Project post originally on the Istio blog by Faseela K, for the Istio Day Programme Committee

A quick recap of Istio at KubeCon North America, at the McCormick Place in Chicago

The open source and cloud native community gathered from the 6th to the 9th of November in Chicago for the final KubeCon of 2023. The four-day conference, organized by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, was “twice the fun” for Istio, as we grew from a half-day event in Europe in April to a full day co-located event. To add to the excitement, Istio Day North America marked our first event as a CNCF graduated project.

With Istio Day NA over, that’s a wrap for our major community events for 2023. In case you missed them, Istio Day Europe was held in April, and alongside our Virtual IstioCon 2023 event, IstioCon China 2023 was held on September 26 in Shanghai, China.

Istio Day North America 2023 sign say "Thank you to our sponsor" Platinum - Google Cloud

Istio Day kicked off with an opening keynote from the Program Committee chairs, Faseela K and Zack Butcher. The keynote made sure to recognize the day-to-day efforts of our contributors, maintainers, release managers, and users, with some awards for our top contributors and community helpers. Rob Salmond and Andrea Ma were recognized for their selfless efforts in the Istio community, and the top 20 contributors in the last 6 months were also called out.

Top 20 contributors who were in attendance were asked to come onto the stage

The opening keynote also announced the availability of the Istio Certified Associate (ICA) exam for enrollment starting November 6th.

Istio Certified Associate (ICA): enroll now!

We were also proud to showcase a small video of many of our contributors, vendors and end-users congratulating us for the CNCF graduation!

The keynote was followed by an end user talk by Kush Trivedi and Khushboo Mittal from DevRev about their usage of Istio. We had a much-awaited session on architecting ambient for scale from John Howard, which stirred some interesting discussions in the community. We also had an interesting talk showcasing the collaboration between Lilt and Intel about Scaling AI powered translation services using Istio.

After this we stepped into another end user talk from Intuit where Karim Lakhani explained about Intuit’s modern SaaS platform deploying multiple cloud native projects including Istio. The audience was excited when Mitch Connors and Christian Hernandez did a live demo of upgrading Istio ambient mesh with Argo on a live public site, with a publicly accessible availability monitor.

Jam-packed sessions at Istio Day

The event witnessed more focus on security in subsequent talks with Jackie Elliot from Microsoft taking a dig into Istio Identity, followed by a lightning talk from Kush Mansing from Speedscale showing the impacts of running services with arbitrary code on Istio. We also had a lightning talk from Xiangfeng Zhu, a PhD student at the University of Washington, where he showcased a tool developed to analyze and predict the performance overhead of Istio.

The talk from the Kiali maintainers Jay Shaughnessy and Nick Fox, was very interesting, as it demonstrated many advanced ways of using Kiali for better debugging of Istio use cases. Ekansh Gupta from Zeta, and Nirupama Singh from Reskill pitched in another end user talk explaining the best practices while upgrading Istio in their production deployments.

Istio multi-cluster is always a hot topic, and Lukonde Mwila and Ovidiu from AWS nailed it in the talk on bridging trust between multi-cluster meshes.

We also had an interactive panel discussion with the Istio TOC Members, where a lot of questions came in from the audience, and the good attendance for the discussion was a testament to the continued popularity of Istio. Istio Day concluded with a brilliant workshop on getting started with ambient mesh from Christian Posta and Jim Barton from, which is the hot topic all of the audience were looking forward to.

The slides for all the sessions can be found in the Istio Day NA 2023 schedule.

Kush Trivedi and Khushboo Mittal from DevRev on stage

Our presence at the conference did not end with Istio Day. The first day keynote of KubeCon + CloudNativeCon started with a project update video from Mitch Connors. It was also a proud moment for us, when two of our contributors, Lin Sun and Faseela K, took home the prestigious CNCF community “Chop Wood Carry Water” award, presented by Chris Aniszczyk, CTO CNCF, at the second day keynote.

Chop Wood Carry Water winners, Faseela K and Lin Sun (second and third from left)

Some of our maintainers and contributors made it to the CNCF Fall 2023 Ambassadors list as well, Lin Sun, Mitch Connors, and Faseela K, to name a few.

The CNCF Ambassador group photo. Many Istio maintainers are in this picture!

The KubeCon maintainer track session for Istio, presented by TOC members John Howard and Louis Ryan, grabbed great attention as they talked about the current ongoing efforts and future roadmap of Istio. The technologies described in the talk, and the resulting size of the audience, underlined why Istio continues to be the most popular service mesh in the industry.

The Istio maintainer track session at KubeCon NA 2023

The Contribfest Hands-on Development and Contribution Workshop by Lin Sun, Eric Van Norman, Steven Landow, and Faseela K was also well received. It was great to see so many people interested in contributing to Istio and pushing their first pull request at the end of the workshop.

The Contribfest Istio Workshop at KubeCon NA 2023

A much-awaited panel discussion on Service Mesh Battle Scars: Technology, Timing and Tradeoffs, led by the maintainers from three CNCF Service Mesh projects, had a huge crowd in attendance, and a lot of interesting discussions.

The Service Mesh Battle Scars panel at KubeCon NA 2023

Istio came up as a hot topic of discussion in several other KubeCon talks as well. Here are a few we noticed:

Istio had a kiosk in the project pavilion, with the majority of questions asked being around the schedule for ambient mesh being production ready.

Discussions at the Istio kiosk

We are glad that the major question which we had at the Istio kiosk in Europe — the schedule for CNCF graduation — has been answered, and we assured everyone that we are working on ambient mesh with the same level of seriousness.

Many of our members and maintainers offered support at our kiosk, helping us answer all the questions from our users.

Members and maintainers at the Istio kiosk

Another highlight of our kiosk was that we had new Istio T-shirts sponsored by Microsoft,, Stackgenie and Tetrate for everyone to grab!

A new crop of Istio T-shirts

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our platinum sponsors Google Cloud, for supporting Istio Day North America! Last but not least, we would like to thank our Istio Day Program Committee members, for all their hard work and support!

See you in Paris in March 2024!

Banner announced CFP's are open for 024 CNCF-Hosted Co-Located Events on 19 March 2024, Paris, France.Istio Day Europe, 19 March 2024, Paris, France #IstioDay