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Linkerd Joins the Cloud Native Computing Foundation

William Morgan

William Morgan
January 24, 2017 • 4 min read

(This bit of Linkerd history appeared on 24 January 2017, cross-posted on the Cloud Native Computing Foundation blog. Linkerd has evolved quite a lot since 2017: in particular, what we donated in 2017 was Linkerd 1, not the powerful, secure, Rust-based Linkerd 2 of today. However, we’ll always be proud to have been a part of the early history of the CNCF, and grateful for the phenomenal support of our community. Thank you!)

Today, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) voted to accept Linkerd as its fifth hosted project, alongside Kubernetes, PrometheusOpenTracing and Fluentd.

Linkerd is an open source, resilient service mesh for cloud-native applications. Created by Buoyant founders William Morgan and Oliver Gould in 2015, Linkerd builds upon Finagle, the scalable microservice library that powers companies like TwitterSoundcloud, Pinterest and ING. Linkerd brings scalable, production-tested reliability to cloud-native applications in the form of a service mesh, a dedicated infrastructure layer for service communication that adds resilience, visibility and control to applications without requiring complex application integration.


“As companies continue the move to cloud native deployment models, they are grappling with a new set of challenges running large scale production environments with complex service interactions,” said Fintan Ryan, Industry Analyst at Redmonk. “The service mesh concept in Linkerd provided a consistent abstraction layer for these challenges, allowing developers to deliver on the promise of microservices and cloud native applications at scale. In bringing Linkerd under the auspices of CNCF, Buoyant are providing an important building block for the wider cloud native community to use with confidence.”


Linkerd enables a consistent, uniform layer of visibility and control across services and adds features critical for reliability at scale, including latency-aware load balancing, connection pooling, automatic retries and circuit breaking. As a service mesh, Linkerd also provides transparent TLS encryption, distributed tracing and request-level routing. These features combine to make applications scalable, performant, and resilient. Linkerd integrates directly with orchestrated environments such as Kubernetes and DC/OS, and supports a variety of service discovery systems such as ZooKeeper, Consul, and etcd. It features HTTP/2 and gRPC support, and can provide metrics in Prometheus format.

“The service mesh is becoming a critical part of building scalable, reliable cloud native applications,” said William Morgan, CEO of Buoyant and co-creator of Linkerd. “Our experience at Twitter showed that, in the face of unpredictable traffic, unreliable hardware, and a rapid pace of production iteration, uptime and site reliability for large microservice applications is a function of how the services that comprise that application communicate. Linkerd allows operators to manage that communication at scale, improving application reliability without tying it to a particular set of libraries or implementations."

Companies and organizations around the world use Linkerd in production to power their software infrastructure, including Monzo, ZoozForeSee, OlarkHoughton Mifflin Harcourt, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and Douban. Linkerd is featured as a default part of cloud-native distributions such as Apprenda’s Kismatic Enterprise Toolkit and StackPointCloud.

“Linkerd was built based on real world developer experiences in solving problems found when building large production systems at web scale companies like Twitter and Google,” said Chris Aniszczyk, COO of of the CNCF. “It brings these expertise to the masses, allowing a greater number of companies to benefit from microservices. I’m thrilled to have Linkerd as a CNCF inception project and for them to share their knowledge of building a cloud native service mesh with scalable observability systems to the wider CNCF community.”

individual instance diagram
individual instance diagram

As CNCF’s first inception level project, under the CNCF Graduation Criteria v1.0, Linkerd will receive mentoring from the TOC, priority access to the CNCF Community Cluster, and international awareness at CNCF events like CloudNativeCon/KubeCon Europe. The CNCF Graduation Criteria was recently voted in by the TOC to provide every CNCF project an associated maturity level of either inception, incubating or graduated, which allows CNCF to review projects at different maturity levels to advance the development of cloud native technology and services.

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