Upgrade Istio

Canary upgrades

Upgrading Istio can be done by first running a canary deployment of the new control plane, allowing you to monitor the effect of the upgrade with a small percentage of the workloads, before migrating all of the traffic to the new version. This is much safer than doing an in place upgrade and is the recommended upgrade method.

When installing Istio, the revision installation setting can be used to deploy multiple independent control planes at the same time. A canary version of an upgrade can be started by installing the new Istio version’s control plane next to the old one, using a different revision setting. Each revision is a full Istio control plane implementation with its own Deployment, Service, etc.

See additional notes for upgrading from Helm installations and upgrading from 1.4.x.

Control plane

To install a new revision called canary, you would set the revision field as follows:

$ istioctl install --set revision=canary

After running the command, you will have two control plane deployments and services running side-by-side:

$ kubectl get pods -n istio-system
NAME                                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
istiod-786779888b-p9s5n                 1/1     Running   0          114m
istiod-canary-6956db645c-vwhsk          1/1     Running   0          1m
$ kubectl -n istio-system get svc -lapp=istiod
NAME            TYPE        CLUSTER-IP    EXTERNAL-IP   PORT(S)                                                AGE
istiod          ClusterIP   <none>        15010/TCP,15012/TCP,443/TCP,15014/TCP                  33d
istiod-canary   ClusterIP    <none>        15010/TCP,15012/TCP,443/TCP,15014/TCP,53/UDP,853/TCP   12m

You will also see that there are two sidecar injector configurations including the new revision.

$ kubectl get mutatingwebhookconfigurations
NAME                            CREATED AT
istio-sidecar-injector          2020-03-26T07:09:21Z
istio-sidecar-injector-canary   2020-04-28T19:03:26Z

Data plane

Simply installing the new revision has no impact on the existing proxies. To upgrade these, you must configure them to point to the new control plane. This is controlled during sidecar injection based on the namespace label istio.io/rev.

To upgrade the namespace test-ns, add the istio.io/rev label to point to the canary revision and remove the istio-injection label.

$ kubectl label namespace test-ns istio-injection- istio.io/rev=canary

The istio-injection label must be removed because it takes precedence over the istio.io/rev label for backward compatibility.

After the namespace updates, you need to restart the pods to trigger re-injection. One way to do this is using:

$ kubectl rollout restart deployment -n test-ns

When the pods are re-injected, they will be configured to point to the istiod-canary control plane. You can verify this by looking at the pod labels.

For example, the following command will show all the pods using the canary revision:

$ kubectl get pods -n test-ns -l istio.io/rev=canary

To verify that the new pods in the test-ns namespace are using the istiod-canary service corresponding to the canary revision, select one newly created pod and use the pod_name in the following command:

$ istioctl proxy-config endpoints ${pod_name}.test-ns --cluster xds-grpc -ojson | grep hostname
"hostname": "istiod-canary.istio-system.svc"

The output confirms that the pod is using istiod-canary revision of the control plane.

Uninstall old control plane

After upgrading both the control plane and data plane, you can uninstall the old control plane. For example, the following command uninstalls a control plane of revision istio-1-6-5:

$ istioctl x uninstall --revision istio-1-6-5

Confirm that the old control plane has been removed and only the new one still exists in the cluster:

$ kubectl get pods -n istio-system -lapp=istiod
NAME                             READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
istiod-canary-55887f699c-t8bh8   1/1     Running   0          27m

Note that the above instructions only removed the resources for the specified control plane revision, but not cluster-scoped resources shared with other control planes. To uninstall Istio completely, refer to the uninstall guide.

In place upgrades

The istioctl upgrade command performs an upgrade of Istio. Before performing the upgrade, it checks that the Istio installation meets the upgrade eligibility criteria. Also, it alerts the user if it detects any changes in the profile default values between Istio versions.

The upgrade command can also perform a downgrade of Istio.

See the istioctl upgrade reference for all the options provided by the istioctl upgrade command.

Upgrade prerequisites

Ensure you meet these requirements before starting the upgrade process:

Upgrade steps

The commands in this section should be run using the new version of istioctl which can be found in the bin/ subdirectory of the downloaded package.

  1. Download the new Istio release and change directory to the new release directory.

  2. Verify that istoctl supports upgrading from your current Istio version by viewing the supported versions list:

    $ istioctl manifest versions
  3. Ensure that your Kubernetes configuration points to the cluster to upgrade:

    $ kubectl config view
  4. Begin the upgrade by running this command:

    $ istioctl upgrade -f `<your-custom-configuration-file>`

    <your-custom-configuration-file> is the IstioOperator API Configuration file you used to customize the installation of the currently-running version of Istio.

    istioctl upgrade does not support the --set flag. Therefore, if you installed Istio using the --set command, create a configuration file with the equivalent configuration options and pass it to the istioctl upgrade command using the -f flag instead.

    If you omit the -f flag, Istio upgrades using the default profile.

    After performing several checks, istioctl will ask you to confirm whether to proceed.

  5. istioctl will install the new version of Istio control plane and indicate the completion status.

  6. After istioctl completes the upgrade, you must manually update the Istio data plane by restarting any pods with Istio sidecars:

    $ kubectl rollout restart deployment

Downgrade prerequisites

Ensure you meet these requirements before starting the downgrade process:

  • Istio version 1.5 or higher is installed.

  • Your Istio installation was installed using istioctl.

  • Downgrade must be done using the istioctl binary version that corresponds to the Istio version that you intend to downgrade to. For example, if you are downgrading from Istio 1.5 to 1.4.4, use istioctl version 1.4.4.

Steps to downgrade to a lower Istio version

You can use istioctl experimental upgrade to downgrade to a lower version of Istio. Please notice that you need to use the istioctl binary corresponding to the lower version (e.g., 1.4.4), and upgrade is experimental in 1.4. The process steps are identical to the upgrade process mentioned in the previous section. When completed, the process will restore Istio back to the Istio version that was installed before.

istioctl install also installs the same Istio control plane, but does not perform any checks. For example, default values applied to the cluster for a configuration profile may change without warning.

Upgrading from Helm installations

For Istio installations done with Helm, the canary upgrade process must be used. The canary control plane must be installed with an IstioOperator CR equivalent to the Helm values.yaml used to install Istio. The istioctl manifest migrate command (using istioctl 1.6) simplifies the migration by automatically translating values.yaml to IstioOperator CR format. To install the canary control plane, first generate an IstioOperator CR:

$ istioctl manifest migrate <path-to-values.yaml> > iop.yaml

Inspect the generated iop.yaml file to ensure it’s correct. You can use this CR to install a 1.6 Istio canary control plane with the same settings as the Helm installed control plane.

Upgrading from 1.4

Migrating from 1.4 Istio (installed with istioctl or Helm) is similar to the process for 1.5 using canary, with one additional step. Istio 1.4 validation does not recognize some 1.6 resources, and the 1.4 validation webhook prevents Istio 1.6 from functioning correctly. To work around this problem, the validation webhook must be disabled temporarily, using the following steps.

  1. Edit the Galley deployment configuration using the following command:
$ kubectl edit deployment -n istio-system istio-galley

Add the –enable-validation=false option to the command: section as shown below:

apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Deployment
      - command:
        - --log_output_level=default:info
        - --enable-validation=false

Save and quit the editor to update the deployment configuration in the cluster.

  1. Remove the ValidatingWebhookConfiguration Custom Resource (CR) with the following command:
$ kubectl delete ValidatingWebhookConfiguration istio-galley -n istio-system
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