Using Kiali to configure Istio’s traffic management.

Request Routing

The Travel Demo application has several portals deployed on the travel-portal namespace consuming the travels service deployed on the travel-agency namespace.

The travels service is backed by a single workload called travels-v1 that receives requests from all portal workloads.

At a moment of the lifecycle the business needs of the portals may differ and new versions of the travels service may be necessary.

This step will show how to route requests dynamically to multiple versions of the travels service.

To deploy the new versions of the travels service execute the following commands:

kubectl apply -f <(curl -L -n travel-agency
kubectl apply -f <(curl -L -n travel-agency

Travels-v2 and travels-v3

As there is no specific routing defined, when there are multiple workloads for travels service the requests are uniformly distributed.

Travels graph before routing

The Traffic Management features of Istio allow you to define Matching Conditions for dynamic request routing.

In our scenario we would like to perform the following routing logic:

  • All traffic from routed to travels-v1
  • All traffic from routed to travels-v2
  • All traffic from routed to travels-v3

Portal workloads use HTTP/1.1 protocols to call the travels service, so one strategy could be to use the HTTP headers to define the matching condition.

But, where to find the HTTP headers ? That information typically belongs to the application domain and we should examine the code, documentation or dynamically trace a request to understand which headers are being used in this context.

There are multiple possibilities. The Travel Demo application uses an Istio Annotation feature to add an annotation into the Deployment descriptor, which adds additional Istio configuration into the proxy.

Istio Config annotations

In our example the HTTP Headers are added as part of the trace context.

Then tracing will populate custom tags with the portal, device, user and travel used.

Travels Service Request Routing

We will define three “Request Matching” rules as part of this request routing. Define all three rules before clicking the Create button.

In the first rule, we will add a request match for when the portal header has the value of

Define the exact match, like below, and click the “Add Match” button to update the “Matching selected” for this rule.

Add Request Matching

Move to “Route To” tab and update the destination for this “Request Matching” rule. Then use the “Add Route Rule” to create the first rule.

Route To

Add similar rules to route traffic from to travels-v2 workload and from to travels-v3 workload.

When the three rules are defined you can use “Create” button to generate all Istio configurations needed for this scenario. Note that the rule ordering does not matter in this scenario.

Rules Defined

The Istio config for a given service is found on the “Istio Config” card, on the Service Details page.

Service Istio Config

Once the Request Routing is working we can verify that outbound traffic from every portal goes to the single travels workload. To see this clearly use a “Workload Graph” for the “travel-portal” namespace, enable “Traffic Distribution” edge labels and disable the “Service Nodes” Display option:

Travel Portal Namespace Graph

Note that no distribution label on an edge implies 100% of traffic.

Examining the “Inbound Traffic” for any of the travels workloads will show a similar pattern in the telemetry.

Travels v1 Inbound Traffic

Using a custom time range to select a large interval, we can see how the workload initially received traffic from all portals but then only a single portal after the Request Routing scenarios were defined.

Kiali Wizards allow you to define high level Service Mesh scenarios and will generate the Istio Configuration needed for its implementation (VirtualServices, DestinationRules, Gateways and PeerRequests). These scenarios can be updated or deleted from the “Actions” menu of a given service.

To experiment further you can navigate to the travels service and update your configuration by selecting “Request Routing”, as shown below. When you have finished experimenting with Routing Request scenarios then use the “Actions” menu to delete the generated Istio config.

Update or Delete

Fault Injection

The Observe step has spotted that the hotels service has additional traffic compared with other services deployed in the travel-agency namespace.

Also, this service becomes critical in the main business logic. It is responsible for querying all available destinations, presenting them to the user, and getting a quote for the selected destination.

This also means that the hotels service may be one of the weakest points of the Travel Demo application.

This step will show how to test the resilience of the Travel Demo application by injecting faults into the hotels service and then observing how the application reacts to this scenario.

Fault Injection Action

Select an HTTP Delay and specify the “Delay percentage” and “Fixed Delay” values. The default values will introduce a 5 seconds delay into 100% of received uuests.

HTTP Delay

Telemetry is collected from proxies and it is labeled with information about the source and destination workloads.

In our example, let’s say that travels service (“Service A” in the Istio diagram below) invokes the hotels service (“Service B” in the diagram). Travels is the “source” workload and hotels is the “destination” workload. The travels proxy will report telemetry from the source perspective and hotels proxy will report telemetry from the destination perspective. Let’s look at the latency reporting from both perspectives.

Istio Architecture

The travels workload proxy has the Fault Injection configuration so it will perform the call to the hotels service and will apply the delay on the travels workload side (this is reported as source telemetry).

We can see in the hotels telemetry reported by the source (the travels proxy) that there is a visible gap showing 5 second delay in the request duration.

Source Metrics

But as the Fault Injection delay is applied on the source proxy (travels), the destination proxy (hotels) is unaffected and its destination telemetry show no delay.

Destination Metrics

The injected delay is propagated from the travels service to the downstream services deployed on travel-portal namespace, degrading the overall response time. But the downstream services are unaware, operate normally, and show a green status.

Degraded Response Time

As part of this step you can update the Fault Injection scenario to test different delays. When finished, you can delete the generated Istio config for the hotels service.

Traffic Shifting

In the previous Request Routing step we have deployed two new versions of the travels service using the travels-v2 and travels-v3 workloads.

That scenario showed how Istio can route specific requests to specific workloads. It was configured such that each portal deployed in the travel-portal namespace (, and were routed to a specific travels workload (travels-v1, travels-v2 and travels-v3).

This Traffic Shifting step will simulate a new scenario: the new travels-v2 and travels-v3 workloads will represent new improvements for the travels service that will be used by all requests.

These new improvements implemented in travels-v2 and travels-v3 represent two alternative ways to address a specific problem. Our goal is to test them before deciding which one to use as a next version.

At the beginning we will send 80% of the traffic into the original travels-v1 workload, and will split 10% of the traffic each on travels-v2 and travels-v3.

Traffic Shifting Action

Create a scenario with 80% of the traffic distributed to travels-v1 workload and 10% of the traffic distributed each to travels-v2 and travels-v3.

Split Traffic

Travels Graph

Istio Telemetry is grouped per logical application. That has the advantage of easily comparing different but related workloads, for one or more services.

In our example, we can use the “Inbound Metrics” and “Outbound Metrics” tabs in the travels application details, group by “Local version” and compare how travels-v2 and travels-v3 are working.

Compare Travels Workloads Compare Travels Workloads

The charts show that the Traffic distribution is working accordingly and 80% is being distributed to travels-v1 workload and they also show no big differences between travels-v2 and travels-v3 in terms of request duration.

As part of this step you can update the Traffic Shifting scenario to test different distributions. When finished, you can delete the generated Istio config for the travels service.

TCP Traffic Shifting

The Travel Demo application has a database service used by several services deployed in the travel-agency namespace.

At some point in the lifecycle of the application the telemetry shows that the database service degrades and starts to increase the average response time.

This is a common situation. In this case, a database specialist suggests an update of the original indexes due to the data growth.

Our database specialist is suggesting two approaches and proposes to prepare two versions of the database service to test which may work better.

This step will show how the “Traffic Shifting” strategy can be applied to TCP services to test which new database indexing strategy works better.

To deploy the new versions of the mysqldb service execute the commands:

kubectl apply -f <(curl -L -n travel-agency
kubectl apply -f <(curl -L -n travel-agency

TCP Traffic Shifting Action

Create a scenario with 80% of the traffic distributed to mysqldb-v1 workload and 10% of the traffic distributed each to mysqldb-v2 and mysqldb-v3.

TCP Split Traffic

MysqlDB Graph

Note that TCP telemetry has different types of metrics, as “Traffic Distribution” is only available for HTTP/gRPC services, for this service we need to use “Traffic Rate” to evaluate the distribution of data (bytes-per-second) between mysqldb workloads.

TCP services have different telemetry but it’s still grouped by versions, allowing the user to compare and study pattern differences for mysqldb-v2 and mysqldb-v3.

Compare MysqlDB Workloads

The charts show more peaks in mysqldb-v2 compared to mysqldb-v3 but overall a similar behavior, so it’s probably safe to choose either strategy to shift all traffic.

As part of this step you can update the TCP Traffic Shifting scenario to test a different distribution. When finished, you can delete the generated Istio config for the mysqldb service.

Request Timeouts

In the Fault Injection step we showed how we could introduce a delay in the critical hotels service and test the resilience of the application.

The delay was propagated across services and Kiali showed how services accepted the delay without creating errors on the system.

But in real scenarios delays may have important consequences. Services may prefer to fail sooner, and recover, rather than propagating a delay across services.

This step will show how to add a request timeout for one of the portals deployed in travel-portal namespace. The and portals will accept delays but will timeout and fail.

Repeat the Fault Injection step to add delay on hotels service.

Add a rule to add a request timeout only on requests coming from portal:

  • Use the Request Matching tab to add a matching condition for the portal header with value.
  • Use the Request Timeouts tab to add an HTTP Timeout for this rule.
  • Add the rule to the scenario.

Request Timeout Rule

A first rule should be added to the list like:

Voyages Portal Rule

Add a second rule to match any request and create the scenario. With this configuration, requests coming from will match the first rule and all others will match the second rule.

Any Request Rule

Create the rule. The Graph will show how requests coming from start to fail, due to the request timeout introduced.

Requests coming from other portals work without failures but are degraded by the hotels delay.

Travels Graph

This scenario can be visualized in detail if we examine the “Inbound Metrics” and we group by “Remote app” and “Response code”.

Travels Inbound Metrics Travels Inbound Metrics

As expected, the requests coming from don’t propagate the delay and they fail in the 2 seconds range, meanwhile requests from other portals don’t fail but they propagate the delay introduced in the hotels service.

As part of this step you can update the scenarios defined around hotels and travels services to experiment with more conditions, or you can delete the generated Istio config in both services.

Circuit Breaking

Distributed systems will benefit from failing quickly and applying back pressure, as opposed to propagating delays and errors through the system.

Circuit breaking is an important technique used to limit the impact of failures, latency spikes, and other types of network problems.

This step will show how to apply a Circuit Breaker into the travels service in order to limit the number of concurrent requests and connections.

In this example we are going to deploy a new workload that will simulate an important increase in the load of the system.

kubectl apply -f <(curl -L -n travel-portal

The loadtester workload will try to create 50 concurrent connections to the travels service, adding considerable pressure to the travels-agency namespace.

Loadtester Graph

The Travel Demo application is capable of handling this load and in a first look it doesn’t show unhealthy status.

Loadtester Details

But in a real scenario an unexpected increase in the load of a service like this may have a significant impact in the overall system status.

Use the “Traffic Shifting” Wizard to distribute traffic (evenly) to the travels workloads and use the “Advanced Options” to add a “Circuit Breaker” to the scenario.

Traffic Shifting with Circuit Breaker

The “Connection Pool” settings will indicate that the proxy sidecar will reject requests when the number of concurrent connections and requests exceeds more than one.

The “Outlier Detection” will eject a host from the connection pool if there is more than one consecutive error.

In the loadtester versioned-app Graph we can see that the travels service’s Circuit Breaker accepts some, but fails most, connections.

Remember, that these connections are stopped by the proxy on the loadtester side. That “fail sooner” pattern prevents overloading the network.

Using the Graph we can select the failed edge, check the Flags tab, and see that those requests are closed by the Circuit breaker.

Loadtester Flags Graph

If we examine the “Request volume” metric from the “Outbound Metrics” tab we can see the evolution of the requests, and how the introduction of the Circuit Breaker made the proxy reduce the request volume.

Loadtester Outbound Metrics

As part of this step you can update the scenarios defined around the travels service to experiment with more Circuit Breaker settings, or you can delete the generated Istio config in the service.

Understanding what happened:

(i) Circuit Breaking

(ii) Outlier Detection

(iii) Connection Pool Settings

(iv) Envoy’s Circuit breaking Architecture


This tutorial has shown several scenarios where Istio can route traffic to different versions in order to compare versions and evaluate which one works best.

The Traffic Shifting step was focused on travels service adding a new travels-v2 and travels-v3 workloads and the TCP Traffic Shifting showed how this scenario can be used on TCP services like mysqldb service.

Mirroring (or shadowing) is a particular case of the Traffic Shifting scenario where the proxy sends a copy of live traffic to a mirrored service.

The mirrored traffic happens out of band of the primary request path. It allows for testing of alternate services, in production environments, with minimal risk.

Istio mirrored traffic is only supported for HTTP/gRPC protocols.

This step will show how to apply mirrored traffic into the travels service.

We will simulate the following:

  • travels-v1 is the original traffic and it will keep 80% of the traffic
  • travels-v2 is the new version to deploy, it’s being evaluated and it will get 20% of the traffic to compare against travels-v1
  • But travels-v3 will be considered as a new, experimental version for testing outside of the regular request path. It will be defined as a mirrored workload on 50% of the original requests.

Mirrored Traffic

Note that Istio does not report mirrored traffic telemetry from the source proxy. It is reported from the destination proxy, although it is not flagged as mirrored, and therefore an edge from travels to the travels-v3 workload will appear in the graph. Note the traffic rates reflect the expected ratio of 80/20 between travels-v1 and travels-v2, with travels-v3 at about half of that total.

Mirrored Graph

This can be examined better using the “Source” and “Destination” metrics from the “Inbound Metrics” tab.

The “Source” proxy, in this case the proxies injected into the workloads of travel-portal namespace, won’t report telemetry for travels-v3 mirrored workload.

Mirrored Source Metrics

But the “Destination” proxy, in this case the proxy injected in the travels-v3 workload, will collect the telemetry from the mirrored traffic.

Mirrored Destination Metrics

As part of this step you can update the Mirroring scenario to test different mirrored distributions.

When finished you can delete the generated Istio config for the travels service.