Azure Open Service Mesh: Easily overlooked service offers key benefits for managing operations

June 21 2022

Microsoft announced the general availability of Arc-enabled Open Service Mesh (OSM) at the end of April. As Microsoft documentation explains, a service mesh offers capabilities like traffic management, policy, security, resiliency, observability or identity management for workloads. It helps to decouple these tasks from the application layer and move them to the infrastructure layer.

Writing about OSM in August, 2020, Azure blogger and commentator Thorsten Hans had this to say:

I like the simplicity and frictionless of Microsoft Open Service Mesh. Installing and onboarding applications is straight forward, and by relying on the SMI specification, fundamental tasks can be implemented quickly. However, Open Service Mesh has to catch up with the average feature-set of its competitors. Especially when it comes to overall SMI compliance, resilience features like a circuit breaker, fault injection, etc. Luckily, the team at Microsoft is aware of this. I recognized some interesting features while looking at the public roadmap. So it is worth checking the latest OSM releases regularly.

But first off, what exactly is OSM? What does it do and how does it function behind the scenes? And nearly two years after Hans shared his impressions of the product, where is it at today?

Thomas Stringer is Principal Software Engineer Lead for the OSM team at Microsoft. He recently spoke about the offering with the Azure Podcast. According to Stringer, OSM is part of upstream capabilities for Kubernetes. Microsoft defines OSM as “a lightweight, extensible, Cloud Native service mesh that allows users to uniformly manage, secure, and get out-of-the-box observability features for highly dynamic microservice environments.” An open source project, developed with CNCF, it is essentially software layered on top of Kubernetes to deliver common application scenarios that Kubernetes alone does not support. For instance, many developers do not know the ins and outs of TLS termination or managing expiring certificates.

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