted to highlight Istio’s momentum and its exciting future.

Rapid adoption among users

Istio, the most widely adopted service mesh project in the world, has been gathering significant momentum since its inception in 2017. Last year Istio joined Kubernetes, Prometheus, and other stalwarts of the cloud native ecosystem with its CNCF graduation. End users range from digital native startups to the world’s largest financial institutions and telcos, with case studies from companies including eBay, T-Mobile, Airbnb, Splunk, FICO, T-Mobile, Salesforce, and many others.

Istio’s control plane and sidecar are the #3 and #4 most downloaded images on Docker Hub, each with over 10 billion downloads.

Docker Hub downloads of Istio!

We have over 35,000 GitHub stars on Istio’s main repository, with continuing growth. Thank you everyone who starred the istio/istio repo.

GitHub stars of the istio/istio repo!

We asked a few of our users for their thoughts on the occasion of Istio’s 7th birthday:

Amazing diversity of contributors and vendors

Over the past year, our community has observed tremendous growth in terms of both the number of contributing companies and the number of contributors. Recall that Istio had 500 contributors when it turned three years old? We have had over 1,700 contributors in the past year!

With Microsoft’s Open Service Mesh team joining the Istio community, we added Azure to the list of clouds and enterprise Kubernetes vendors providing Istio-compatible solutions, including Google Cloud, Red Hat OpenShift, VMware Tanzu, Huawei Cloud, DaoCloud, Oracle Cloud, Tencent Cloud, Akamai Cloud and Alibaba Cloud. We are also delighted to see the Amazon Web Services team publish the EKS Blueprint for Istio due to high demand from users wanting to run Istio on AWS.

Specialist network software providers are also driving Istio forward, with Solo.io, Tetrate and F5 Networks all offering enterprise Istio solutions that will run in any environment.

Below are the top contributing companies for the past year, with Solo.io, Google, and DaoCloud taking the top three places. While most of these companies are Istio vendors, Salesforce and Ericsson are end users, running Istio in production!

Top Istio contributing companies for the past year!

Here are some thoughts from our community leaders:

Continuous technical innovation

We are firm believers that diversity drives innovation. What amazes us most is the continuous innovation from the Istio community, from making upgrades easier, to adopting Kubernetes Gateway API, to adding the new sidecar-less ambient data plane mode, to making Istio easy to use and as transparent as possible.

Istio’s ambient mode was introduced in September 2022, designed for simplified operations, broader application compatibility, and reduced infrastructure cost. Ambient mode introduces lightweight, shared Layer 4 (L4) node proxies and optional Layer 7 (L7) proxies, removing the need for traditional sidecar proxies from the data plane. The core innovation behind ambient mode is that it slices the L4 and L7 processing into two distinct layers. This layered approach allows you to adopt Istio incrementally, enabling a smooth transition from no mesh, to a secure overlay (L4), to optional full L7 processing — on a per-namespace basis, as needed, across your fleet.

As part of the Istio 1.22 release, ambient mode has reached beta and you can run Istio without sidecars in production with precautions.

Here are some thoughts and well-wishes from our contributors and users:

Learn more about Istio

If you are new to Istio, here are a few resources to help you learn more:

If you are already part of the Istio community, please wish the Istio project a happy 7th birthday, and share your thoughts about the project on social media. Thank you for your help and support!

Share this post