Configurability [Beta/Experimental]

Istio provides the ability to configure advanced tracing options, such as sampling rate and adding custom tags to reported spans. Sampling is a beta feature, but adding custom tags and tracing tag length are considered in-development for this release.

Before you begin

  1. Ensure that your applications propagate tracing headers as described here.

  2. Follow the tracing installation guide located under Integrations based on your preferred tracing backend to install the appropriate addon and configure your Istio proxies to send traces to the tracing deployment.

Available tracing configurations

You can configure the following tracing options in Istio:

  1. Random sampling rate for percentage of requests that will be selected for trace generation.

  2. Maximum length of the request path after which the path will be truncated for reporting. This can be useful in limiting trace data storage specially if you’re collecting traces at ingress gateways.

  3. Adding custom tags in spans. These tags can be added based on static literal values, environment values or fields from request headers. This can be used to inject additional information in spans specific to your environment.

There are two ways you can configure tracing options:

  1. Globally via MeshConfig options.

  2. Per-pod annotations for workload specific customization.

Using MeshConfig for trace settings

All tracing options can be configured globally via MeshConfig. To simplify configuration, it is recommended to create a single YAML file which you can pass to the istioctl install -f command.

cat <<'EOF' > tracing.yaml
apiVersion: install.istio.io/v1alpha1
kind: IstioOperator
spec:
  meshConfig:
    defaultConfig:
      tracing:
        sampling: 10
        custom_tags:
          my_tag_header:
            header:
              name: host
EOF

Using proxy.istio.io/config annotation for trace settings

You can add the proxy.istio.io/config annotation to your Pod metadata specification to override any mesh-wide tracing settings. For instance, to modify the sleep deployment shipped with Istio you would add the following to samples/sleep/sleep.yaml:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: sleep
spec:
  ...
  template:
    metadata:
      ...
      proxy.istio.io/config: |
        tracing:
          sampling: 10
          custom_tags:
            my_tag_header:
              header:
                name: host
    spec:
      ...

Customizing Trace sampling

The sampling rate option can be used to control what percentage of requests get reported to your tracing system. This should be configured depending upon your traffic in the mesh and the amount of tracing data you want to collect. The default rate is 1%.

To modify the default random sampling to 50, add the following option to your tracing.yaml file.

apiVersion: install.istio.io/v1alpha1
kind: IstioOperator
spec:
  meshConfig:
    defaultConfig:
      tracing:
        sampling: 50

The sampling rate should be in the range of 0.0 to 100.0 with a precision of 0.01. For example, to trace 5 requests out of every 10000, use 0.05 as the value here.

Customizing tracing tags

Custom tags can be added to spans based on literals, environmental variables and client request headers in order to provide additional information in spans specific to your environment.

You can customize the tags using any of the three supported options below.

  1. Literal represents a static value that gets added to each span.

    apiVersion: install.istio.io/v1alpha1
    kind: IstioOperator
    spec:
      meshConfig:
        defaultConfig:
          tracing:
            custom_tags:
              my_tag_literal:
                literal:
                  value: <VALUE>
    
  2. Environmental variables can be used where the value of the custom tag is populated from a workload proxy environment variable.

    apiVersion: install.istio.io/v1alpha1
    kind: IstioOperator
    spec:
      meshConfig:
        defaultConfig:
          tracing:
            custom_tags:
              my_tag_env:
                environment:
                  name: <ENV_VARIABLE_NAME>
                  defaultValue: <VALUE>      # optional
    
  3. Client request header option can be used to populate tag value from an incoming client request header.

    apiVersion: install.istio.io/v1alpha1
    kind: IstioOperator
    spec:
      meshConfig:
        defaultConfig:
          tracing:
            custom_tags:
              my_tag_header:
                header:
                  name: <CLIENT-HEADER>
                  defaultValue: <VALUE>      # optional
    

Customizing tracing tag length

By default, the maximum length for the request path included as part of the HttpUrl span tag is 256. To modify this maximum length, add the following to your tracing.yaml file.

apiVersion: install.istio.io/v1alpha1
kind: IstioOperator
spec:
  meshConfig:
    defaultConfig:
      tracing:
        max_path_tag_length: <VALUE>
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