Generate Istio Metrics Without Mixer [Alpha]

Istio 1.4 adds alpha support to generate service-level HTTP metrics directly in the Envoy proxies. This feature lets you continue to monitor your service meshes using the tools Istio provides without needing Mixer.

The in-proxy generation of service-level metrics replaces the following HTTP metrics that Mixer currently generates:

  • istio_requests_total
  • istio_request_duration_seconds
  • istio_request_size

Enable service-level metrics generation in Envoy

To generate service-level metrics directly in the Envoy proxies, follow these steps:

Option 1:

$ istioctl manifest apply --set values.telemetry.enabled=true,values.telemetry.v2.enabled=true

Option 2:

Follow these steps manually:

  1. To disable Mixer http reporting, set disableMixerHttpReports to true in your mesh configuration

    Check the existing status:

    $ kubectl -n istio-system get cm istio -o jsonpath="{}" | grep disableMixerHttpReports
    disableMixerHttpReports: true

    If disableMixerHttpReports is set to false, update your mesh configuration:

    $ kubectl -n istio-system get cm istio -o yaml | sed -e 's/disableMixerHttpReports: false/disableMixerHttpReports: true/g' | kubectl replace -f -
  2. To generate service-level metrics, the proxies must exchange workload metadata. A custom filter handles this exchange. Enable the metadata exchange filter with the following command:

    $ kubectl -n istio-system apply -f @tests/integration/telemetry/stats/prometheus/testdata/metadata_exchange_filter.yaml@
  3. To actually generate the service-level metrics, you must apply the custom stats filter.

    $ kubectl -n istio-system apply -f @tests/integration/telemetry/stats/prometheus/testdata/stats_filter.yaml@

Go to the Istio Mesh Grafana dashboard. Verify that the dashboard displays the same telemetry as before but without any requests flowing through Istio’s Mixer.

Differences with Mixer-based generation

Small differences between the in-proxy generation and Mixer-based generation of service-level metrics persist in Istio 1.3. We won’t consider the functionality stable until in-proxy generation has full feature-parity with Mixer-based generation.

Until then, please consider these differences:

  • The istio_request_duration_seconds latency metric has the new name: istio_request_duration_milliseconds. The new metric uses milliseconds instead of seconds. We updated the Grafana dashboards to account for these changes.
  • The istio_request_duration_milliseconds metric uses more granular buckets inside the proxy, providing increased accuracy in latency reporting.

Performance impact

Here’s what we’ve measured so far:

  • All new filters together use 10% less CPU resources for the istio-proxy containers than the Mixer filter.
  • The new filters add ~5ms P90 latency at 1000 rps compared to Envoy proxies configured with no telemetry filters.
  • If you only use the istio-telemetry service to generate service-level metrics, you can switch off the istio-telemetry service. This could save up to ~0.5 vCPU per 1000 rps of mesh traffic, and could halve the CPU consumed by Istio while collecting standard metrics.

Known limitations

  • We only provide support for exporting these metrics via Prometheus.
  • We provide no support to generate TCP metrics.
  • We provide no proxy-side customization or configuration of the generated metrics.
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