Available as of v2.3.0-alpha5

Using Rancher, you can connect, secure, control, and observe services through integration with Istio, a leading open-source service mesh solution. Istio provides behavioral insights and operational control over the service mesh as a whole, offering a complete solution to satisfy the diverse requirements of microservice applications.


The required resource allocation for each service is listed in the configuration options. Please review it before attempting to enable Istio.

In larger deployments, it is strongly advised that the infrastructure be placed on dedicated nodes in the cluster by adding node selector for each Istio components.

Default Resource Consumption

Workload Container CPU - Request Mem - Request CPU - Limit Mem - Limit Configurable
istio-pilot discovery 500m 2048Mi 1000m 4096Mi Y
istio-telemetry mixer 1000m 1024Mi 4800m 4096Mi Y
istio-policy mixer 1000m 1024Mi 4800m 4096Mi Y
istio-tracing jaeger 100m 100Mi 500m 1024Mi Y
prometheus prometheus 750m 750Mi 1000m 1024Mi Y
grafana grafana 100m 100Mi 200m 512Mi Y
Others - 500m 500Mi - - N
Total - 3950m 5546Mi - - -

Enabling Istio

As an administrator or cluster owner, you can configure Rancher to deploy Istio to your Kubernetes cluster.

  1. From the Global view, navigate to the cluster that you want to configure Istio for.

  2. Select Tools > Istio in the navigation bar.

  3. Select Enable to show the Istio configuration options. Enter in your desired configuration options. Ensure you have enough resources on your worker nodes to enable Istio.

  4. Click Save.

Result: The Istio application, cluster-istio, is added as an application to the cluster’s system project. After the application is active, you can start using Istio.

Using Istio for Metrics Visualization

Once Istio is active, you can see visualizations of your Istio service mesh with Kiali, Jaeger, Grafana, and Prometheus, which are all open-source projects that Rancher has integrated with.

  • Kiali helps you define, validate, and observe your Istio service mesh. Kiali shows you what services are in your mesh and how they are connected. Kiali includes Jaeger Tracing to provide distributed tracing out of the box.
  • Jaeger is a distributed tracing system released as open source by Uber Technologies. It is used for monitoring and troubleshooting microservices-based distributed systems.
  • Grafana is an analytics platform that allows you to query, visualize, alert on and understand your metrics. Grafana lets you visualize data from Prometheus.
  • Prometheus is a systems monitoring and alerting toolkit.

With Istio enabled, you can:

Leveraging Istio in Projects

After you enable Istio, you can see traffic metrics and a traffic graph on the project level. You can see a traffic graph for all namespaces that have Istio sidecar injection enabled. For more information, refer to How to Use Istio in Your Project.

Disabling Istio

To disable Istio:

  1. From the Global view, navigate to the cluster that you want to disable Istio for.

  2. Select Tools > Istio in the navigation bar.

  3. Click Disable Istio, then click the red button again to confirm the disable action.

Result: The cluster-istio application in the cluster’s system project gets removed.