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Announcing Linkerd's Graduation

William Morgan

William Morgan
July 28, 2021 • 4 min read

an airplane taking off

Today we’re humbled and honored to announce that Linkerd is now a graduated project of the CNCF, joining Kubernetes, Prometheus, Envoy, and other projects at the foundation’s highest level of project maturity.

A victory for simplicity in a space notorious for complexity

For a project that started out as a small wrapper over some open source Twitter libraries and went on to face intense competition from some of the biggest companies in the world, graduation is a significant victory. But not just for Linkerd.

This is a victory for everyone who has championed the virtues of simplicity and minimalism and rejected the narrative that service meshes must be complex and slow.

This is a victory for everyone who has chosen a service mesh based on performance benchmarks, or coherent design principles, or solving concrete problems, rather than relying on vendor marketing or giving into hype cycles.

Most of all, this is a victory for everyone around the world who—whether they know it or not—depend on Linkerd to keep the critical software they rely on safe, fast, and reliable.

A different kind of service mesh

Linkerd is the first service mesh to rise to the level of graduation. But Linkerd has a long history of firsts: Linkerd was the first service mesh project and the one to coin the term itself. It was the first project to enter the CNCF’s inception (now sandbox) phase. It was the first CNCF project to adopt Rust—a language we believe is the future of the cloud.

Linkerd was also the first project to face intense competition from industry giants after joining the CNCF. Some of the largest companies in the world, including Google, IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft, launched their own service meshes rather than contributing to Linkerd. But this competition only reinforced our commitment to bringing simplicity and performance to our users, and Linkerd adoption has only grown, year after year—not by marketing campaigns but by word of mouth.

Today, momentum is an all-time high. This year alone we’ve seen Linkerd installs jump by 300%; large enterprises like Elkjøp, Entain, H-E-B, Microsoft (ironically?), and HP deploy Linkerd to production; and a stream of high-profile public defections to Linkerd from projects like Istio. We’ve seen Linkerd become part of industry offerings, from marketplace offerings at cloud-native service providers like Civo to managed Linkerd services like Buoyant Cloud. And the year is far from over.

What’s next for Linkerd?

Graduation is a moment of gratitude and reflection, but it’s not a moment of pause. There’s never been a better time to get involved with Linkerd. We have a long roadmap of exciting features ahead of us, a friendly community of passionate adopters, and a clear vision for the future of the service mesh. New users, contributors, and maintainers are all welcome!

Above all else, we promise to be relentless and unwavering in our mission to keep Linkerd simple, lightweight, and fast; to minimize human cost of service mesh operation wherever possible; and to continue making Linkerd the best service mesh on the planet.

A public call to the cloud native industry

Join us.

Linkerd is the future of the service mesh. It is faster, smaller, and simpler than any other mesh. It’s built on a foundation of secure and future-forward technologies like Rust rather than legacy technology like C++. Most importantly, Linkerd is built with a singular focus on, and empathy for, the user—and in the end, that empathy must and will prevail.

Today, the cloud native world is fractured with competing service mesh projects. This does a fundamental disservice to our community. Linkerd is not our project, it’s the community’s project. Join us and together let’s build the service mesh that the world deserves.


We are profoundly grateful, as always, to every member of the Linkerd community, especially to our Linkerd heroes, and to everyone who has ever given Linkerd a shot, helped someone else out, given a talk or written a blog post, given us feedback, contributed a PR, or otherwise been a part of the community. A special thank you to Dave Zolotusky, Lee Calcote, Chris Aniszczyk, and Amye Scavarda Perrin for helping us through the graduation process.

Linkerd is for everyone

Linkerd is a community project and is hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Linkerd is committed to open governance. If you have feature requests, questions, or comments, we’d love to have you join our rapidly-growing community! Linkerd is hosted on GitHub, and we have a thriving community on Slack, Twitter, and the mailing lists. Come and join the fun!

(Photo by JZ Guo on Unsplash.)

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