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Istio 101: Your one-stop solution for service mesh issues


The rapid adoption of the cloud has provided a wealth of benefits for the organizations. Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) has enabled companies to leverage services dedicated to a particular use case, but adopting the cloud can create tense moments for DevOps. Builders (aka Developers) must use microservices to architect for portability; on the other hand; operators had to manage large hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. To vanish those DevOps tension, Istio lets you connect, secure, control, and observe services.

If you want to understand Istio’s significance on a higher level, then understand this that Istio reduces the complexity of the deployments and makes the development team’s life easy. In technical terms, an open-source service mesh that layers transparently onto existing distributed applications. It also serves the platform capabilities, such as including APIs which can integrate it into any logging platform, or telemetry, or policy system.

What is the service mesh?

A service mesh is the network of microservices that make up such applications and the interactions between them. As the service mesh grows in size and complexity, it becomes harder to comprehend and manage. It can include discovery, load balancing, failure recovery, metrics, and monitoring. There could be several complex operational requirements of a service mesh, like A/B testing, canary rollouts, rate limiting, access control, and end-to-end authentication.

Istio enables operational control over service mesh as a whole along with behavioral insights. This acts as a complete solution to satisfy the diverse requirements of microservice applications.

Why should you use Istio?

Istio’s existence lies for extensibility and to meet diverse deployment requirements. One adds Istio support to services by a special sidecar proxy deployed across the environment that intercepts every network communication between microservices, followed by configuring and manage Istio using its control plane flexibility, which includes:

Automatic load balancing for HTTP, WebSocket, TCP Traffic, and gRPC. Fine-grained control of traffic behavior. Users can enable insights such as rich routing rules, retries, failover, and fault injection. Secure service-to-service communication in a cluster with strong identity-based authentication and authorization.

The panel offers a pluggable policy layer along with configuration API supporting access controls, rate limits, and quotas.Automated metrics, logs, and traces for all traffic within a cluster, including cluster ingress and egress.

What are the core features of Istio?

Traffic Management

To simplify the complexity, it is necessary to attain visibility into the traffic. Istio’s easy rules configuration and traffic routing lets you control the flow of traffic along with API calls between services. It simplifies the configuration of service-level properties like circuit breakers, timeouts, and retries.


Istio enables developers to focus on security at the application level. It secures service communications by default, allows users to enforce policies consistently across the environment.

Istio is platform-independent, but using it with Kubernetes network policies can produce better results. Users can secure pod-to-pod or service-to-service communication at the network and application layers.


Istio offers tracing, monitoring, and logging features that can help fetch deep insights into your service mesh deployment. You can get granular visibility into the performance of the services with custom dashboards. The same custom dashboard can enable you to understand service performance and what is their impact with respect to upstream and downstream.

The perk of using Istio is that it lets you effectively set, monitor, and enforce SLOs on different services.

Istio currently supports:

1. The service deployment on Kubernetes
2. The services registered with Consul
3. Services running on individual virtual machines

1. https://istio.io/docs/concepts/
2. https://istio.io/docs/concepts/what-is-istio/#why-use-istio

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Amit Suhag
Amit Suhaghttp://cloudmanagementinsider.com/
Amit Suhag is the Senior Editor and Cloud Evangelist at CMI. He is a tech writer covering history, news, recent developments, events to everything around cloud technology. All opinions are his own.


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