What is the Difference Between Open Source and Enterprise Consul?

Dec 17, 2018

HashiCorp solutions engineer Lance Larsen explains why organizations, especially those with multiple data centers, might want to consider Consul Enterprise.

Consul is a service mesh control plane that is used by numerous enterprise customers. In fact, it's the most widely deployed service discovery solution on AWS. HashiCorp solutions engineer Lance Larsen explains why organizations, especially those with multiple data centers, might want to consider Consul Enterprise.


  • Lance Larsen

    Lance Larsen

    Sr. Solutions Engineer, HashiCorp

» Transcript

Consul is an amazing tool. It's been available now for the last five years or so. And looking at its evolution we've really worked with our users both in open source, and our enterprise customers to figure out what is the best direction forward as we align these features to solve some of the biggest scaling challenges in the world.

Open-source Consul is very much based around a very stable gossip protocol that allows you to communicate efficiently between many nodes in a mesh and deliver things like service discovery. So you have the issue of, "I've taken this big monolith application, chopped it down into maybe 10 smaller parts. How do all those applications find each other when some might be running on schedulers, some might be running on bare metal, some might be running on VMs?" The other key issue there is you have to get configuration data into those applications.

Consul solves, in open source, both of those problems extremely well. What we've seen with some of our largest users of Consul, in both open source and Enterprise, is you get to a point of scale. Whether you're needing to scale out the gossip of Consul to more nodes and you have a segmented network, where it's not full mesh and not all the nodes can actually talk to each other, this is when Enterprise Consul can come in and start to add value.

On top of that what we've really switched our focus to, and are putting a lot of effort into, is actually that service mesh category which will be part open source and part Enterprise. In open source we want you to have the ability for applications to have an identity. And we already have a very friendly service graph in Consul to model this, and we can very easily say which services can connect to other services—an application connecting to the database, for example. We want to extend this functionality around Connect to Enterprise, where open-source Connect will be focused on LAN types of connectivity and Enterprise Consul will bring that multi-DC element into it and actually allow you do service auth that's mutually TLS authenticated across multiple data centers.

So in short, open-source Consul, again, very much around those use cases of service discovery and key/value configuration as well as Connect mutual auth for services. And that really being supported in the Enterprise model around scale, offering features to help you run a better Consul central service, as well as being able to expand that out across multiple data centers.

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