Istio’s 1.6 release brings improvements to existing features and new features that will make things easier for developers. Upgrades to 1.6 will also be a jumping off point for even more significant improvements to come: for managing hybrid services, and integrating VM and bare metal into the Istio mesh. A VM-friendly definition of a service will allow you to migrate VM workloads to a Kubernetes cluster without disrupting traffic flow.

The 1.6 enhanced integration with Prometheus gives greater control over the metrics that Prometheus can gather from Istio. The addition of an experimental mesh-wide configuration tracing API gives developers the ability to configure advanced tracing options and greater control over the metrics.

Finally, 1.6 represents the completion of functionalities introduced with Istiod, which replaces Citadel, Galley, and sidecar injection, making Istio sleeker and simpler to use.

Notable enhancements to Istio 1.6 include:

  • The new WorkloadEntry addition allows for more straightforward configuration of non-Kubernetes workloads to join the mesh. This means:
    • First-class treatment of VMs and bare metal, elevating them to the same status as a Kubernetes pod. – The WorkloadSelector allows for Istio to automatically load balance between VMs and pods, forcing configuration to be in sync, and making potential migrations easier by increasing the options available.
  • An in-development feature to support configuring gateway topology settings.
    • Prior to 1.6, user -> load balancer -> load balancer -> load balancer -> istio-pod -> service was the path because Istio only had a single way of transferring the load balancer IP. Now, It provides more configuration options so that you can control how user IPs make their way to services.
    • The addition of an experimental mesh-wide tracing configuration API.
    • This API provides developers with the ability to configure advanced tracking options by controlling the trace sampling rates, the maximum tag lengths for URL tags, and custom tags extraction for all traces within the mesh.
    • Improvements to Prometheus integration experience by adding standard Prometheus scrape annotations to proxies and the control plane workloads.
    • The integration removes the need for specialized configuration to discover and consume Istio metrics. More details are available in the operations guide for Prometheus. A complete list of Istio 1.6 features is available on the community release announcement.

“With Istio 1.6, we’re adding in many new features for operators to make their daily lives easier,” says Tetrate engineer and Istio Contributor Cynthia Coan. “Whether it be the building blocks of describing things outside of the mesh, more visibility with tracing metrics, or Gateway Topologies. It’s getting better and better to be an operator.”

Additional Resources:

Read more about the Istio 1.6 release highlights.
Get Istio updates on Twitter.
Read Istio community news.

Istio is an open source service mesh that provides a uniform way to secure, connect, and observe microservices.

Tetrate, the enterprise service mesh companies, helps organizations adopt and implement Envoy and Istio and tame the complexity of managing microservices in any environment. Ask us anything about service mesh at

Tia Louden and Tevah Platt are content writers for Tetrate.