Announcing Istio 1.6

Istio just announced the release of Istio 1.6!

With this release, we continue the path we charted earlier this year in our roadmap post, sailing toward more simplicity, a better installation experience, and we have added other goodies as well.

Here’s some of what’s coming to you in today’s release:

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Last release, we introduced Istiod, a new module that reduced the number of components in an Istio installation by combining the functionality of several services. In Istio 1.6, we have completed this transition and have fully moved functionality into Istiod. This has allowed us to remove the separate deployments for Citadel, the sidecar injector, and Galley.

Great news! We’ve got a simplified experience for developers who are taking advantage of a new alpha feature in Kubernetes. If you use the new appProtocol field (which is Alpha in 1.18) in the Kubernetes EndpointPort or ServicePort API, you will no longer need to append the name field in your Service to denote the protocol.

Better lifecycle

We continue to make installing and upgrading Istio a better experience. Our command line tool istioctl gives better diagnostic information, has a simpler install command, and even gives status in color!

Upgrading Istio has been improved as well, in several powerful ways. First, we now support canarying of the Istio control plane itself. That means you can install a new version of the control plane alongside the existing version and selectively have proxies use the new one. Check out this blog post for more details on that.

We also have an istioctl upgrade command that will perform an in-place upgrade in your clusters (still giving you the control over updating the proxies themselves).

Check out the documentation for all of the details on the new upgrade experience.

Observe this

Many companies adopt Istio solely to get better observability of distributed applications, so we continue to invest there. There are too many changes to list them all here, so please see the release notes for the full details. Some highlights: you’ll see more configurability, better ability to control your trace sampling rates, and updated Grafana dashboards (and we’re even publishing them on Grafana on the Istio org page).

Better Virtual Machine support

Expanding our support for workloads not running in Kubernetes was one of the our major areas of investment for 2020, and we’re excited to announce some great progress here.

For those of you who are adding non-Kubernetes workloads to meshes (for example, workloads deployed on VMs), the new WorkloadEntry resource makes that easier than ever. We created this API to give non-Kubernetes workloads first-class representation in Istio. It elevates a VM or bare metal workload to the same level as a Kubernetes Pod, instead of just an endpoint with an IP address. You now even have the ability to define a Service that is backed by both Pods and VMs. Why is that useful? Well, you now have the ability to have a heterogeneous mix of deployments (VMs and Pods) for the same service, providing a great way to migrate VM workloads to a Kubernetes cluster without disrupting traffic to and from it.

VM-based workloads remain a high priority for us, and you can expect to see more in this area over the coming releases.

Networking improvements

Networking is at the heart of a service mesh, so we have put in some great traffic management features as well. Istio has improved handling of secrets, which provides better support for Kubernetes Ingress. We are also have enabled Gateway SDS by default for a more secure experience. And we have added experimental support for the (also experimental) Kubernetes Service APIs.

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