Lab 4 - Perform Traffic Management

Using rules to manage traffic

The core component used for traffic management in Istio is Pilot, which manages and configures all the Envoy proxy instances deployed in a particular Istio service mesh. It lets you specify what rules you want to use to route traffic between Envoy proxies, which run as sidecars to each service in the mesh. Each service consists of any number of instances running on pods, containers, VMs etc. Each service can have any number of versions (a.k.a. subsets). There can be distinct subsets of service instances running different variants of the app binary. These variants are not necessarily different API versions. They could be iterative changes to the same service, deployed in different environments (prod, staging, dev, etc.). Pilot translates high-level rules into low-level configurations and distributes this config to Envoy instances. Pilot uses three types of configuration resources to manage traffic within its service mesh: Virtual Services, Destination Rules, and Service Entries.

Virtual Services

A VirtualService defines a set of traffic routing rules to apply when a host is addressed. Each routing rule defines matching criteria for traffic of a specific protocol. If the traffic is matched, then it is sent to a named destination service (or subset or version of it) defined in the service registry.

Destination Rules

A DestinationRule defines policies that apply to traffic intended for a service after routing has occurred. These rules specify configuration for load balancing, connection pool size from the sidecar, and outlier detection settings to detect and evict unhealthy hosts from the load balancing pool. Any destination host and subset referenced in a VirtualService rule must be defined in a corresponding DestinationRule.

Service Entries

A ServiceEntry configuration enables services within the mesh to access a service not necessarily managed by Istio. The rule describes the endpoints, ports and protocols of a white-listed set of mesh-external domains and IP blocks that services in the mesh are allowed to access.

The Guestbook app

In the Guestbook app, there is one service: guestbook. The guestbook service has two distinct versions: the base version (version 1) and the modernized version (version 2). Each version of the service has three instances based on the number of replicas in guestbook-deployment.yaml and guestbook-v2-deployment.yaml. By default, prior to creating any rules, Istio will route requests equally across version 1 and version 2 of the guestbook service and their respective instances in a round robin manner. However, new versions of a service can easily introduce bugs to the service mesh, so following A/B Testing and Canary Deployments is good practice.

A/B testing with Istio

A/B testing is a method of performing identical tests against two separate service versions in order to determine which performs better. To prevent Istio from performing the default routing behavior between the original and modernized guestbook service, define the following rules (found in istio101/workshop/plans):

kubectl create -f guestbook-destination.yaml

Let's examine the rule:

apiVersion: networking.istio.io/v1alpha3
kind: DestinationRule
metadata:
name: destination-rule-guestbook
spec:
host: guestbook
subsets:
- name: v1
labels:
version: '1.0'
- name: v2
labels:
version: '2.0'

Next, apply the VirtualService

kubectl replace -f virtualservice-all-v1.yaml

Let's examine the rule:

apiVersion: networking.istio.io/v1alpha3
kind: VirtualService
metadata:
name: virtual-service-guestbook
spec:
hosts:
- '*'
gateways:
- guestbook-gateway
http:
- route:
- destination:
host: guestbook
subset: v1

The VirtualService defines a rule that captures all HTTP traffic coming in through the Istio ingress gateway, guestbook-gateway, and routes 100% of the traffic to pods of the guestbook service with label "version: v1". A subset or version of a route destination is identified with a reference to a named service subset which must be declared in a corresponding DestinationRule. Since there are three instances matching the criteria of hostname guestbook and subset version: v1, by default Envoy will send traffic to all three instances in a round robin manner.

View the guestbook application using the $NLB_HOSTNAME specified in Exercise 5 and enter it as a URL in Firefox or Chrome web browsers. You can use the echo command to get this value, if you don't remember it.

echo $NLB_HOSTNAME

To enable the Istio service mesh for A/B testing against the new service version, modify the original VirtualService rule:

kubectl replace -f virtualservice-test.yaml

Let's examine the rule:

apiVersion: networking.istio.io/v1alpha3
kind: VirtualService
metadata:
name: virtual-service-guestbook
spec:
hosts:
- '*'
gateways:
- guestbook-gateway
http:
- match:
- headers:
user-agent:
regex: '.*Firefox.*'
route:
- destination:
host: guestbook
subset: v2
- route:
- destination:
host: guestbook
subset: v1
guestbook app in chrome and firefox

In Istio VirtualService rules, there can be only one rule for each service and therefore when defining multiple HTTPRoute blocks, the order in which they are defined in the yaml matters. Hence, the original VirtualService rule is modified rather than creating a new rule. With the modified rule, incoming requests originating from Firefox browsers will go to the newer version of guestbook. All other requests fall-through to the next block, which routes all traffic to the original version of guestbook.

Canary deployment

In Canary Deployments, newer versions of services are incrementally rolled out to users to minimize the risk and impact of any bugs introduced by the newer version. To begin incrementally routing traffic to the newer version of the guestbook service, modify the original VirtualService rule:

kubectl replace -f virtualservice-80-20.yaml

Let's examine the rule:

apiVersion: networking.istio.io/v1alpha3
kind: VirtualService
metadata:
name: virtual-service-guestbook
spec:
hosts:
- '*'
gateways:
- guestbook-gateway
http:
- route:
- destination:
host: guestbook
subset: v1
weight: 80
- destination:
host: guestbook
subset: v2
weight: 20

In the modified rule, the routed traffic is split between two different subsets of the guestbook service. In this manner, traffic to the modernized version 2 of guestbook is controlled on a percentage basis to limit the impact of any unforeseen bugs. This rule can be modified over time until eventually all traffic is directed to the newer version of the service.

View the guestbook application using the $NLB_HOSTNAME specified in Exercise 5 and enter it as a URL in Firefox or Chrome web browsers. Ensure that you are using a hard refresh (command + Shift + R on Mac or Ctrl + F5 on windows) to remove any browser caching. You should notice that the guestbook should swap between V1 or V2 at about the weight you specified.

Route all traffic to v2

For the following exercises, we'll be working with Guestbook v2. Route all traffic to guestbook v2 with a new VirtualService rule:

cat <<EOF | kubectl replace -f -
apiVersion: networking.istio.io/v1alpha3
kind: VirtualService
metadata:
name: virtual-service-guestbook
spec:
hosts:
- '*'
gateways:
- guestbook-gateway
http:
- route:
- destination:
host: guestbook
subset: v2
EOF

Implementing circuit breakers with destination rules

Istio DestinationRules allow users to configure Envoy's implementation of circuit breakers. Circuit breakers are critical for defining the behavior for service-to-service communication in the service mesh. In the event of a failure for a particular service, circuit breakers allow users to set global defaults for failure recovery on a per service and/or per service version basis. Users can apply a traffic policy at the top level of the DestinationRule to create circuit breaker settings for an entire service, or it can be defined at the subset level to create settings for a particular version of a service.

Depending on whether a service handles HTTP requests or TCP connections, DestinationRules expose a number of ways for Envoy to limit traffic to a particular service as well as define failure recovery behavior for services initiating the connection to an unhealthy service.

Further reading

Questions

  1. Where are routing rules defined? Options: (VirtualService, DestinationRule, ServiceEntry) Answer: VirtualService

  2. Where are service versions (subsets) defined? Options: (VirtualService, DestinationRule, ServiceEntry) Answer: DestinationRule

  3. Which Istio component is responsible for sending traffic management configurations to Istio sidecars? Options: (Mixer, Citadel, Pilot, Kubernetes) Answer: Pilot

  4. What is the name of the default proxy that runs in Istio sidecars and routes requests within the service mesh? Options: (NGINX, Envoy, HAProxy) Answer: Envoy