HashiCorp today made available an update to its Consul service mesh that makes it easier to integrate legacy and modern applications.
Service meshes have emerged as a framework for documenting and controlling how application services interact with one another. Most of the adoption of service meshes thus far has involved applications built using microservices. With potentially hundreds or even thousands of microservices to manage, a service mesh framework becomes essential.
HashiCorp Consul 1.8 extends the reach of the Consul service mesh by making available additional gateway and compliance features that make it easier to integrate any service into any mesh, in addition to adding support for audit Logging and single sign-on (SSO) capabilities.
Amith Nair, vice president of product marketing for HashiCorp, said organizations that adopt Consul can apply a service mesh to both microservices and monolithic applications. That approach also eliminates the need to deploy a service mesh such as Istio, which only works when deployed in conjunction with a Kubernetes cluster.
In general, Nair said Consul enables IT organizations to gain the benefits of a service mesh without being required to retire existing application services or manage them in isolation from modern cloud-native applications.
Longer-term, Nair said HashiCorp expects an ecosystem to develop around Consul as technology partners extend the core capability of a service mesh to add, for example, application firewall services.
It’s too early to say to what degree IT organizations will embrace service meshes as a technology. However, as IT environments become more complex many enterprise IT organizations are shifting toward managing services rather than individual applications. That approach enables IT organizations to align their IT strategy more easily with specific business outcomes.
At a time when many organizations are also trying to accelerate a transition to digital business processes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of those digital business processes are typically a collection of loosely coupled application services that could be managed via a service mesh.
Nair said while it’s still early in terms of adoption, most enterprise IT organizations are now at least aware of what a service mesh does and why they might need to deploy one. The challenge, of course, will be getting IT organizations to prioritize the deployment of a service mesh when many IT budgets have become suddenly constrained. It’s also not clear who inside of those IT organizations will fund service mesh projects, which benefit a variety of application projects—application owners tend not to directly fund centralized IT management services, which leaves it up to IT leaders to fund. The challenge is, most IT budget dollars are already allocated.
In the meantime, developers will continue to embrace everything from Kubernetes to serverless computing frameworks. However, the rate at which new applications are deployed generally far exceeds the rate at which applications are retired. As such, IT organizations should expect to find themselves managing a wide array of different types of application services for many years to come.