OPA authorization

The Stackable Platform offers policy-based access control via the OpenPolicyAgent (OPA) operator. Authorization policies are defined in the Rego language, divided into packages and supplied via ConfigMaps. Every node is running an OPA instance for fast policy evaluation and products are connected to OPA with the service discovery mechanism.

What is OPA?

OPA is an open source, general purpose policy engine. It supports a high-level declarative language called Rego. Rego enables you to specify complex policies as code and transfer the decision-making processes from your software to OPA. Policies written in Rego are called Rego rules.

Policy requests are made to a REST API, which allows easy requests from microservices, Kubernetes or CI/CD pipelines. In the request the requester can supply arbitrary structured input data as JSON to supply context information to the policy decision rules. For example the name of the user, resource and action for which an authorization is requested. In this way policy decision-making and policy enforcement are decoupled.

How it works

OPA is run by the Stackable OPA operator. OPA is deployed with the OpaCluster resource, from which the operator creates a DaemonSet to run an OPA instance on every node of the cluster. Because of this, every Pod making policy requests will always make the request locally, minimizing latency and network traffic.

Define policies

OPA by itself does not enforce a specific structure of Rego rules and the packages they are in, but the Stackable platform makes some assumptions. Whenever a product is connected to OPA (see Connect a product), a single package needs to be given, and that package needs to contain specific rules depending on the product. For example for Druid, a single allow rule needs to be defined.

The Rego rule policies are supplied as ConfigMaps. Multiple ConfigMaps can be used for multiple packages, for example one package for Druid authorization, one package for a Trino development instance and one package for a Trino production instance. ConfigMaps were chosen as an easy to use method of supplying configuration files in a Kubernetes environment. The operator takes care of assembling the ConfigMaps into a policy bundle, every policy ConfigMap must contain a opa.stackable.tech/bundle label in order to be processed by the OPA operator.

Here’s an example of a Rego rule package in a ConfigMap:

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
  name: my-product-policies
    opa.stackable.tech/bundle: "my-product" (1)
  my-product.rego: |
    package my-product (2)

    import future.keywords.in

    default allow = false (3)
    allow {

    is_admin() { (4)
      input.context.identity.user == "admin"
1 The opa.stackable.tech/bundle label is needed to add this ConfigMap to the OPA policy set. Only ConfigMaps with this label are included.
2 my-product is the name of the package. Usually you will have one package per product or per product instance. The name of the package needs to be configured in product instances (i.e. a Trino or Druid instance). The product will use the policies from the configured policy package.
3 The allow rule. It is the main entry point. For every policy decision, the allow rule is always requested. In this case, the rule defaults to false. It references the is_admin rule.
4 The is_admin rule. It demonstrates the use of context information. Every policy decision request can supply context, in this case the user identity is supplied as context. Only if the user identity is "admin", the is_admin rule evaluates to true.

The combination of arbitrary input data and the Rego rules enables you to specify and enforce almost any kind of policies. You can define powerful policies for e.g. user access for database tables, schemas, columns etc. You can enforce local network traffic, access time periods and many more.

See the OPA documentation for further examples.

Connect a product

To connect a product to an OpaCluster, the name of the OpaCluster is needed as well as the name of the policy package to use with this product instance. An operator that supports OPA for its operated product will have a spec section like this:

    configMapName: simple-opa (1)
    package: my-product (2)
1 The reference to the OPA cluster
2 The name of the policy package to use for this product

The automatic connection is facilitated by the service discovery mechanism and no further information about OPA is required. The products query their respective rules via the supplied package name. See Further reading for links to specific product authorization documentation.

Further reading

Read more about the Stackable Operator for OPA (OpenPolicyAgent). Read more about product integration with OPA for these products:

You can also have a look at the implementation guidelines for OPA authorizers or learn more about the service discovery mechanism used across the platform.