Deploy to an Istio Service Mesh

Deploy to an Istio Service Mesh


It is possible to add extended infrastructure behavior to a Kubernetes cluster by incorporating a service mesh. For some use cases, this can help to further separate infrastructure concerns from application code. In this architecture, multi-container pods are used, consisting of both the application and a sidecar. Applications that use sidecars route all requests to other components via the sidecar. Most real-world service meshes contain a mix of some components that use sidecars and others that do not:


Sidecars can handle aspects such as retrying requests when there are temporary network failures. They can also implement TLS or Mutual TLS on behalf of the application, though this will not usually provide a complete security solution. The service mesh provides additional building blocks that can be used, and there may be both pros and cons to integrating one.

This tutorial demonstrates deploying the Curity Identity Server to an Istio service mesh. This enables applications that use sidecars to call OAuth endpoints in the standard way. The Curity Identity Server itself is a specialist security component though, and manages its own security, so does not support hosting sidecars in its own pods.

Tutorial Resources

Start by cloning the GitHub repository, which contains a number of resources, with helper scripts to quickly spin up a deployment. The demo system's behavior is almost identical to the Kubernetes Local Installation, so this tutorial only describes the differences in behavior when running in a service mesh.

Tutorial resources


To deploy the system, first ensure that the following prerequisites are installed:

Also, copy a license file for the Curity Identity Server into the idsvr folder of the tutorial resources.

Deploy the System

The deployed system will use the following base URLs:

Base URLDescription
https://login.curity.localThe URL for the Identity Server, which users see when login screens are presented
https://admin.curity.localAn internal URL for the Curity Identity Server Admin UI

Run the following scripts in this sequence to trigger the cluster creation and then deploy the Curity Identity Server's components, including ingress resources and certificates for external HTTPS URLs. You may then need to wait for a couple of minutes until the system is ready.


Next, add the host names for the Curity Identity Server to the local hosts file:  login.curity.local admin.curity.local

Also, trust the self-signed root authority that is created for the demo system's SSL certificates. Add the file certs/ to the host operating system's trust store.

Later, once you are finished with the demo installation, you can free all resources by running the following script:


Deployment Details

KIND is a Kubernetes cluster for development, which has convenient features for running multi-node clusters locally. This section highlights some technical details specific to KIND and Istio, including the use of Istio specific custom resource definitions (CRDs).

Nodes and Containers

First, view the multiple nodes that have been created, each of which represents a virtual machine that hosts pods:

kubectl get node

The demo installation uses a KIND cluster named curity, and creates two worker nodes to host application containers:

NAME                   STATUS   ROLES           AGE   VERSION
curity-control-plane   Ready    control-plane   27m   v1.24.0
curity-worker          Ready    <none>          27m   v1.24.0
curity-worker2         Ready    <none>          27m   v1.24.0

To view details of the deployed instances of the Curity Identity Server, run this command:

kubectl get pod -o wide

This shows how pods for the Curity Identity Server are distributed across the nodes:

NAME                                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE   IP           NODE          
curity-idsvr-admin-7b8596f4b6-jh6c7     1/1     Running   0          28m   curity-worker 
curity-idsvr-runtime-7f85c6b8df-4652m   1/1     Running   0          28m   curity-worker2
curity-idsvr-runtime-7f85c6b8df-lh6qw   1/1     Running   0          28m   curity-worker 
postgres-8cb58c56f-ftz9t                1/1     Running   0          29m   curity-worker2

Istio Resources

When the script is run, an Istio installation script is also downloaded. The script is then executed to install Istio components for a demo setup:

curl -L | sh -
cd istio*
./bin/istioctl install --set profile=demo -y

To view Istio specific resources that have been deployed, run the following command:

kubectl get pod -n istio-system

Istio is deployed with its own ingress and egress gateways for inbound and outbound traffic to the cluster. Both the gateways and sidecars use the Envoy Proxy for traffic routing.

NAME                                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
istio-egressgateway-666cdd84d7-t2x5s    1/1     Running   0          34m
istio-ingressgateway-56f8485977-qmgnv   1/1     Running   0          33m
istiod-dfb7f5d4f-5zdxs                  1/1     Running   0          35m


The Curity Identity Server URLs are exposed over HTTPS URLs using the Istio ingress gateway. This uses Istio custom resource definitions for Gateway, VirtualService and DestinationRule:

kind: VirtualService
  name: curity-idsvr-admin-virtual-service
  - admin.curity.local
  - curity-idsvr-gateway
  - route:
    - destination:
        host: curity-idsvr-admin-svc
          number: 6749
kind: DestinationRule
  name: curity-idsvr-runtime-virtual-service
  host: curity-idsvr-runtime-svc
      mode: SIMPLE

The demo deployment uses some KIND specific patches to expose the ingress to the development computer. This step is not required in a real Kubernetes cluster, such as when deploying to a cloud platform.

Use the System

Once the system is deployed, with DNS and certificate trust configured, you can access the Curity Identity Server via the following URLs, in the same way as the Kubernetes demo installation:

Admin UIhttps://admin.curity.local/admin
OpenID Connect Metadatahttps://login.curity.local/oauth/v2/oauth-anonymous/.well-known/openid-configuration
Hypermedia Web Code Examplehttps://login.curity.local/demo-client.html
SCIM Endpointhttps://login.curity.local/user-management/admin/Users

Deploy an API with a Sidecar

You can then deploy applications that interact with the Curity Identity Server. The following commands deploy one of the Istio sample resources to a namespace for which sidecars are enabled:

kubectl create namespace applications
kubectl label namespace applications istio-injection=enabled
kubectl -n applications apply -f resources/istio*/samples/httpbin/httpbin-nodeport.yaml

Once the pod is up you can describe it to see information about both the application container and its sidecar:

HTTPBIN_CONTAINER_ID="$(kubectl -n applications get pod -o name)"
kubectl -n applications describe $HTTPBIN_CONTAINER_ID

Next, get a shell to the application container:

kubectl -n applications exec -it $HTTPBIN_CONTAINER_ID -- bash

Then run the following commands to call from the application to the Curity Identity Server via the sidecar:

apt-get update
apt-get install curl -y
curl -k https://curity-idsvr-runtime-svc.curity.svc.cluster.local:8443/oauth/v2/oauth-anonymous/jwks

This successfully returns the JSON Web Keyset (JWKS) containing token signing public keys. In a real setup the response would be used by APIs to validate JWT access tokens.


This tutorial showed how the Curity Identity Server can be deployed to a service mesh. A basic development cluster was used, though the same principles would apply to a real-world deployment. Applications that use sidecars can then interact with the OAuth endpoints of the Curity Identity Server.