When an organization is forced to manage distributed service-to-service communication over a large network, service mesh provides a dedicated layer where separate parts of an application can communicate with each other. This way, software teams can centralize communication, rather than monitor each individual service message exchange independently.
When service mesh emerged in 2018, many saw this technology as a way to tackle the complexity of container deployment at production scale. They also saw it as a way to address unsustainable manual traffic management processes.
In 2019, the success of service mesh implementation inspired a rush of vendors that hoped to cash in on the need to manage services at scale. The industry saw a booming sub-ecosystem around two major service mesh options, Google's Istio and the open source Envoy, plus many à la carte tools, such as Tetrate and Meshery. A handful of newcomers jumped into the fray, such as HashiCorp, Kong, Containous, Aspen Mesh and Layer5. Despite the competition, Istio and Envoy led the pack.
The service mesh market saw two significant events in 2019. First, Envoy Project Authors fine-tuned its increasingly popular sidecar proxy design pattern. Second, Google kept its service mesh technology, and Istio, out of the open source Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), and thereby retained proprietary control.