Grafana Tempo

This page describes how to configure Grafana Tempo for Kiali.

Grafana Tempo Configuration

There are two possibilities to integrate Kiali with Grafana Tempo:

  • Using the Grafana Tempo API: This option returns the traces from the Tempo API in OpenTelemetry format.
  • Using the Jaeger frontend with the Grafana Tempo backend.

Using the Grafana Tempo API

This is a configuration example to setup Kiali tracing with Grafana Tempo:

      # Enabled by default. Kiali will anyway fallback to disabled if
      # Tempo is unreachable.
      enabled: true
      # Tempo service name is "query-frontend" and is in the "tempo" namespace.
      # Make sure the URL you provide corresponds to the non-GRPC enabled endpoint
      # It does not support grpc yet, so make sure "use_grpc" is set to false.
      in_cluster_url: "http://query-frontend.tempo:3200"
      provider: "tempo"
      use_grpc: false
      # Public facing URL of Grafana 
      url: "http://my-tempo-host:3200"

The default UI for Grafana Tempo is Grafana, so we should also set the Grafana url in the configuration:

      in_cluster_url: http://grafana.istio-system:3000
      url: http://my-grafana-host

We also need to set up a default Tempo datasource in Grafana.

Kiali grafana_tempo

The Traces tab will show your traces in a bubble chart:

Kiali grafana_tempo

Increasing performance is achievable by enabling gRPC access, specifically for query searches. However, accessing the HTTP API will still be necessary to gather information about individual traces. This is an example to configure the gRPC access:

      enabled: true
      # grpc port defaults to 9095
      grpc_port: 9095 
      in_cluster_url: "http://query-frontend.tempo:3200"
      provider: "tempo"
      use_grpc: true
      url: "http://my-tempo-host:3200"

Using the Jaeger frontend with Grafana Tempo tracing backend

It is possible to use the Grafana Tempo tracing backend exposing the Jaeger API. tempo-query is a Jaeger storage plugin. It accepts the full Jaeger query API and translates these requests into Tempo queries.

Since Tempo is not yet part of the built-in addons that are part of Istio, you need to manage your Tempo instance.


The official Grafana Tempo documentation explains how to deploy a Tempo instance using Tanka. You will need to tweak the settings from the default Tanka configuration to:

  • Expose the Zipkin collector
  • Expose the GRPC Jaeger Query port

When the Tempo instance is deployed with the needed configurations, you have to set meshConfig.defaultConfig.tracing.zipkin.address from Istio to the Tempo Distributor service and the Zipkin port. Tanka will deploy the service in distributor.tempo.svc.cluster.local:9411.

The in_cluster_url Kiali option needs to be set to' http://query-frontend.tempo.svc.cluster.local:16685.

Tempo Operator

The Tempo Operator for Kubernetes provides a native Kubernetes solution to deploy Tempo easily in your system.

After installing the Tempo Operator in your cluster, you can create a new Tempo instance with the following CR:

kubectl create namespace tempo
kubectl apply -n tempo -f - <<EOF
kind: TempoStack
  name: smm
  storageSize: 1Gi
      type: s3
      name: object-storage
        memory: 2Gi
        cpu: 2000m
        enabled: true
          type: ingress

Note the name of the bucket where the traces will be stored in our example is called object-storage. Check the Tempo Operator documentation to know more about what storages are supported and how to create the secret properly to provide it to your Tempo instance.

Now, you are ready to configure the meshConfig.defaultConfig.tracing.zipkin.address field in your Istio installation. It needs to be set to the 9411 port of the Tempo Distributor service. For the previous example, this value will be tempo-smm-distributor.tempo.svc.cluster.local:9411.

Now, you need to configure the in_cluster_url setting from Kiali to access the Jaeger API. You can point to the 16685 port to use GRPC or 16686 if not. For the given example, the value would be http://tempo-ssm-query-frontend.tempo.svc.cluster.local:16685.

There is a related tutorial with detailed instructions to setup Kiali and Grafana Tempo with the Operator.

Last modified December 5, 2023 : Update Distributed Tracing docs (#727) (28220ea)