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RSS 2023 Predictions: Digital Transformation, Cloud Native and Service Mesh Continue Their Momentum; Open Source Returns to its Roots


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

Digital Transformation, Cloud Native and Service Mesh Continue Their Momentum; Open Source Returns to its Roots

By Idit Levine, Founder and CEO of

Solo Prediction: Rise of Microservices Leads to a Resurgence in Digital Transformation

While the pandemic accelerated many digital transformation journeys out of extreme necessity, it is still a highly dynamic area with regards to enterprise evolution. Well-established brands are now pushing back on disruptive startups as the economy changes, and their learnings over the last couple years are seeing them really expand and evolve their digital transformation efforts. For enterprise organizations that are still "on the fence" of whether or not to embrace a digital transformation, you have already been left behind.

The most successful companies follow a digital-first strategy, where their entire technology organization is digitally oriented and connected, all the time. This brings us closer to the point where systems and processes support each other in the most efficient manner possible. This critically important digital intelligence will continue to grow in the coming year through the mainstream use of microservices, of which, recent research shows that 85% of companies are modernizing their applications to a microservices architecture.

Microservices have opened the doors to new approaches to developing applications by combining the concepts of service-oriented architecture (SOA), containerization, and DevOps and will become even more indispensable in the coming year for organizations embracing digital transformation.

Solo Prediction: Service mesh is evolving into its second phase, Cloud-native 2.0, as some early Kubernetes and microservices trends mature.

As companies become more comfortable with Kubernetes and microservices, they begin to give more freedom to development teams, which leads to more clusters. Managing that sprawl is an area where many companies will begin to understand the value of advanced service mesh capabilities.

Customers are looking for more flexibility from their service mesh, more options to either get started or make things easier for adoption. Functionality like Istio Ambient Mesh will help with this.

Customers are also realizing that in a cloud-native world, API gateway and service mesh have quite a bit of overlapping functionality and are looking for these two capabilities to be less siloed and more integrated. This will lead to a big rethinking of what the integrated architecture should look like - control plane, data plane, modularity of the architecture, etc.

How to best manage observability in a distributed environment is still an evolving area, at both Layer 4 and Layer 7, but observability will remain a top priority for enterprise IT organizations in 2023.

Solo Prediction: Kubernetes will reign supreme as the "platform for building platforms."

Adoption of Kubernetes is consistently increasing. According to's Service Mesh Adoption Survey report, who surveyed over 700 IT professionals, nearly two-thirds of companies (64%) are using Kubernetes in production. Kubernetes will continue its rapid adoption as the platform for building platforms.

Solo Prediction: Service meshes will play an even greater role in helping organizations secure their applications and networks.

As Istio becomes an integral part of organizations' cloud-native stack of technologies (along with Kubernetes, all things open source), it will also become a key part of bolstering security within companies. We will see more government agencies and commercial organizations adopt Istio to strengthen zero-trust mandates within technology infrastructure.

Today, software security still has significant holes, and a missed patch or single misconfiguration can open the door for a breach or hack. For companies moving to the cloud-native architecture of microservices and containerized applications, the risk is even greater. Companies must think beyond protecting the perimeter and the network, and factor in the multiple connections between microservice containers. With microservices, the "at-risk" surface area has increased exponentially.

A service mesh can help companies that use microservices by combining security and operations into a single infrastructure layer that sits between the containerized application and the network. This is the convergence of zero-trust network security and service mesh technology. A service mesh can help mitigate service impersonation, unauthorized access, and data exfiltration attacks - not to mention, a service mesh can help manage encryption, authentication, authorization, policy control, and configuration. And with role-based access control (RBAC), service mesh supports the zero-trust philosophy of "trust no one, authenticate everyone."

Solo Prediction: 2023 is the year service mesh goes mainstream.

The driving force being service mesh innovation in 2023 will be the continued growth and adoption of cloud-native and microservices, and the very real need to manage it all. Service mesh is a dedicated infrastructure layer that addresses the complexity of these increasingly distributed architectures and the challenges it creates for developers and operators.

Innovation will continue to be rapid in Istio as the community grows. Istio, for example, was founded in 2017 and recently accepted as a CNCF incubator project, reflecting production adoption and maturity of the project. The project has over 6000 contributors from over 1000 companies and having CNCF's governance will only expand the active, diverse community and skillset that surrounds Istio.

Observability, management and zero-trust security remain top enterprise priorities and at the heart of service mesh. Istio transparently adds these capabilities to applications without adding them to your code. 

Solo Prediction: Istio is emerging as "the Kubernetes of service mesh."

Kubernetes has crossed the chasm, with nearly two-thirds of companies using it in production. Istio is on the same track, fast emerging as "the Kubernetes of service mesh." Companies turn to microservices and service mesh to power their digital transformation initiatives. In fact, the 2022 Service Mesh Adoption Survey, conducted by and ClearPath Strategies, shows that 85% of companies are modernizing their applications to a microservices architecture. As they do so, they are faced with the challenge of managing an ever-complex application environment with multiple services - and that's where service mesh enters the picture.

In 2023, companies will be even more focused on simplifying their technology processes. And as more companies connect microservices with faster, more reliable application development - they will be looking at service mesh, and more specifically, Istio. In our research, we found that companies chose an Istio-based service mesh by an almost three-to-one margin to boost application reliability and security. Istio's strong alignment with Kubernetes is a key part of its continual uptake. Remember that many users are still running their services on VMs or bare metal, so it is critical for service mesh projects to provide a smooth transition to containers. Istio supports this transition. Also, as companies look to simplify their security and risk mitigation planning, they will recognize Istio as the best option. Security in Istio delivers strong policy, encryption, authentication, authorization, and audit features to protect services and data.

Solo Prediction: Open source will have a reckoning and return to its roots and principles.

Open source will slam headfirst into commercial friction next year. And more open source proponents will demand a return to the roots: namely, community and contribution.

Open source is more enterprise mainstream than ever. According to 2022 data, 82% of IT leaders were more likely to favor a vendor who contributes to the open source community (Red Hat, State of Enterprise Open Source, February 2022.) We'll see the dedicated open source community "stand up" against those that would shut members out of the community, or stifle innovation, whether that's through limiting industry event participation, taking credit, supporting practices that encourage vendor lock-in, or any other closed approach to what should remain open.

More big vendors will join forces for the good of a project, similar to Google and Solo recently did on Ambient Mesh, as one example. Both had started our own projects working separately on the challenges toward the same goal, and ultimately chose to combine resources to expedite and strengthen the contribution. Google brought a security focus to the table, while Solo brought a lens to streamlining operations. Collaboration remains key to open source innovation.




Idit Levine is the founder and CEO of She founded with the idea to create tools that help organizations meaningfully adopt cloud-native technologies alongside their existing IT investments. Idit has a long history in cloud, infrastructure and open source in both startup and large enterprise companies.

Published Friday, November 04, 2022 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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