Week 32, 2018 - Istio 1.0; AWS CDK

Istio reaches 1.0 and AWS releases the AWS CDK.

Istio 1.0

After a bit of a delay1, Istio 1.0 has gone live. Istio is a service mesh, basically a set of tools that you can install in your Kubernetes cluster that offers a number of functionalities. The main ones are various security features, such as an easy way to encrypt traffic between the calls, and monitoring tools that give you insight into the performance of your cluster. The biggest difference with more traditional monitoring being that it focuses on things like the traffic between your micro services.

Back at Container Camp in May, I attended a workshop on Istio and found it to be very interesting. I haven’t had a chance to roll it out yet, but hopefully with version 1.0 that might change in the not too distant future.


AWS released a new management tool for building things on their infrastructure called AWS CDK, aka AWS Cloud Development Kit. This works differently from the other AWS infrastructure configurations, the most popular one of which is likely CloudFormation.

CloudFormation lets you declare your infrastructure in templates. These were originally written in JSON, but nowadays it’s possible to use YAML instead2. And with the introduction of SAM this has even been extended into different types. In the end though, while these templates are reusable and they offer the ability to use some basic functions, they are still meant to be purely declarative. Which means that if you want a template to spin up 20 of the same things, you have to define them 20 times.

And this is where the AWS CDK differs. Instead of using a declarative language it allows you to use a programming language to configure things. At the moment this is still limited to two languages, typescript and Java3, but they already say that this will be expanded in the future. It also introduces the concepts of Applications as a way to group your infrastructure as well as more traditional stacks. That said, like with every tool there are also limitations to using aws-cdk and it’s still early days.

I haven’t done enough with AWS CDK yet4 to say how well it will work in the long run. Of course, if you want to use something like it there are plenty of similar offerings out there that it needs to compete with as well. Ranging from the ability to script the creation of your CloudFormation templates with tools like cfndsl or even complete management tools like Terraform. It isn’t always clear which tools released on the awslabs will pan out, and which ones won’t. I’ll likely write up a more comprehensive article once I’ve had a chance to play with it, but because it’s so new I’d still be wary of using it for anything other than playing around with.

  1. At the last Container Camp there was a session that was optimistically supposed to be about the newly released 1.0. Unfortunately, that was a couple of days before 0.8 was released. [return]
  2. Unless of course you hate human-readable templates, then you can still use JSON. [return]
  3. Not exactly my favourite languages. [return]
  4. So far, I’ve been limited to the documentation which is pretty extensive which is limited to straightforward examples. [return]
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