What is ASM in Alibaba Cloud?

Alibaba Cloud Service Mesh (ASM) is a powerful tool that helps manage, secure, and monitor microservices-based applications running on the Alibaba Cloud platform. In this article, we'll delve into the details of ASM, exploring its features, benefits, and how it can enhance your cloud-native applications.

Alibaba Cloud Service Mesh

Introduction to ASM

ASM is a cloud-native service mesh that provides capabilities such as service discovery, load balancing, circuit breaking, and observability for your microservices architecture. It helps simplify the management of microservices by abstracting away the complexities of networking and communication between services.

Architecture of Alibaba Cloud Service Mesh (ASM)

Alibaba Cloud Service Mesh (ASM) architecture is designed to provide a robust and scalable platform for managing microservices-based applications. Let's explore the key components and how they work together:

Architecture of Alibaba Cloud Service Mesh (ASM)

Related Image: © Alibaba Cloud

  • Control Plane
    • ASM Control Plane: The ASM control plane is responsible for managing the configuration and policies of the service mesh. It includes the following components:
      • ASM API Server: Exposes APIs for configuring the service mesh and managing its resources.
      • ASM Web UI: A graphical user interface for visualizing and managing the service mesh.
      • ASM Controller: Orchestrates the deployment and management of the sidecar proxies.
  • Data Plane
    • Sidecar Proxies: Each microservice instance is deployed with a sidecar proxy, such as Envoy, which intercepts all inbound and outbound traffic to the microservice. The sidecar proxy is responsible for implementing the networking and security policies defined by the control plane.
    • Data Plane Agents: These agents run on each host and are responsible for collecting telemetry data from the sidecar proxies and sending it to the control plane for analysis.
  • Service Discovery
    • Service Registry: ASM uses a service registry, such as Alibaba Cloud's Auto-Discovery Service (ADS), to keep track of the services running in the mesh. The service registry allows services to discover and communicate with each other dynamically.
  • Load Balancing
    • Load Balancer: ASM includes a load balancer that distributes incoming traffic across the instances of a service. The load balancer helps improve the scalability and reliability of the service by evenly distributing the workload.
  • Security
    • Mutual TLS (mTLS): ASM uses mTLS to secure communication between services within the mesh. Each sidecar proxy is configured with a client certificate, which is used to authenticate and encrypt traffic between services.
    • Access Control: ASM provides access control policies that allow you to define fine-grained permissions for accessing services within the mesh. This helps prevent unauthorized access and ensures that only trusted services can communicate with each other.
  • Observability
    • Telemetry Collection: ASM collects telemetry data, such as metrics, logs, and traces, from the sidecar proxies and data plane agents. This data provides insights into the performance and health of your microservices.
    • Monitoring Dashboard: ASM includes a monitoring dashboard that allows you to visualize and analyze the telemetry data collected from the service mesh. The dashboard provides real-time insights into the behavior of your microservices.
  • Integration with Alibaba Cloud Services
    • Alibaba Cloud Services: ASM integrates seamlessly with other Alibaba Cloud services, such as Elastic Compute Service (ECS), Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK), and Function Compute. This allows you to deploy and manage your microservices-based applications on Alibaba Cloud with ease.

Key Features of ASM

  1. Service Discovery: ASM automatically discovers services within your application, making it easier to establish connections between them.
  2. Load Balancing: ASM distributes incoming traffic evenly across your microservices, ensuring optimal performance and resource utilization.
  3. Circuit Breaking: ASM includes circuit-breaking capabilities, which help prevent cascading failures by isolating faulty services.
  4. Observability: ASM provides detailed insights into your microservices, including metrics, logs, and traces, allowing you to monitor and troubleshoot issues effectively.
  5. Security: ASM enhances the security of your microservices by implementing features such as mutual TLS (mTLS) and access control policies.

Benefits of Using ASM

  • Improved Scalability: ASM makes it easier to scale your microservices-based applications, allowing you to handle increased traffic and workload.
  • Enhanced Reliability: By implementing features like circuit breaking and load balancing, ASM helps improve the reliability of your microservices architecture.
  • Simplified Management: ASM simplifies the management of microservices by providing a centralized control plane for configuration and monitoring.
  • Increased Security: With features like mTLS and access control, ASM enhances the security of your microservices, protecting them from unauthorized access and attacks.
  • Better Observability: ASM provides detailed insights into your microservices, helping you identify and resolve issues quickly.

How does ASM work?

ASM works by deploying a sidecar proxy alongside each microservice instance. This proxy intercepts all inbound and outbound traffic to the microservice, allowing ASM to apply various networking and security policies.

ASM uses a control plane to manage the configuration of the sidecar proxies and collect telemetry data from them. The control plane also provides a dashboard for monitoring the health and performance of your microservices.

Getting Started with ASM

To get started with ASM, you'll need an Alibaba Cloud account and an existing microservices-based application. You can then deploy ASM into your application using the Alibaba Cloud Console or the Alibaba Cloud Command Line Interface (CLI).

Once ASM is deployed, you can configure it to manage the networking, security, and monitoring aspects of your microservices. You can also use the ASM dashboard to monitor the health and performance of your microservices in real-time.


Alibaba Cloud Service Mesh (ASM) is a powerful tool for managing microservices-based applications on the Alibaba Cloud platform. Its features and benefits make it an essential component for any organization looking to adopt a cloud-native architecture. By implementing ASM, you can improve the scalability, reliability, and security of your microservices, making it easier to build and manage complex applications in the cloud.

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