Istio Operator

An operator that manages Istio deployments on Kubernetes
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Istio-operator is a Kubernetes operator to deploy and manage Istio resources for a Kubernetes cluster.


Istio is an open platform to connect, manage, and secure microservices and it is emerging as the standard for building service meshes on Kubernetes. It is built out on multiple components and a rather complex deployment scheme (20+ CRDs). Installing, upgrading and operating these components requires deep understanding of Istio.

The goal of the Istio-operator is to automate and simplify these and enable popular service mesh use cases (multi cluster federation, multiple gateways support, resource reconciliation, etc) by introducing easy higher level abstractions.

Istio Operator

Istio operator vs Backyards

Backyards is Banzai Cloud's production ready Istio distribution. The Banzai Cloud Istio operator is a core part of Backyards, which helps with installing, upgrading and managing an Istio mesh, but Backyards provides many other components to conveniently secure, operate and observe Istio as well.

The differences are presented in this table:

Istio operator Backyards
Install Istio ✔️ ✔️
Manage Istio ✔️ ✔️
Upgrade Istio ✔️ ✔️
Uninstall Istio ✔️ ✔️
Multi cluster support ✔️ ✔️
Multiple gateways support ✔️ ✔️
Prometheus ✔️
Grafana ✔️
Jaeger ✔️
Cert manager ✔️
Dashboard ✔️
CLI ✔️
Enhanced observability ✔️
Topology graph ✔️
Live access logs ✔️
mTLS management ✔️
Gateway management ✔️
Sidecar management ✔️
Routing ✔️
Circuit Breaking ✔️
Fault Injection ✔️
Mirroring ✔️
Canary releases ✔️
Validations ✔️

For a complete list of Backyards features please check out the features page.

Istio operator installation

The operator (release-1.8 branch) installs the 1.8.1 version of Istio, and can run on Minikube v1.1.1+ and Kubernetes 1.16.0+.

As a pre-requisite it needs a Kubernetes cluster (you can create one using Pipeline).

  1. Set KUBECONFIG pointing towards your cluster
  2. Run make deploy (deploys the operator in the istio-system namespace to the cluster)
  3. Set your Istio configurations in a Kubernetes custom resource (sample: config/samples/istio_v1beta1_istio.yaml) and run this command to deploy the Istio components:
kubectl create -n istio-system -f config/samples/istio_v1beta1_istio.yaml

Installation with Backyards

Go grab and install Istio with the Backyards CLI tool.

curl | sh && backyards istio install

Installation with Helm

Alternatively, if you just can’t let go of Helm completely, you can deploy the operator using a Helm chart, which is available in the Banzai Cloud stable Helm repo:

helm repo add banzaicloud-stable
helm install istio-operator-v17x --create-namespace --namespace=istio-system banzaicloud-stable/istio-operator

Installation with Kustomize

You can also have your own kustomization.yaml file with a reference to Istio operator as a base without the need to clone the repo. See more info in the Kustomize usage doc.


Istio upgrade

Check out the upgrade docs to see how to upgrade between minor or major Istio versions.

Multi-cluster federation

Check out the multi-cluster federation docs.


Check out the developer docs.


To remove Istio and Istio operator completely from your cluster execute the following steps:

  1. Delete the Istio configuration custom resource you have created earlier (Istio operator will take care of deleting all Istio resources from your cluster after the custom resource is deleted)
  2. Delete the istio-system namespace to delete Istio operator itself
kubectl delete -n istio-system -f config/samples/istio_v1beta1_istio.yaml
kubectl delete namespace istio-system

Issues, feature requests and roadmap

Please note that the Istio operator is constantly under development and new releases might introduce breaking changes. We are striving to keep backward compatibility as much as possible while adding new features at a fast pace. Issues, new features or bugs are tracked on the projects GitHub page - please feel free to add yours!

To track some of the significant features and future items from the roadmap, please visit the roadmap doc.


If you find this project useful here's how you can help:

  • Send a pull request with your new features and bug fixes
  • Help new users with issues they may encounter
  • Support the development of this project and star this repo!

Istio operator support

Community support

If you encounter any problems that is not addressed in our documentation, open an issue or talk to us on the Banzai Cloud Slack channel #istio-operator..

Commercial support

If you are using the Istio operator in a production environment and require commercial support, contact Banzai Cloud, the company backing the development of the Istio operator.

Engineering blog

We frequently write blog posts about Istio itself and the Istio operator. To be up-to-date with the Istio operator and the other open source and commercial products of Banzai Cloud, subscribe to our blog.


Copyright (c) 2017-2020 Banzai Cloud, Inc.

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.

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