Migrate ConfKeyManager encryption key ID into Barbican


Support the transition to Barbican by migrating existing keys associated with the ConfKeyManager into Barbican. The ConfKeyManager key uses a key ID of all zeros that’s associated with the fixed_key configuration parameter in the key_manager section of cinder.conf.

Problem description

The legacy ConfKeyManager is insecure, and the prefered encryption key manager is Barbican. Using Barbican in new deployments is easy, but switching deployments from the ConfKeyManager to Barbican is difficult when there are existing volumes encrypted using the ConfKeyManager.

Use Cases

A user has a deployment based on the ConfKeyManager. They wish to to switch to Barbican, but there are existing volumes encrypted using the ConfKeyManager. These existing volumes must continue to function when Barbican is the key manager. The user needs a migration path to Barbican that doesn’t break existing encrypted volumes.

Proposed change

This spec proposes that all instances of the ConfKeyManager’s key (identifed by an all-zeros key ID) be replaced with an identical key stored in Barbican. This is possible because Barbican provides a mechanism for storing existing encryption keys.

A cinder-volume thread will be used to search for encryption key ID instances in the database that match the ConfKeyManager’s all-zeros ID. This thread will be refered to as the key migration thread.

  • The key migration thread will search the volume table for encryption_key_id entries matching the all-zeros ConfKeyManager key ID. For each matching entry in the volume table, a new Barbican key ID will be created with the exact same secret derived from the fixed_key config value used by the ConfKeyManager. The volume table is updated with the new Baribican key ID.

  • The thread will only migrate keys associated with volumes belonging to that host. This will avoid contention when there are multiple cinder-volume hosts.

  • The key migration thread will also look for ConfKeyManager keys stored in metadata tables. Where appropriate, these entries will be updated with the Barbican key ID stored in the corresponding volume table. Otherwise, a new Barbican key ID will be created.

  • The key migration thread will be spawned on start-up whenever both the following conditions are true:

    1. The ConfKeyManager’s “fixed_key” is configured

    2. The key_manager’s “backend” (was “api_class”) is not the ConfKeyManager

  • The key migration thread will generate logs that indicate a key ID has been migrated to Barbican. It will also generate a log that indicates the thread has run to completion without finding any key IDs associated with the ConfKeyManager.

The user is responsible for deciding when to remove the fixed_key from the deployment. It is recommended the user use the logs messages described above to determine when the key migration process has completed. Once the user removes the fixed_key from the configuration, the key migration thread will not be spawned on startup.

The key migration thread will work in conjunction with an enhancement to Castellan and/or Barbican. During the migration process, cinder services may still encounter the ConfKeyManager’s key ID (all zeros) in the database. This is not a valid Barbican key ID, and Barbican will throw an error if asked to provide the key associated with that ID. The enhancement will essentially intercept requests for the all-zeros key ID, and return the ConfKeyManager’s response. All of this would be totally transparent to the rest of the Cinder code. In short, the all-zeros key ID will continue to work even with Barbican as the designated key manager.


Instead of using a separate migration thread, each piece of code that fetches and uses the encryption key ID could be responsible for migrating the key into Barbican. However, there are multiple places where the code needs to handle the key ID, and each instance would need to be updated to perform the migration. This approach would involve significantly more code change, and would require more long-term maintenance.

We could also not migrate keys to Barbican at all, and simply allow the Castellan-Barbican enhancement to handle requests for the all-zeros key ID. However, this would require the user retain the fixed_key value in the configuration, which essentially misses the point of migrating to Barbican.

Data model impact

None. Existing database entries that contain the ConfKeyManager’s encryption key ID will be updated with references to a Barbican key ID, but the database structure will not change.

REST API impact


Security impact

This change should be considered a security enhancement in that it facilitates transitioning existing ConfKeyManager deployments to Barbican.

Notifications impact


Other end user impact


Performance Impact

Minimal. The key migration thread will not be CPU intensive, and other cinder operations will not need to block until the migration thread completes.

Other deployer impact


Developer impact




Primary assignee:

Alan Bishop<abishop@redhat.com>

Work Items

  • Develop code framework for scanning tables for encryption_key_id that needs to be migrated to Barbican

  • Develop utility code for generating new Barbican key ID with ConfKeyManager’s secret

  • Add/update unit tests

  • Update documentation


Castellan and/or Barbican, will be enhanced to aid the migration process. The enhancement will allow volumes encrypted with the ConfKeyManager’s key ID to function properly during the migration process.


  • Add and update the unit tests.

Documentation Impact

The documentation will be updated to state that volumes encrypted using the ConfKeyManager will continue to function correctly after switching to Barbican. The user needs to feel comfortable knowing the migration to Barbican is seamless and automatic.

The changes will explain the user is responsible for removing the ConfKeyManager’s fixed_key from the deployment, with the recommendation that the decision to do so be guided by the log messages generated by the key migration thread. Those message will indicate when keys are still being migrated, and when the migration process has finished.