Integrating Istio with BWCE Applications


Services Mesh is one the “greatest new thing” in our PaaS environments. No matter if you’re working with K8S, Docker Swarm, pure-cloud with EKS or AWS, you’ve heard and probably tried to know how can be used this new thing that has so many advantages because it provides a lot of options in handling communication between components without impacting the logic of the components. And if you’ve heard from Service Mesh, you’ve heard from Istio as well, because this is the “flagship option” at the moment, even when other options like Linkerd or AWS App Mesh are also a great option, Istio is the most used Service Mesh at the moment.

You probably have seen some examples about how to integrate Istio with your open source based developments, but what happens if you have a lot of BWCE or BusinessWorks applications… can you use all this power? Or are you going to be banned for this new world?

Do not panic! This article is going to show you how easy you can use Istio with your BWCE application inside a K8S cluster. So, let the match…. BEGIN!


The scenario that we’re going to test is quite simple. It’s a simple consumer provider approach. We’re going to use a simple Web Service SOAP/HTTP exposed by a backend to show that this can work not only with fancy REST API but even with any HTTP traffic that we could generate at the BWCE Application level.

So, we are going to invoke a service that is going to request a response from its provider and give us the response. That’s pretty easy to set up using pure BWCE without anything else.

All code related to this example is available for you in the following GitHub repo: Go get the code!


Step 1 Install Istio inside your Kubernetes Cluster

In my case I’m using Kubernetes cluster inside my Docker Desktop installation so you can do the same or use your real Kubernetes cluster, that’s up to you. The first step anyway is to install istio. And to do that, nothing better than following the steps given at isito-workshop that you can find here: (UPDATE: No longer available)

Once you’ve finished we’re going to get the following scenario in our kubernetes cluster, so please, check that the result is the same with the following commands:

kubectl get pods -n istio-system

You should see that all pods are Running as you can see in the picture below:

kubectl -n istio-system get deployment -listio=sidecar-injector

You should see that there is one instance (CURRENT = 1) available.

kubectl get namespace -L istio-injection

You should see that ISTIO-INJECTION is enabled for the default namespace as the image shown below:

Step 2 Build BWCE Applications

Now, as we have all the infrastructure needed at the Istio level we can start building our application and to do that we don’t have to do anything different in our BWCE application. Eventually, they’re going to be two application that talks using HTTP as protocol, so nothing specific.

This is something important because when we usually talk about Service Mesh and Istio with customers, the same question always arises: Is Istio supported in BWCE? Can we use Istio as a protocol to communicate our BWCE application? So, they expect that it should exist some palette or some custom plugin they should install to support Istio. But none of that is needed at the application level. And that applies not only to BWCE but also to any other technology like Flogo or even open source technologies because at the end Istio (and Envoy is the other part needed in this technology that we usually avoid talking about when we talk about Istio) works in a Proxy mode using one of the most usual patterns in containers that is the “sidecar pattern”.

So, the technology that is exposing and implementing or consuming the service knows nothing about all this “magic” that is being executed in the middle of this communication process.

We’re going to define the following properties as environment variables like we’ll do in case we’re not using Istio:

Provider application:

  • PROVIDER_PORT → Port where the provider is going to listen for incoming requests.

Consumer application:

  • PROVIDER_PORT → Port where the provider host will be listening to.
  • PROVIDER_HOST → Host or FQDN (aka K8S service name) where provider service will be exposed.
  • CONSUMER_PORT → Port where the consumer service is going to listen for incoming requests.

So, as you can see if you check that the code of the BWCE application we don’t need to do anything special to support Istio in our BWCE applications.

NOTE: There is only an important topic that is not related to the Istio integration but how BWCE populates the property BW.CLOUD.HOST that is never translated to loopback interface or even So it’s better that you change that variable for a custom one or to use localhost or to listen in the loopback interface because is where the Istio proxy is going to send the requests.

After that we’re going to create our Dockerfiles for these services without anything, in particular, something similar to what you can see here:

NOTE: As a prerequisite, we’re using BWCE Base Docker Image named as bwce_base.2.4.3 that corresponds to version 2.4.3 of BusinessWorks Container Edition.

And now we build our docker images in our repository as you can see in the following picture:

Step 3: Deploy the BWCE Applications

Now, when all the images are being created we need to generate the artifacts needed to deploy these applications in our Cluster. Once again in this case nothing special neither in our YAML file, as you can see in the picture below we’re going to define a K8S service and a K8S deployment based on the imaged we’ve created in the previous step:

A similar thing happens with consumer deployment as well as you can see in the image below:

And we can deploy them in our K8S cluster with the following commands:

kubectl apply -f kube/provider.yaml

kubectl apply -f kube/consumer.yaml

Now, you should see the following components deployed. Only to fulfill all the components needed in our structure we’re going to create an ingress to make possible to execute requests from outside the cluster to those components and to do that we’re going to use the following yaml file:

kubectl apply -f kube/ingress.yaml

And now, after doing that, we’re going to invoke the service inside our SOAPUI project and we should get the following response:

Step 4 — Recap what we’ve just done

Ok, it’s working and you think… mmmm I can get this working without Istio and I don’t know if Istio is still doing anything or not…

Ok, you’re right, this could not be so great as you were expected, but, trust me, we’re just going step by step… Let’s see what’s really happening instead of a simple request from outside the cluster to the consumer service and that request being forwarded to the backend, what’s happening is a little bit more complex. Let’s take a look at the image below:

Incoming request from the outside is being handled by an Ingress Envoy Controller that is going to execute all rules defined to choose which service should handle the request, in our case the only consumer-v1 component is going to do it, and the same thing happens in the communication between consumer and provider.

So, we’re getting some interceptors in the middle that COULD apply the logic that is going to help us to route traffic between our components with the deployment of rules at runtime level without changing the application, and that is the MAGIC.

Step 5 — Implement Canary Release

Ok, now let’s apply some of this magic to our case. One of the most usual patterns that we usually apply when we’re rolling out an update in some of our services is the canary approach. Only to do a quick explanation or what this is:

Canary release is a technique to reduce the risk of introducing a new software version in production by slowly rolling out the change to a small subset of users before rolling it out to the entire infrastructure and making it available to everybody.

If you want to read more about this you can take a look at the full article in Martin Fowler’s blog.

So, now we’re going to generate a small change in our provider application, that is going to change the response to be sure that we’re targeting version two, as you can see in the image below:

Now, we are going to build this application and generate the new image called provider:v2.

But before we’re going to deploy it using the YAML file called provider-v2.yaml we’re going to set a rule in our Istio Service Mesh that all traffic should be targeted to v1 even when others are applied. To do that we’re going to deploy the file called default.yaml that has the following content:

So, in this case, what we’re saying to Istio is that even if there are other components registered to the service, it should reply always the v1, so we can now deploy the v2 without any issue because it is not going to reply to any traffic until we decide to do so. So, now we can deploy the v2 with the following command:

kubectl apply -f provider-v2.yaml

And even when we execute the SOAPUI request we’re still getting a v1 reply even if we check in the K8S service configuration that the v2 is still bounded to that service.

Ok, now we’re going to start doing the release and we’re going to start with 10% to the new version and 90% of the requests to the old one, and to do that we’re going to deploy the rule canary.yaml using the following command:

kubectl apply -f canary.yaml

Where canary.yaml has the content shown below:

And now when we try enough times we’re going to get that most of the requests (90% approx) is going to reply v1 and only for 10% is going to reply from my new version:

Now, we can monitor how v2 is performing without affecting all customers and if everything goes as expected we can continue increasing that percentage until all customers are being replied by v2.

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Alexandre Vazquez: