New Market Disruptors Tackle Microservices Network and App Management

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • A new breed of San Francisco startups is addressing microservices connectivity issues head-on.
  • Infrastructure and cloud providers will integrate innovative service mesh technologies into management solutions this year.

A new crop of San Francisco startups is addressing a major sticking point among enterprise app modernization projects: the need for more lightweight connectivity solutions which address those points of intersection between apps and networks. Complexities around infrastructure implementations of modern architectures have finally taken their toll on app modernization projects within enterprises, stalling critical DevOps initiatives and prompting key OSS technologies to come to the forefront along with the disruptive innovators behind them.

We’ve created a new set of Market Disruptor reports called ‘Microservices Network and App Management,’ highlighting those vendors which are building solutions alongside service mesh OSS technology like Istio and Linkerd to manage connectivity and apps and address the demands of distributed apps.

Traditional application platform providers such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft and, more recently, infrastructure providers such as F5 and VMware are enhancing their application and infrastructure platforms to include microservices toolchains and frameworks based on various implementations of a service mesh which provide guidance and development patterns to help developers get familiar with this new approach.

As a result, I’m keeping a closer eye on pure plays such as HashiCorp, Heptio, Buoyant, and NGINX. By way of validating their importance, recent acquisition activity within this market segment includes VMware’s intent to purchase Heptio in February (please seeVMware’s New Heptio Based Kubernetes Offering Targets DIY DevOps Teams) and F5’s intent to purchase Nginx in March.

My conclusion on what makes these vendors disruptive includes the following:

  • NGINX, whose OSS web server technology is used by two-thirds of the world’s busiest websites, addresses microservices-based application environments via its Ingress Controller and service mesh innovations. Application delivery services/networking provider F5 announced its intent to acquire NGINX to help bridge traditional application infrastructure technology with modern app architectures. Ultimately, the joint offering will span from infrastructure security, application management, and app security to application delivery controllers, API management, microservices, and app servers. By combining the two companies’ portfolios, F5 and NGINX will be able to support customers’ hybrid application scenarios encompassing virtualization, monolithic, and microservices-based applications.
  • Heptio is being acquired by VMware for its Kubernetes expertise to help manage and orchestrate its infrastructure platform. VMware’s network virtualization and security platform, NSX, has begun addressing DevOps issues, helping guide the company’s native and multi-cloud enablement strategy. NSX Service Mesh better positions VMware to support customers’ need for a platform to ease operational management and connectivity services, simplifying container configurations, and more easily refactor monolithic apps into microservices-based apps. The technology is available as a pre-integrated component to VMware’s PKS container portfolio. Adding to its container solution set, Essential PKS (via Heptio) provides customers with a flexible upstream Kubernetes approach to microservices and service mesh.
  • HashiCorp, a cloud automation service provider, offers a number of OSS and commercial versions of infrastructure/data center to DevOps/developer technologies, including most recently a service mesh offering, Consul Connect, to help enterprises adopt microservices and containerization development/deployment methods. Its strength is in evolving enterprises’ networking, load balancing, security, and authentication technology up to the application layer while abstracting these tasks for ops teams to support microservices-based app development and multi-cloud, both of which are very complex for operations to configure and manage.
  • Buoyant aims to lower the friction to adopting a modern app development architecture which is closely tied to Kubernetes. The company is the creator and primary contributor to Linkerd, a CNCF Apache-licensed network proxy which integrates with Kubernetes container orchestration. Its strength is its lightweight and simplified approach to abstracting the infrastructure complexities, including network balancing and applying TLS encryption, around microservices implementations, helping enterprises advance modern app development projects.

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