Prepare for Istio Certification: Installation, Upgrade, Configuration, and Traffic Management

As certifications are becoming more prevalent in the cloud-native ecosystem, the recent graduation of Istio means things are about to get REAL. With the Istio Certified Associate launch, we felt it was critical to create a set of resources aligned with the certification blueprint while providing key foundational details of how Istio works.

To prepare the community and give you a true sense of what to expect from the certification process, we created a series of five live streams that work through the curriculum and cover the following topics:

In these presentations, we delve deeper into different topics by reviewing the Istio documentation and trying out the different configurations. In part one of this blog post, we’re sharing some high-level takeaways from the first two streams.

Istio Installation, Upgrade, and Configuration

This video provides a comprehensive overview of Istio installation, upgrade, and configuration. We cover different installation methods and provide customization tips.

  • Choosing an Istio installation profile: Istio provides different installation profiles (demo, minimal, default, etc.). Always choose the profile that suits your requirements.
  • Using istioctl CLI: The Istio CLI tool allows you to install, upgrade, and manage Istio. Familiarize yourself with the various commands and options available.
  • Customizing installation with Istio Operator API: The Istio Operator API allows you to customize the installation by specifying additional configuration options. This gives you more control over the installation process.
    Note: The Istio operator (not to be confused with the Istio Operator API) is an alternative installation method, but it is discouraged for production use.
  • Installing Istio using Helm charts: Helm charts provide a convenient way to install Istio. Ensure you have Helm installed and understand how to use Helm charts for Istio installation.
  • Reviewing the configuration: Use the istioctl profile dump command to view the default settings of the Istio installation profile. You can also provide the specific component with –config-path to view that configuration section (e.g., istioctl profile dump –config-path components.pilot)

Istio Traffic Management

The main topic of this session was traffic management. We discussed how to bring traffic inside the cluster using the ingress gateway and how to route, match, and split traffic between multiple services. We also explain how to bring outside services and make them part of the mesh.

  • The Gateway resource is used to define the host and port combination for the Ingress Gateway pod.
  • The VirtualService resource defines the traffic rules. A Gateway can be attached to a VirtualService to expose an internal Kubernetes service through the ingress gateway.
  • The rules from the DestinationRule resource are applied once the traffic has been routed to the destination and can be used to configure traffic policies, such as load balancer policies and circuit breakers.
  • To define different service versions, you can use subsets in the DestinationRule; once defined, you can use the subsets in VirtualService to route the traffic to a specific service version. Labels are used to create the subsets.
  • You can use match conditions, manipulate headers, configure CORS policy, set timeouts and retries, inject failures, rewrite hosts, and more in the VirtualService resource.
  • ServiceEntry resource is used to make an external service or API part of the mesh; they are commonly used to bring VM workloads to the mesh or when configuring global hostnames to route the traffic across multiple clusters.
  • With traffic mirroring, you can duplicate a request and send it to a different endpoint, without affecting the original request.

In part 2 of this series, we’ll cover Istio resiliency, fault injection, security, and advanced scenarios you might encounter.

Learn even more about Istio by taking our courses through Solo Academy.