Policy Deprecation


Several OpenStack projects have moved their policies into code and treat them like configuration. This has numerous benefits for both developers and operators. Moving policy into code and documenting it is targeted as a community-wide goal for the Queens release.

Problem description

Policy management in OpenStack has always been a source of operator and developer pain. It’s hard for operators to know what policies were changed or added across releases without manually diffing policy files. Developers are unable to programmatically communicate changes to policy files for their users.

Now that projects will be moving policies into code, we have the opportunity to use oslo.policy to advertise deprecations and future removal of policies. This gives developers a programmatic way to make much needed changes to policy and communicate those changes to operators in a way they already know how to consume. This is consistent with how we deprecate other things in OpenStack, like configuration options.

Use Cases

The following list describes the cases that need to be covered by the deprecation functionality in oslo.policy:

  • Changing the semantics of a policy in a backwards incompatible way
  • Renaming a policy
  • Removal of a policy in a backwards incompatible way but with a transition plan

These can be explained further in actual use cases and examples:

  1. As a developer, I need to be able to change the default role or rule for a policy using oslo.policy
  2. As a developer, I need to be able to rename a policy using oslo.policy
  3. As an operator, I need to know if a policy’s default role or rule is changing so I can either copy-paste the old policy into my policy file or create the role required by the new default
  4. As an operator, I need to know if a policy that I’m overriding is going to be renamed or removed so that APIs in my deployment aren’t accidentally unprotected or exposed in an insecure way

Example 1

The policy, "foo:create_bar": "role:fizz", needs to change its policy value to "role:bang". An operator can do one of two things when upgrading. The first option is to copy-paste the original policy into the policy file and override the new default for foo:create_bar. The second option is for the operator to create role bang in their deployment so that the new default is useable after the upgrade. The same process can be applied to rule evaluations in-place of role.

Example 2

The policy, "foo:post_bar": "role:fizz", should be replaced with "foo:create_bar": "role:fizz" to be consistent with other policies used by the service. So long as the role or rule check remains consistent there should be no operator impact to operators using the default. The newer version of the service will start using create_bar for policy enforcement, phasing out the usage of post_bar.

If an operator is overriding the policy for post_bar, a message should be logged saying that post_bar is no longer going to be an enforcible policy and that create_bar should be used instead. This will give operators a chance to fix their policy before post_bar goes away completely. This ensures that operators don’t accidentally expose create_bar if they are using a custom policy to protect it.

Example 3

The policy, "foo:bar": "role:bazz", should be broken into:

  • "foo:get_bar": "role:bazz"
  • "foo:list_bars": "role:bazz"
  • "foo:create_bar": "role:bazz"
  • "foo:update_bar": "role:bazz"
  • "foo:delete_bar": "role:bazz"

This gives developers or operators the ability to associate different roles to different operations of bar instances, instead of all operations on bar requiring the bazz role.

Proposed change

The oslo.policy library exposes a DocumentedRuleDefault object that policies are registered as. We can extend this object to support an optional deprecated attribute, or set of attributes that communicate information about the deprecation. This won’t require projects to change their current policy definitions or implementations. The following are the attributes that would be useful to expose to projects so they can improve policy:

  • deprecated_for_removal: This is a boolean values that denotes if the policy is deprecated or not
  • deprecated_reason: This is a string containing justification for the removal or deprecation of the policy
  • deprecated_since: The release in which the policy was officially deprecated

These additional attributes should be very similar, if not the same as the deprecated functionality of oslo.config. This change will likely be limited to the oslo.policy library, specifically the DocumentedRuleDefault object.

Policies that are flagged for deprecation will emit log warnings similar to using a deprecated configuration option. Likewise, deprecated policies will be marked as such in generated sample policy files.


Developers can continue to rely on release notes and mailing lists to communicate policy changes to operators. This is considered suboptimal since it is prone to human error, lacks consistency across projects, and isn’t programmable. As a result, policies are rarely changed from their original definitions, which is very problematic since policies never evolve with the project.

This is really the only alternative we have today, but since it doesn’t really help improve policy it could be argued as not an alternative at all.

Impact on Existing APIs

The API for DocumentedRuleDefault or RuleDefault will be improved to support communicating deprecated policies.

Security impact

Projects consuming this change can use it to improve security by offering more secure default rules.

Performance Impact


Configuration Impact

No new configuration options should be required to consume or leverage this functionality. This should be available for projects to use once they have a version of oslo.policy that supports deprecated information in DocumentedRuleDefault.

Developer Impact

Developers will not be impacted unless they are looking to improve or modify policies for their project. If that is the case, they can use the new functionality to describe the reason for the deprecation, when it will be removed, and what is replacing it.

Testing Impact

We need to ensure that deprecated policies emit some sort of warning when they are invoked. This can likely be done in oslo.policy’s tests, but it can also be done in project consuming the tests as well. One thing to discuss might be adding a criteria that requires a unit test for deprecating a policy.



Primary assignee:
Lance Bragstad <lbragstad@gmail.com> lbragstad
Other contributors:


Target Milestone for completion: queens-1

Making this available early in the Queens release will allow projects to deprecate policies before Queens is released.

Work Items

  • Implement deprecated functionality in RuleDefault or DocumentedRuleDefault objects

Documentation Impact

It is likely that many projects will use this functionality to deprecate and improve their existing policies. The usage of these deprecated flags should be well documented.






This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode