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What is a Service Mesh?

A service mesh is a layer of communication and control between applications or microservices and the network stack they typically communicate over. This layer controls communication and helps microservices share data. This service-to-service interaction is governed by logic built into the service mesh layer. Simply put, microservices are small or partial applications, or individual functions, and the network stack is the physical networking layer.

How is a Service Mesh Achieved?

Typically, a service mesh is implemented via sidecars. These sidecars are usually attached to every microservice on your network. The service mesh abstracts communication between microservices into these sidecars and the sidecars communicate with one another in a mesh topology.

Because most modern apps are now smaller than their predecessors, they have shrunken the communication logic written into each app, microservice, function, etc. With one or two microservices, or maybe even a dozen, the communication logic generally isn't difficult to deal with. At scale, or when you have hundreds of such apps, a service mesh can be thought of as 'required'.

So, a service mesh consists of the following components:

  • A communication layer of control between apps or microservices
  • The network stack they typically communicate over
  • Abstracts communication and implements 'sidecars' with every microservice
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