Traffic Mirroring with Istio for Testing in Production

Routing rules for HTTP traffic

Trying to enumerate all the possible combinations of test cases for testing services in non-production/test environments can be daunting. In some cases, you’ll find that all of the effort that goes into cataloging these use cases doesn’t match up to real production use cases. Ideally, we could use live production use cases and traffic to help illuminate all of the feature areas of the service under test that we might miss in more contrived testing environments.

Istio can help here. With the release of Istio 0.5.0, Istio can mirror traffic to help test your services. You can write route rules similar to the following to enable traffic mirroring:

apiVersion: config.istio.io/v1alpha2
kind: RouteRule
metadata:
  name: mirror-traffic-to-httbin-v2
spec:
  destination:
    name: httpbin
  precedence: 11
  route:
  - labels:
      version: v1
    weight: 100
  - labels:
      version: v2
    weight: 0
  mirror:
    name: httpbin
    labels:
      version: v2

A few things to note here:

  • When traffic gets mirrored to a different service, that happens outside the critical path of the request
  • Responses to any mirrored traffic is ignored; traffic is mirrored as “fire-and-forget”
  • You’ll need to have the 0-weighted route to hint to Istio to create the proper Envoy cluster under the covers; this should be ironed out in future releases.

Learn more about mirroring by visiting the Mirroring Task and see a more comprehensive treatment of this scenario on my blog.

See also

This task demonstrates the traffic mirroring/shadowing capabilities of Istio.

Introduction, motivation and design principles for the Istio v1alpha3 routing API.

Describes how to configure Istio ingress with a network load balancer on AWS.

Describes a simple scenario based on Istio's Bookinfo example.

Describes a simple scenario based on Istio's Bookinfo example.

Using Istio to create autoscaled canary deployments.