Lee Calcote at Tetrate's Service Mesh Day 2019: Service Meshes, but at What Cost?

Service mesh: Where do I get started? And what’s the overhead?

Speaking at service mesh workshops over the past year, these are the two questions that Lee Calcote, senior director of technology strategy at SolarWinds, heard over and over again.

How much latency are we talking about? What’s the CPU burn based on all this value I’m getting for free, with (almost) no code change?

Lee Calcote, Founder, Layer5

We should help people answer these questions, said Calcote, speaking at Tetrate’s Service Mesh Day 2019 conference in San Francisco. People need a playground to go and easily spin up a mesh and gain familiarity with its functionality– so Calcote built Meshery, a developing open source multi-service mesh performance benchmark and playground. He demoed the tool to show how it would empower the “Joe Schmo” operator or engineer to point to a sample app and persist the results to check performance over time.

It’s especially challenging to answer the question about overhead because the answer is that it depends. There are so many variables and container orchestrators use scales that don’t easily allow for apples-to-apples comparison, said Calcote. With Meshery, you can check on performance statistics and other metrics about your environment, like latency and throughput, and the resources that are being consumed in load tests.

“This hopefully helps people self answer some of those questions about performance and what the cost is… [using] their own app, on or off the mesh,” said Calcote.

It might eventually yield something like a service mesh benchmark spec, or show that some meshes perform better than others depending on the environment and the workloads. But overall, Calcote hopes it will bolster confidence and understanding about service mesh in general and the price organizations will pay for its convenience.

Tetrate, the company that builds service mesh solutions for enterprise networking and observability, looks forward to the emergence of benchmarks and supports the idea that performance is an important characteristic of mesh that needs to be measurable.

Follow #tetrateio for more on the bleeding edge of service mesh.

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