Rancher 2.3:  Istio and Kiali

Rancher 2.3: Istio and Kiali

Saiyam Pathak
Saiyam Pathak
Gray Calendar Icon Published: January 7, 2020
Gray Calendar Icon Updated: January 26, 2021

Rancher is a single point of control to manage all your kubernetes clusters anywhere. Rancher 2.3.x was released a few weeks back and it came with huge updates.

Top Features included Istio and Windows nodes support. In this article, we will mainly discuss Istio support offered out of the box through the Rancher UI, see an example deployment, and visualize it via the Kiali dashboard.


  • Kubernetes Cluster up and running
  • Rancher Installation and importing the cluster

In this example, we will use a Large k3s managed cluster by Civo Cloud with Rancher App Installed (Rancher Application from the marketplace will install Rancher on the cluster and import it as well). You can find the steps for setting up the cluster in this post.

While launching the cluster, select Rancher Application from the marketplace to install Rancher during cluster creation. Civo will spin up the Rancher server and import the cluster as well.

Civo Cluster Creation

Once you have the cluster ready it will give you the new Rancher 2.3 dashboard that has support for Istio and Kiali. Let’s dive into the dashboard.

After the cluster creation, you can download kubeconfig, connect to the cluster, and see if the Rancher server and the cattle-agents are up and running.

kubectl get nodes
NAME               STATUS   ROLES    AGE   VERSION
kube-node-79ed     Ready    worker   96m   v1.15.4-k3s.1
kube-master-bca5   Ready    master   96m   v1.15.4-k3s.1

kubectlg get pods -n cattle-system
NAME                                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
cattle-5669c57dcf-tw65t                 1/1     Running   0          3h27m
cattle-node-agent-8lppr                 1/1     Running   0          3h27m
cattle-node-agent-g5f6f                 1/1     Running   0          3h27m
cattle-cluster-agent-587b6d44cf-ppnjd   1/1     Running   0          3h27m

In order to access the Rancher UI, create an ingress rancher-ingress.yaml as follows:

>> kubectl apply -f rancher-ingress.yaml
ingress.extensions/cattle-ingress created

kubectl get ingress -n cattle-system

NAME             HOSTS   ADDRESS        PORTS   AGE
cattle-ingress   *   80      32s

Now if you go to any of the node ip’s you will see the Rancher server running.

Rancher server

Create a password, save the URL, and you should be able to see the imported cluster.


From the documentation:

Cloud platforms provide a wealth of benefits for the organizations that use them. However, there’s no denying that adopting the cloud can put strains on DevOps teams. Developers must use microservices to architect for portability, meanwhile, operators are managing extremely large hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. Istio lets you connect, secure, control, and observe services.

At a high level, Istio helps reduce the complexity of these deployments and eases the strain on your development teams. It is a completely open-source service mesh that layers transparently onto existing distributed applications. It is also a platform, including APIs that let it integrate into any logging platform, or telemetry or policy system. Istio’s diverse feature set lets you successfully, and efficiently, run a distributed microservice architecture, and provides a uniform way to secure, connect, and monitor microservices.

Let us enable Istio from the Rancher UI and see the deployments.

To enable Istio, you need to go to Tools > Istio. There are a lot of configuration options that you can change accordingly. For now, we will keep everything default and set ingress gateway to True. Enabling this will also enable monitoring, which is a pre-requisite for Istio to work.

After enabling, you can see monitoring and Istio pods coming up under the namespaces cattle-prometheus(for monitoring) and istio-system(for istio)

>> kubectl get pods -n istio-system

NAME                                      READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
istio-citadel-6bb9c9f6fb-md9f8            1/1     Running   0          6m16s
istio-tracing-64d646945-xm4sm             2/2     Running   0          6m15s
istio-policy-68959c7999-5kmdb             2/2     Running   1          6m16s
istio-galley-67848cd58-g5tbt              1/1     Running   0          6m16s
kiali-5f8f876bd5-6djxf                    2/2     Running   0          6m16s
istio-telemetry-778bfdcf74-ps9vl          2/2     Running   1          6m16s
istio-pilot-7546b9fdcc-rbxj8              2/2     Running   0          6m16s
istio-ingressgateway-6f877dd689-rskn4     1/1     Running   0          6m16s
istio-sidecar-injector-69c97ddbb5-x7jcv   1/1     Running   0          6m16s

>> kubectl get pods -n cattle-prometheus
NAME                                                       READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
prometheus-operator-monitoring-operator-79484b9c6f-zshlq   1/1     Running   0          7m42s
exporter-node-cluster-monitoring-wnxtc                     1/1     Running   0          7m39s
exporter-node-cluster-monitoring-k68fb                     1/1     Running   0          7m39s
grafana-cluster-monitoring-5d676d89c5-vkbzm                2/2     Running   0          7m39s
prometheus-cluster-monitoring-0                            5/5     Running   1          7m15s
exporter-kube-state-cluster-monitoring-5dfd658dc-pn8mt     1/1     Running   0          7m39s

Now let us do a sample Istio deployment, generate traffic and see it in the Kiali dashboard.

We will create the deployment, Gateway, and Virtual Service for a sample application as follows:

kubectl  label namespace default istio-injection=enabled
namespace/default labeled

kubectl  apply -f

service/details created
serviceaccount/bookinfo-details created
deployment.apps/details-v1 created
service/ratings created
serviceaccount/bookinfo-ratings created
deployment.apps/ratings-v1 created
service/reviews created
serviceaccount/bookinfo-reviews created
deployment.apps/reviews-v1 created
deployment.apps/reviews-v2 created
deployment.apps/reviews-v3 created
service/productpage created
serviceaccount/bookinfo-productpage created
deployment.apps/productpage-v1 created

kubectl  apply -f
gateway.networking.istio.io/bookinfo-gateway created

kubectl  apply -f
virtualservice.networking.istio.io/bookinfo created

Generate Traffic:
Now when the application is deployed, you can see them via the Istio gateway:

>> kubectl  get pods

NAME                              READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE

details-v1-74f858558f-m5tsx       2/2     Running   0          10m
ratings-v1-7855f5bcb9-lkhgg       2/2     Running   0          10m
productpage-v1-8554d58bff-llnqh   2/2     Running   0          10m|
reviews-v2-d6cfdb7d6-rl4zk        2/2     Running   0          10m
reviews-v3-75699b5cfb-crdrd       2/2     Running   0          10m
reviews-v1-59fd8b965b-rmct2       2/2     Running   0          10m

>> kubectl get svc

NAME          TYPE        CLUSTER-IP        EXTERNAL-IP   PORT(S)    AGE
kubernetes    ClusterIP     <none>        443/TCP    140m
details       ClusterIP   <none>        9080/TCP   10m
ratings       ClusterIP    <none>        9080/TCP   10m
reviews       ClusterIP    <none>        9080/TCP   10m
productpage   ClusterIP    <none>        9080/TCP   10m

Sample App

Let us generate some traffic by clicking Test user and Normal User.

From the Resources tab, select Istio. You can see the graphs.

From the icons on the screen, click the Kiali Icon.


Kiali is an observability console for Istio with service mesh configuration capabilities. It helps you to understand the structure of your service mesh by inferring the topology, and also provides the health of your mesh. Kiali provides detailed metrics, and a basic Grafana integration is available for advanced queries. Distributed tracing is provided by integrating Jaeger.

You can see the complete topology of the application deployed and how the flow is.

basic kiali view

Below is the Application deployed graph:

app graph

Some other graph views:

service graph

versioned app graph

workload graph


From the Docs -> Jaeger, inspired by Dapper and OpenZipkin, is a distributed tracing system released as open source by Uber Technologies. It is used for monitoring and troubleshooting microservices-based distributed systems, including:

  • Distributed context propagation
  • Distributed transaction monitoring
  • Root cause analysis
  • Service dependency analysis
  • Performance / latency optimization

Jaeger UI



In this post, we discussed how to install Istio and visualize the Service-mesh using Kiali from Rancher 2.3.x version, installed on Civo cloud. We also deployed a sample application, generated some traffic and visualized it using kiali and Jaeger.

More Resources

For more training on advanced setup and configurtion of your Kubernetes applications, register for Rancher’s Kubernetes Master Classes.

Saiyam Pathak
Saiyam Pathak
Software Engineer
Saiyam is a Software Engineer, CKA and CNCF Ambassador working on Kubernetes with a focus on creating and managing the project ecosystem. Saiyam has worked on many facets of Kubernetes, including scaling, multi-cloud, managed Kubernetes services, K8s documentation and testing. He's worked on implementing major managed services (GKE/AKS/OKE) in different organizations. When not coding or answering Slack messages, Saiyam contributes to the community by writing blogs and giving sessions on InfluxDB, Docker and Kubernetes at different meetups. Reach him on Twitter @saiyampathak where he gives tips on InfluxDB, Rancher, Kubernetes and open source.
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