Updating authentication to use keystone sessions

Updating authentication to use keystone sessions


Sahara currently uses per access authentication when creating OpenStack clients. This style of authentication requires keystone connections on every client creation. The keystone project has created a mechanism to streamline and improve this process in the form of Session objects. These objects encapsulate mechanisms for updating authentication tokens, caching of connections, and a single point for security improvements. Sahara should migrate its OpenStack client objects to use session objects for all clients.

Problem description

For all OpenStack client instances, sahara uses authentication on a per-client creation basis. For each client object that is requested, a set of credentials are acquired from the context, or the configuration file in the case of admin accounts, which are used to initialize the client object. During this initialization a request is made to the Identity service to determine the user’s privileges with respect to the new client.

Sahara must be aware of any changes to the authentication methods for each client as well as any potential security vulnerabilities resulting from the usage of those methods.

This method of authentication does not allow sahara to share any information between clients, aside from the raw credentials. In turn, this introduces brittleness to the sahara/client interface as each authentication relationship must be maintained separately or, worse yet, with a partial shared model.

Having separate interfaces for each client also makes applying security updates more difficult as each client instance must be visited, researched, and ultimately fixed according the specific details for that client.

Although this methodology has served sahara well thus far, the keystone project has introduced new layers of abstraction to aid in sharing common authentication between clients. This shared methodology, the keystoneclient Session object, provides a unified point of authentication for all clients. It serves as a single point to contain security updates, on-demand authentication token updating, common authentication methods, and standardized service discovery.

Proposed change

Sahara should standardize its client authentication code by utilizing keystoneclient Session objects. This change will entail creating a new module, modifying the OpenStack client utility functions, and adding an authentication plugin object to the context.

A new module, sahara.service.sessions, will be created to contain utility functions and classes to aid in the creation and storage of session objects. This module will also contain a global singleton for the sessions cache.

sahara.service.sesssions will provide a class named SessionCache as well as a function to gain the global singleton instance of that class. The SessionCache will contain cached session objects that can be reused in the creation of individual OpenStack clients. It will also contain functions for generating the session objects required by specific clients. Some clients may require unique versions to be cached, for example if a client requires a specific certificate file then it may have a unique session. For all other clients that do not require a unique session, a common session will be used.

Authentication for session objects will be provided by one of a few methods depending on the type of session needed. For user based sessions, authentication will be obtained from the keystonemiddleware authentication plugin that is generated with each request. For admin based sessions, the credentials found in the sahara configuration file will be used to generate the authentication plugin. Trust based authentication will be handled by generating an authentication plugin based on the information available in each case, either a token for a user or a password for an admin or proxy user.

The sahara.context.Context object will be changed to incorporate an authentication plugin object. When created through REST calls the authentication plugin will be obtained from the keystonemiddleware. When copying a context, the authentication plugin will be copied as well. For other cases the authentication plugin may be set programmatically, for example if an admin authentication plugin is required it can be generated from values in the configuration file, or if a trust based authentication is required it can be generated.

The individual OpenStack client utility modules will be changed to use session and authentication plugin objects for their creation. The sessions will be obtained from the global singleton and the authentication plugin objects can be obtained from the context, or created in circumstances that require more specific authentication, for example when using the admin user or trust based authentication.

The clients for heat and swift do not yet enable session based authentication. These clients should be monitored for addition of this feature and migrated when available.


An alternative to this approach would be to create our own methodology for storing common authentication credentials, but this would be an exercise in futility as we would merely be replicating the work of keystoneclient.

Data model impact


REST API impact


Other end user impact


Deployer impact


Developer impact


Sahara-image-elements impact


Sahara-dashboard / Horizon impact




Primary assignee:
Michael McCune (elmiko)
Other contributors:
Andrey Pavlov (apavlov)

Work Items

  • create sahara.service.sessions
  • modify context to accept authentication plugin
  • modify sahara.utils.openstack clients to use sessions
    • cinder
    • keystone
    • neutron
    • nova
  • modify admin authentications to use plugin objects
  • modify trust authentications to use plugin objects
  • create tests for session cache
  • create developer documentation for client usage




The tests created for this feature will be unit based, to exercise the code paths and logic points. Functional testing should not be necessary as these authentication methods will be exercised in the course of the standard functional testing.

Documentation Impact

This change will only create documentation within the sahara project. Currently there exists no documentation about client usage within the sahara codebase. This change will add a small section describing how to instantiate clients using the sahara.utils.openstack package, with a note about common session authentication.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Except where otherwise noted, this document is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. See all OpenStack Legal Documents.