Extending Istio 1.5 with Gloo API Gateway

Integrating with Istio 1.5 SDS at the edge for API Gateway functionality

Gloo is an open-source API Gateway built on Envoy Proxy that highly complements a service mesh like Istio with edge capabilities like request/response transformations, direct-response actions, and Open API Spec/Swagger and gRPC discovery. Gloo Enterprise supports more sophisticated security edge requirements like OIDC authentication, OPA authorization, Web Application Fire walling (WAF), rate limiting and others. A lot of Gloo users put Gloo at the edge and integrate with Istio for east-west traffic management.

In the Istio 1.5 release, many architectural considerations have changed with how folks deploy and manage Istio. The way mTLS is implemented in Istio has also changed a bit. For example, In the past, Istio would create secrets for each service account and mount those in for the workloads to assume their identity. That has now changed. Istio uses Envoy’s SDS to distribute workload identity/certificates by default with Istio 1.5 now.

Gloo has had integration with Istio SDS for a while now while giving the option to use SDS (more secure) or the secret mounting approach, but now with the Istio 1.5 change, we’ve updated the Gloo functionality to show how to get Gloo working with Istio 1.5.

There are two different approaches to doing this. The supported way for Gloo OSS is to load an Istio proxy (and istio-agent) to connect to the mesh and pull down the certificates and allow upstreams to use that. This requires, unfortunately, running another Envoy next to the Gloo proxy (also based on Envoy) that does nothing other than pull down certificates. This is the recommended way to accomplish integration with SDS and Istio. However, for Gloo Enterprise, we feel we can do better. We have a custom build of the istio-agent that can serve SDS for Istio without the need for running an entirely separate Envoy. This slims down the deployment of the Gloo API Gateway when integrating with Istio.

See a quick demo of integrating open-source Gloo with Istio 1.5:

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