Orchestration authorization model

Orchestration authorization model

The Orchestration authorization model defines the authorization process for requests during deferred operations. A common example is an auto-scaling group update. During the auto-scaling update operation, the Orchestration service requests resources of other components (such as servers from Compute or networks from Networking) to extend or reduce the capacity of an auto-scaling group.

The Orchestration service provides the following authorization models:

  • Password authorization
  • OpenStack Identity trusts authorization

Password authorization

The Orchestration service supports password authorization. Password authorization requires that a user pass a username and password to the Orchestration service. Encrypted password are stored in the database, and used for deferred operations.

Password authorization involves the following steps:

  1. A user requests stack creation, by providing a token and username and password. The Dashboard or python-heatclient requests the token on the user’s behalf.
  2. If the stack contains any resources that require deferred operations, then the orchestration engine fails its validation checks if the user did not provide a valid username/password.
  3. The username/password are encrypted and stored in the Orchestration database.
  4. Orchestration creates a stack.
  5. Later, the Orchestration service retrieves the credentials and requests another token on behalf of the user. The token is not limited in scope and provides access to all the roles of the stack owner.

OpenStack Identity trusts authorization

A trust is an OpenStack Identity extension that enables delegation, and optionally impersonation through the OpenStack Identity service. The key terminology is trustor (the user delegating) and trustee (the user being delegated to).

To create a trust, the trustor (in this case, the user creating the stack in the Orchestration service) provides the OpenStack Identity service with the following information:

  • The ID of the trustee (who you want to delegate to, in this case, the Orchestration service user).
  • The roles to be delegated. Configure roles through the heat.conf file. Ensure the configuration contains whatever roles are required to perform the deferred operations on the user’s behalf. For example, launching an OpenStack Compute instance in response to an auto-scaling event.
  • Whether to enable impersonation.

The OpenStack Identity service provides a trust ID, which is consumed by only the trustee to obtain a trust scoped token. This token is limited in scope, such that the trustee has limited access to those roles delegated. In addition, the trustee has effective impersonation of the trustor user if it was selected when creating the trust. For more information, see Identity management.

Trusts authorization involves the following steps:

  1. A user creates a stack through an API request (only the token is required).
  2. The Orchestration service uses the token to create a trust between the stack owner (trustor) and the Orchestration service user (trustee). The service delegates a special role (or roles) as defined in the trusts_delegated_roles list in the Orchestration configuration file. By default, the Orchestration service sets all the roles from trustor available for trustee. Deployers might modify this list to reflect a local RBAC policy. For example, to ensure that the heat process can access only those services that are expected while impersonating a stack owner.
  3. Orchestration stores the encrypted trust ID in the Orchestration database.
  4. When a deferred operation is required, the Orchestration service retrieves the trust ID and requests a trust scoped token which enables the service user to impersonate the stack owner during the deferred operation. Impersonation is helpful, for example, so the service user can launch Compute instances on behalf of the stack owner in response to an auto-scaling event.

Authorization model configuration

Initially, the password authorization model was the default authorization model. Since the Kilo release, the Identity trusts authorization model is enabled for the Orchestration service by default.

To enable the password authorization model, change the following parameter in the heat.conf file:


To enable the trusts authorization model, change the following two parameters in the heat.conf file.

Specify the authentication method for the deferred Orchestration actions. This parameter triggers creating trust ID and stores it in the Orchestration database:


Allow reauthentication with the trust scoped token issued by using the stored trust ID for long running tasks:


To specify the trustor roles that it delegates to trustee during authorization, specify the trusts_delegated_roles parameter in the heat.conf file. If trusts_delegated_roles is not defined, then all the trustor roles are delegated to trustee.


The trustor delegated roles must be pre-configured in the OpenStack Identity service before using them in the Orchestration service.

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