Role Based Access Control and Manta

Beginning with Manta 1.3, Role Based Access Control (RBAC) lets you limit access to Manta objects to other members of your organization.


Role Based Access Control is made up of four elements:

We'll take them from the bottom up to see how they fit together.

Resources are the things you want to grant access to. In Manta resources are Manta objects.

Policies are lists of rules that describe access to resources. The rules are written in a human readable language that describes the action that is allowed and the context in which that rule is valid.

The default policy for all objects is to deny access always. Rules are written in terms of what is allowed. For example, the following rules say that getting a Manta object and listing a Manta directory is allowed:

CAN getobject
CAN getdirectory

Users are login credentials that are associated with your Triton account. While each user name must be unique within an account, user names do not need to be globally unique.

If there is a Triton account named bigco and another one named littleco, both can have a user named contractor.

When making REST API requests as a user, simply specify the account in the keyId of the signature in the form of account/user. Specifically,

an account keyId has this format:


whereas a subuser's a keyId looks like this:


Manta tools use the following environment variables to make working with accounts and users easier.

Roles bring users, policies, and resources together. Roles define what users can do with a resource. For example, a role containing a policy with the CAN getobject action enables the members of the role to make GET object requests.

To allow the access to a specific resource, you also need to associate, or tag, the resource with a role and add authorized users as members of the role. You can tag or untag roles for a resource by updating the 'role-tag' attribute value in the object metadata. See the mchmod or mchattr CLI reference for an example of updating object role tags or updating metadata in general.

Roles can be tagged to directories as well (the only exception is the root directory of the account). Directory access allows the user to list the objects in it but does not imply permissions for objects in it. This is different from the POSIX filesystems. In other words,

When a user wants to access a resource, the access system checks whether the user is a default member of role(s) associated with the resource. If so, the access system checks the policies associated with the role to determine whether the user can access the resource.

If a specific role is passed in the request header (e.g. -H "Role: operator"), the access system will evaluate the permissions for that specific role only.

The account owner always has complete access to every resource in the account.

Learning More About Access Control

To learn more see the main RBAC documentation.

If you want a quick walkthrough of how access control works with Manta, see Getting Started With Access Control.

If you are already familiar with the key RBAC concepts, you can review the complete list of Manta Actions and start defining the rules for your RBAC policies.