Istio: A Novice Explanation

Istio: A Novice Explanation

What is ISTIO

  • A microservices manager
  • A service mesh based system. Service mesh means a system built with many microservices 🙂
  • Manages traffic, policies for authorization, encryption, load balancing, tracing, logging (all repetitive tasks are clubbed in ISTIO)
  • It is another layer on a microservice. ISTIO is hosted on the same container/VM of your microservice.

How ISTIO work

  • It needs a separate cluster to function.
  • It has four components in its architecture
    • Envoy
    • Pilot
    • Citadel
    • Galley
  • It uses a proxy server called Envoy to monitor TCP/IP traffic and pass them to another component called Mixer.
  • Citadel enforces communication security.
  • Galley takes care of user authorization part


  • At a high scale of microservices, ISTIO eases managing common tasks
  • In my opinion, the USP is that ISTIO allows these tasks without any code modification to services.

ISTIO & Kubernetes

  • Istio configurations are merged with Kubernetes service deployment YAML.
  • ISTIO adds a new section to the service or deployment YAML.
  • There are sections suchs as:
    • VirtualService: It exposes a service to public IPs through a load balancer.
    • Gateway: A public gateway with ingress config (who can contact a service)

ISTIO Commands

$ kubectl get svc -n istio-system
$ kubectl get pods -n istio-system


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