Consul compared to other service mesh software
Examples: Istio, Solo Gloo Mesh, Linkerd, Kong/Kuma, AWS App Mesh
Consul’s service mesh allows organizations to securely connect and manage their network services across multiple different environments. Using Envoy as the sidecar proxy attached to every service, Consul ensures that all service-to-service communication is authorized, authenticated, and encrypted. Consul includes traffic management capabilities like load balancing and traffic splitting, which help developers perform canary testing, A/B tests, and blue/green deployments. Consul also includes health check and observability features.
Consul is platform agnostic — it supports any runtime (Kubernetes, EKS, AKS, GKE, VMs, ECS, Lambda, Nomad) and any cloud provider (AWS, Microsoft Azure, GCP, private clouds). This makes it one of the most flexible service discovery and service mesh platforms. While other service mesh software provides support for multiple runtimes for the data plane, they require you to run the control plane solely on Kubernetes. With Consul, you can run both the control plane and data plane in different runtimes.
Consul also has several unique integrations with Vault, an industry standard for secrets management. Operators have the option to use Consul’s built-in certificate authority, or leverage Vault’s PKI engine to generate and store TLS certificates for both the data plane and control plane. In addition, Consul can automatically rotate the TLS certificates on both the data plane and control plane without requiring any type of restarts. This lets you rotate the certificates more frequently without incurring additional management burden on operators. When deploying Consul on Kubernetes, you can store sensitive data including licenses, ACL tokens, and TLS certificates centrally Vault instead of Kubernetes secrets. Vault is much more secure than Kubernetes secrets because it automatically encrypts all data, provides advanced access controls to secrets, and provides centralized governance for all secrets.