Kubernetes Adoption Paving a Path For Service Mesh

A global survey of 704 IT leaders finds that the more workloads organizations have running on Kubernetes clusters, the more likely it is they have also employed a service mesh as the number of microservices-based applications deployed expands.

The survey, conducted by ClearPath Strategies on behalf of Solo.io, a provider of a platform for managing application programming interfaces (APIs) based on the open source Istio service mesh, finds nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) are using Kubernetes in production, to some degree. More than half of those respondents have at least half of their production workloads running on Kubernetes.

A total of 87% say their organization is either already using (49%) or evaluating a service mesh for use. Among organizations with more than half of their production workloads running on Kubernetes, 81% use a service mesh, compared to only 45% of those organizations with half or less of their production workloads on Kubernetes. The survey also finds that 93% of respondents are also using or evaluating an API gateway.

Overall, satisfaction rates with Kubernetes among survey respondents is high at 94%, the survey finds. A total of 92% said they also plan to migrate additional workloads to Kubernetes. Only 16% of organizations report using Kubernetes for more than two years, with nearly half (46%) reporting they have been using it for less than a year. The survey also notes that 44% of respondents are managing Kubernetes clusters themselves while 21% rely on a service provider. More than a third (35%) are using a mix of both approaches. A total of 70% are running 26 Kubernetes clusters or more.

The most widely used Kubernetes services are Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) with 59%, followed closely by Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) at 57% and Azure Kubernetes at 47% from Microsoft, the survey finds. A quarter of respondents (25%) are also using the Red Hat OpenShift platform.

Erik Frieberg, chief marketing officer for Solo.io, says the survey makes it apparent that the rate of Kubernetes cluster deployments is now accelerating as organizations construct and deploy more microservices-based applications using application programming interfaces (APIs).

The survey finds that 85% of respondents are modernizing their applications using a microservices-based architecture, with more than (54%) reporting that more than half their applications are now based on a microservices architecture. More than half of those respondents (56%) are now seeing faster release management cycles as a result.

However, more than 70% of organizations report having delayed or slowed down application deployment into production due to application networking or security concerns.

A service mesh is designed to make it simpler to manage thousands of APIs in a way that also abstracts the underlying complexity of the networking underlay to make it possible for developers to programmatically invoke network services. A full 89% of respondents that have employed a service mesh report there has been a positive impact on application reliability, with 44% describing that impact as being “transformative.”

There is, however, clearly still much work to be done. The survey also finds that only 5% of companies use microservices and Kubernetes in production, have deployed those applications broadly across their organizations and are very satisfied with Kubernetes. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that Kubernetes has now finally crossed the proverbial chasm of mainstream adoption.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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