Barbican secret deletion support

The Block Storage Service (Cinder) offers end users the ability to create images from encrypted volume types. When it does this, Cinder stores a secret in Barbican in a 1-1 relation to the image and puts the Barbican ID of the secret as an image property, cinder_encryption_key_id. When a user deletes such an image, the Barbican secret is no longer applicable to any resource, but it persists in Barbican. As a result, deployers have a situation where useless secrets are piling up in Barbican. This would be mitigated if Glance deleted the unique Barbican secret of an image at the time of image deletion.

Problem description

Cinder would like Glance to delete a resource (the Barbican secret) that Glance has not created. Given that most deployments allow users to set custom image properties, it’s possible for a user to put the cinder_encryption_key_id metadata on any image, which could result in the premature deletion of an in-use key since the 1-1 relation between Barbican secret ID and Glance image has been broken. Hence Glance is reluctant to implement functionality that could result in end user data loss.

Proposed change

Add the Glance common image property cinder_encryption_key_deletion_policy. At this time, cinder_encryption_key_id will also be added as a common image property. Since the common image properties are stored in the image_properties table, they must have a JSON type of string. As common image properties, they will be added to the default schema-image.json file as follows:

    "cinder_encryption_key_id": {
       "description": "Identifier in the OpenStack Key Management Service for the encryption key for the Block Storage Service to use when mounting a volume created from this image",
       "type": "string"
    "cinder_encryption_key_deletion_policy": {
        "description": "States the condition under which the Image Service will delete the object associated with the 'cinder_encryption_key_id' image property.  If this property is missing, the Image Service will take no action",
        "type": "string",
        "enum": [


Note: The common image properties are interoperability suggestions but are not mandatory features of Glance. As such, there is no guarantee that a particular Glance installation will allow them to be listed in the image-schema response. Thus, we cannot rely on schema-validation of the value for this property. Note that this does not affect Cinder writing these properties to images (as long as the Glance configuration option allow_additional_image_properties is True, which is its default value).


We should seriously consider deprecating the allow_additional_image_properties configuration option during this cycle. I believe it was originally introduced to prevent users from flooding the image_properties table with junk and it predated the image_property_quota option. Now that we have the latter option, it’s really unnecessary, and if an operator were to set it False, all sorts of stuff would break as multiple OpenStack services currently write/rely on custom image properties.


There’s a bug someone asked me about in IRC once (I can’t find it in Launchpad, it may not have been filed) that an operator can modify /etc/schema-image.json to include arbitrary properties (which was that file’s original purpose) and assign them JSON types other than ‘string’. The type is enforced by image create/update but you get a 500 because it has to be a string in the database (but the API won’t accept a string if the schema says it’s boolean or something). We should document that these things must be strings.

The presence of this property with the appropriate value gives Glance explicit permission to delete the key, even though Glance has not created it. When this property is present on an image with the value ‘on_image_deletion’, Glance will search the image’s properties for the property cinder_encryption_key_id. If it exists, Glance will make a request to Barbican to delete the secret whose ID is the value of the image property.

Because cinder_encryption_key_deletion_policy is a custom image property, it can be added/deleted/updated by the image owner. Hence, if the image owner has a reason to preserve a key, permission to delete can be revoked by changing the value to ‘do_not_delete’ or by simply deleting the cinder_encryption_key_deletion_policy property.

Error conditions:

  • If cinder_encryption_key_id is not present on the image, image deletion will not be affected by the presence of delete_encryption_key_on_image_deletion: on_image_deletion.

  • If cinder_encryption_key_id indicates a nonexistent Barbican ID, this should be logged, but will not affect image deletion.

  • If cinder_encryption_key_deletion_policy has a value other than on_image_deletion or do_not_delete, Glance will do the following:

    • take no action with respect to the cinder_encryption_key_id

    • delete the image


  1. Do nothing and leave it up to the end user to explicitly delete the secret from Barbican. This is problematic for the Cinder workflow, which has kept secret management hidden from the user, hence the user may not be aware until sometime after the image has been deleted (and its metadata gone) that the Barbican secret can be deleted, and the secret ID is no longer available. Since it’s impossible to know for any secret whether anything might be holding a reference to it, the user can’t simply go to Barbican and determine what secrets are no longer in use. So this is not a really a viable alternative.

  2. Leave the cinder_encryption_key_id as the only metadatum, and have its presence be sufficient for Glance to delete the secret upon image deletion. This has the drawback that an end user who’s using the Cinder feature in a nonstandard way has no way to prevent Glance from deleting a Barbican secret that may still be in use.

  3. Do not make cinder_encryption_key_deletion_policy a common image property, but instead let it be a regular custom image property, similar to the custom image properties that are recognized by the Nova scheduler. Because of the data loss possibility posed by automatic secret deletion, it would be better to have its function clearly documented in the image schema, rather than leaving this to documentation only.

  4. Make cinder_encryption_key_deletion_policy a boolean instead of an enumerated string type. Unfortunately, it cannot actually be a boolean type because it must be stored as a string, which is confusing for tooling developers because its value would be "true", not the JSON true value. Additionally, an image-show response containing:

    cinder_encryption_key_deletion_policy: on_image_deletion

    is self-documenting with respect to what this image property means.

Data model impact

None. A common image property appears in the image schema, but is stored in the image_properties table with the custom image properties.

REST API impact


Security impact

No impact on the security of Glance. This arguably makes the Cinder-Glance volume-to-image functionality more secure. It no longer leaves a user in the position of having to clear out a bunch of excess secrets from Barbican, one of which may actually be in use. Additionally, it doesn’t require a user to manually delete a key (the user might delete the wrong one).

Notifications impact


Other end user impact

The Cinder workflow is designed to hide key handling from the user; this is consistent with that design.

Performance Impact

Glance will need to make a call to Barbican as part of the image delete process.

Other deployer impact

This will be a bonus to deployers who will no longer have to worry about useless Barbican secrets piling up.

Developer impact




Primary assignee:

brian-rosmaita or abhishek-kekane

Work Items

  1. Modify the image schema to include the new common image property and to make the current property Cinder uses, cinder_encryption_key_id, an official common image property.

  2. Implement the code to delete the secret in Barbican upon image deletion.




Since the scenario we’re interested in is whether Glance can delete a secret from Barbican under certain conditions, a tempest test could be implemented that creates a secret, puts the appropriate metadata on an image, deletes the image and verifies that the Barbican secret is/is not deleted.

If there’s an existing tempest test that actually creates an image of an encrypted volume in Glance, then we could piggyback on that to verify that key deletion occurs. This, of course, would have to wait until Cinder has implemented putting the new cinder_encryption_key_deletion_policy flag on images created from encrypted volumes.

Documentation Impact

Document the new properties along with the rest of the common image properties.