Linkerd case studies: meeting security requirements, reducing latency, and migrating from Istio

William Morgan

William Morgan

Jul 20, 2020

As the creators of Linkerd, Buoyant has been, for several years now, in the unique position of helping organizations around the globe adopt the service mesh. From the early days before “service mesh” was even a term, to the latest multi-cluster Kubernetes-based adoption, we’ve seen Linkerd usage grow rapidly across industries and verticals. And the pace is only increasing.

But why are organizations adopting Linkerd? In this series of case studies, we showcase the production adoption of Linkerd at Nordstrom, finleap connect, Paybase, and Subspace. These four case studies highlight some major themes:

  1. Security is a driving force behind service mesh adoption. From regulatory requirements to security best practices, Linkerd’s ability to transparently and seamlessly authenticate and encrypt traffic with mutual TLS (mTLS) is a major reason organizations bring it into their software stack.
  2. Istio is the starting point, but Linkerd is the final destination. All four of the case studies evaluated both Istio and Linkerd and ultimately chose Linkerd, for reasons of performance, resource consumption, and most importantly, operational simplicity.
  3. Latency matters, and the service mesh can help. All four case studies highlighted the low latency of Linkerd as a critical factor in their decision-making process, and the most latency-sensitive of all of them, Subspace, was able to actually reduce end-to-end latency with Linkerd.

Nordstrom

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Nordstrom has had to quickly find a way to address the rapid shift to ecommerce, with particular attention to security concerns. The company explored building its own service mesh and evaluated Istio, but quickly decided the smarter move was to choose an existing service mesh option, eventually settling happily on Linkerd as a lightweight, scalable method for managing secure communications between microservices. Read the full user story.

finleap connect

finleap connect, a financial services platform, found similar benefits with Linkerd to provide security guarantees for its customers in the banking, insurance and asset management industries. The company wanted a service mesh to support mTLS encryption for all the traffic between services in the cluster, without adding overhead that would meaningfully degrade performance. Principal platform engineer Christian Hüning talks more about how the visibility, automation, and scalability that Linkerd provides has become integral for finleap connect. Read the full user story.

Paybase

The collaboration between Paybase and the Linkerd community highlights the advantages of choosing a strongly supported open source solution for security. After evaluating Istio, Paybase ultimately chose Linkerd Paybase because of the minimal amount of operational management and automatic in-transit security features. In addition, the company stresses how helpful the Linkerd community has been in providing input to address technical issues quickly. Read the full user story.

Subspace

Finally, Subspace shares its experience with Linkerd to deliver multiplayer gaming “at the speed of light.” Although it at first seemed counterintuitive to use a service mesh in an ultra-low-latency environment, Subspace has found a strategic use of Linkerd that actually reduces total latency—the service mesh is so lightweight that the minimal latency it adds is overshadowed by the latency it reduces through observability. In short, this unique use case of Linkerd gives Subspace a large net positive on operational outcomes. Read the full user story.

What’s next?

These four case studies represent the tip of the iceberg for Linkerd’s production adoption. Over the next few months we’ll continue our work to highlight Linkerd adopters and the challenges they solved with the world’s fastest, lightest, open governance and open source service mesh.

Stay tuned for lots more!

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