Introducing Conduit

William Morgan

William Morgan
December 5, 2017 • 5 min read

Conduit is now part of Linkerd! Read more >

Today, we’re very happy to introduce Conduit, our new open source service mesh for Kubernetes.

We’ve built Conduit from the ground up to be the fastest, lightest, simplest, and most secure service mesh in the world. It features an incredibly fast and safe data plane written in Rust, a simple yet powerful control plane written in Go, and a design that’s focused on performance, security, and usability. Most importantly, Conduit incorporates the many lessons we’ve learned from over 18 months of production service mesh experience with Linkerd.

Why build Conduit? Linkerd is the most widely deployed production service mesh in the world. It introduced the term “service mesh”, spawning a whole new category of software infrastructure, and has powered trillions of production requests across the globe at companies like Salesforce, Paypal, Expedia, AOL, and Monzo. Throughout this time, we’ve been deeply involved with our customers and users—we’ve sat in their meetings, we’ve built joint roadmaps, and we’ve woken up with them at 3am to firefight. We’ve learned an incredible amount about what happens when open source infrastructure meets the real world.

One thing we’ve learned is that there are deployment models where Linkerd’s resource footprint is simply too high. While Linkerd’s building blocks—widely-adopted, production-tested components like Finagle, Netty, Scala, and the JVM—allow Linkerd scale up to incredibly high workloads when given lots of CPU and RAM, they aren’t designed to scale down to environments that have limited resources—in particular, to sidecar-based Kubernetes deployments. So, earlier this year, we asked ourselves: if we could build the ideal service mesh, focused on ultra-low-resource environments, but with the benefit of everything we’ve learned from 18 months of production service mesh experience—what would we build?

The answer is Conduit. Conduit is a next generation service mesh that makes microservices safe and reliable. Just like Linkerd, it does this by transparently managing the runtime communication between services, automatically providing features for observability, reliability, security, and flexibility. And just like Linkerd, it’s deployed as a data plane of lightweight proxies that run alongside application code, and a control plane of highly available controller processes. Unlike Linkerd, however, Conduit is explicitly designed for low resource sidecar deployments in Kubernetes.

So what makes Conduit so great?

Blazingly fast and lightweight

A single Conduit proxy has a sub-millisecond p99 latency and runs with less than 10mb RSS.

Built for security

From Rust’s memory safety guarantees to TLS by default, we’re focused on making sure Conduit has security in mind from the very beginning.


Conduit’s feature set is designed to be as minimal and as composable as possible, while allowing customization through gRPC plugins.

Incredibly powerful

From built-in aggregated service metrics to a powerful CLI to features like tap (think “tcpdump for microservices”), Conduit gives operators some new and incredibly powerful tools to run microservices in production.

We’ve been hard at work on Conduit for the past 6 months. We’ve hired incredible people like Phil, Carl, Sean, and Brian. We’ve invested in core technologies like Tokio and Tower that make Conduit extremely fast without sacrificing safety. Most importantly, we’ve designed Conduit to solve real world problems based on all we’ve learned from our Linkerd community.

What does this mean for Linkerd?

In short, very little. Linkerd is the most widely adopted production service mesh in the world, and it won’t be going anywhere. We’ll continue to develop, maintain, and provide commercial support for Linkerd, and we’re committed to ensuring that our many production Linkerd users remain happy campers.

Conduit is not Linkerd 2.0. Conduit targets a very specific environment—Kubernetes—and does not address any of the wide variety of platforms or integration use cases supported by Linkerd. For our many users of ECS, Consul, Mesos, ZooKeeper, Nomad, Rancher, or hybrid and multi-environment setups spanning these systems, Linkerd is the best service mesh solution for you today, and we’ll continue to invest in making it even better.

Try it now!

We’ve just released Conduit 0.1. Try it here! This is an alpha release—so early that it only supports HTTP/2 (i.e. doesn’t even support HTTP/1.1). That said, we wanted to get it out the door so that early adopters and enthusiasts could start experimenting with it, and because we want your input on how to make Conduit work for you.

Over the next few months, we’ll be aggressively working toward making Conduit ready for production, and in 0.2, targeted for early next year, we’ll add support for HTTP/1.1 and TCP. (We’ve published the Conduit roadmap here). We’ll be very public in our progress and the goals we’re setting for the project. Finally, we’ll also offer commercial support for Conduit—if this interests you, please reach out to us directly.

Want to learn more? Subscribe to the release announcements mailing list, join us in the #Conduit channel in Linkerd Slack, follow @runconduit on Twitter for updates and news, or find us on GitHub.

Conduit is open source and licensed under Apache 2.0.

(And, of course, we’re hiring! If you think Conduit and Linkerd are the coolest things since time-sliced multitasking, take a gander at our careers page and drop us a note!)

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