Rbacsync Save

Automatically sync groups into Kubernetes RBAC

Project README


Build Status

This project provides a Kubernetes controller to synchronize RoleBindings and ClusterRoleBindings, used in Kubernetes RBAC, from group membership sources using consolidated configuration objects. The provided configuration objects allow you to define "virtual" groups that result in the creation of RoleBindings and ClusterRoleBindings that directly reference all users in the group.

Group membership can be declared directly in configuration objects or be pulled from an "upstream". Currently, the only supported upstream is GSuite, but we may add others, if required.


Custom Resources

RBACSync leverages Custom Resource Definitions to manage binding configuration and group membership declaration. The CRDs are available in the deployment directory. Specific information about the type declarations are available in the the source code.

There are two CRDs defined depending on whether you want to create groups with cluster scope or namespace scope:

Custom Resource Definition Scope Description
RBACSyncConfig Namespaced Maps groups to users to create namespaced RoleBindings
ClusterRBACSyncConfig Cluster Maps groups to users to create ClusterRoleBindings

To define groups with RoleBindings within a namespace, you'll need to create an RBACSyncConfig. To define groups that create ClusterRoleBindings, you'll need to create ClusterRBACSyncConfig.

These two configuration objects can be used in concert to correctly configure user bindings to Roles and ClusterRoles depending on the context.

If you are confused at any time, it might help to look at the example.yml for details.


The configurations used for RBACSync are centered around a bindings entry. It declares a mapping of group name to RoleBinding or ClusterRoleBinding. We can use a very simple configuration to show this concept:

apiVersion: rbacsync.getcruise.com/v1alpha
kind: ClusterRBACSyncConfig
  name: example-simple
  # Defines the roleRef to use against the subjects defined above.
  - group: [email protected]
      apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
      kind: ClusterRole
      name: cluster-admin

The above is a configuration for the ClusterRBACSyncConfig with a single binding entry that will map the Google Group "[email protected]". For each binding entry, a ClusterRoleBinding will be created. It will look similar to the following:

apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
kind: ClusterRoleBinding
    rbacsync.getcruise.com/group: [email protected]
    owner: example-simple # allows use to select child objects quickly
  name: [email protected]
  ownerReferences: # will be owned by the above configuration
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  kind: ClusterRole
  name: cluster-admin
# Users that are a member of the group, from the upstream
- apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  kind: User
  name: [email protected]
- apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  kind: User
  name: [email protected]
- apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  kind: User
  name: [email protected]

The above will be created when the configuration is added to the Kubernetes cluster. If the upstream group definition changes, updates will be picked up after a configurable polling period. If the configuration that defined this, in this case example-simple, is removed, this ClusterRoleBinding will be automatically removed.

For namespace-scoped RBACSyncConfig, the behavior is nearly identical except for the following:

  1. RBACSyncConfig must be defined with a namespace.
  2. All RoleBindings created as a result of the RBACSyncConfig will be in the same namespace.

RBACSyncConfig may reference a ClusterRole to grant permissions to namespaced resources defined in the ClusterRole within the RoleBinding’s namespace. This allows administrators to define a set of common roles for the entire cluster, then reuse them within multiple namespaces.

When deciding between using the two, you should mostly only need to look at whether your assigning ClusterRoles or Roles and then use the equivalent configuration. Refer to the Kubernetes RBAC documentation for further guidance on that topic.


Group memberships allow one to specify the targets of the RoleBindings and ClusterRoleBindings used in a configuration object. Abstractly, we'd like to know based on a group name, what subjects are a member of that group. If you are using an upstream, such as GSuite, these memberships are drawn directly from group memberships define there. There may be cases when you want to store these definitions directly in the cluster or need to augment groups with additional members, such as GCP service accounts.

Each config has a spec which defines memberships, calling out each member of the group. The groups defined in memberships may then be referenced in one or mores bindings.

To add memberships, simply include a memberships section in the spec, memberships:

  - group: cluster-admin-group
    - kind: User
      name: [email protected]
      apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
    - kind: User
      name: [email protected]
      apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
    - kind: User
      name: [email protected]
  - group: someother-group
    - kind: User
      name: [email protected]
      apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io

The above declares two groups, "cluster-admin-group" and "someother-group", each with a list of subjects. When creating RoleBindings, the subjects declared here will be used as the subjects in the RoleBinding object that gets created.

NOTE: If you're using GSuite to configure group memberships, you likely won't need this section. However, it may be useful to add supplementary members or robot accounts to groups using memberships.


For the most part, you can start using RBACSync with the default deployment, defined in deploy/20-deployment.yml. This will allow you to deploy configurations with bindings and memberships.

For reference, here are the available flags on the rbacsync binary:

Usage of bin/rbacsync:
		log to standard error as well as files
  -debug-addr string
		bind address for liveness, readiness, debug and metrics (default ":8080")
  -gsuite.credentials string
		path to service account token json for gsuite access
  -gsuite.delegator string
		Account that has been delegated for use by the service account.
		enabled membership definitions from gsuite
  -gsuite.pattern string
		Groups forwarded to gsuite account must match this pattern
  -gsuite.timeout duration
		Timeout for requests to gsuite API (default 30s)
  -kubeconfig string
		(optional) absolute path to the kubeconfig file (default "/home/sday/.kube/config")
  -log_backtrace_at value
		when logging hits line file:N, emit a stack trace
  -log_dir string
		If non-empty, write log files in this directory
		log to standard error instead of files
  -stderrthreshold value
		logs at or above this threshold go to stderr
  -upstream-poll-period duration
		poll period for upstream group updates (default 5m0s)
  -v value
		log level for V logs
		show the verson and exit
  -vmodule value
		comma-separated list of pattern=N settings for file-filtered logging

In configuring upstreams, you'll likely have to add one or more flags. Note that you can also increase logging granularity, if you need more in depth debugging.

Enabling GSuite Group Configuration

To use GSuite, you'll need a service account with "G Suite Domain-Wide Delegation of Authority". It's recommended to read the guide to understand how this works in case you run into issues. The blog Navigating the Google Suite Directory API may also provide some insight.

The goal is to end up with two accounts:

  1. A "robot" GSuite account that acts as a "delagator" to the service account.
  2. A "service account" in a GCP project that will act as a delegate.

We then use the credentials of the service account with rbacsync to allow it to read the GSuite Directory API.

NOTE: You may be able to get away with delegating to a user account and taking it through the OAuth flow to delegate permissions. It is recommended to have a robot account with restricted permissions to control access and avoid lockouts if a user account experiences problems.

To setup this account, you'll need to take the following steps:

  1. Create a new GSuite account with readonly access to the API on Google Groups. We'll call this the "robot" account. It should have the following permissions:

    Please refer to the GSuite documentation, as the exact process for doing this may have changed.

  2. Create a GCP service account in the GCP project where you're interested in using the GSuite "robot" account. Enable G Suite Domain-wide Delegation and note the Client ID.

  3. Using the "security" component in the "admin.google.com" console, use the Client ID for the service account and add the following scopes, which are the same as those from step 1:

  4. Generate the service account credentials. Make sure to save the generated JSON file somewhere safe.

Once we have the account setup we can modify the deployment to allow rbacsync to use it. The first step is creating the secret from the service account credentials created in step 5:

kubectl create secret generic --from-file=token.json=<my service account credentials path> rbacsync-gsuite-credentials

We can then apply the following diff to the rbacsync deployment to use the secret created above:

@@ -14,6 +14,10 @@
       restartPolicy: Always
       serviceAccountName: rbacsync
+      volumes:
+      - name: rbacsync-gsuite-credentials
+        secret:
+          secretName: rbacsync-gsuite-credentials
       - name: rbacsync
         image: cruise/rbacsync:latest
@@ -24,6 +28,14 @@
         - /bin/rbacsync
         - "-logtostderr"
+        - "-gsuite.enabled"
+        - "-gsuite.credentials"
+        - "/run/secrets/gsuite/token.json"
+        - "-gsuite.delegator"
+        - "[email protected]"
+        volumeMounts:
+        - mountPath: /run/secrets/gsuite
+          name: rbacsync-gsuite-credentials
         imagePullPolicy: Always
         - name: debug-port

In the above, we set several flags to pass to rbacsync:

  • -gsuite.enabled: enables the GSuite upstream for groups.
  • -gsuite.credentials: path to the credentials generated for the service account. We map them to the secret volume mount location above.
  • -gsuite.delegator: This is the delegator whom the service account acts on behalf of. We call this the "robot" account in the instructions above. Be sure to set the argument to whatever account you use.

NOTE: You can also use -gsuite.pattern to limit which group names are sent upstream for queries. That takes a regular expression that must be matched before it will be allowed to query the upstream.

Once the above is configured and deployed, groups referenced in bindings will be automatically queried against GSuite. If memberships have the same name as an upstream group, the subject lists from the upstream and the memberships section will be merged.


WARNING: Before running any commands here, make sure you are in the right cluster context. This will deploy to whatever cluster kubectl is currently configured for.

You can deploy the rbacsync with the following command:

kubectl apply -f deploy/

Once it has been deployed, you'll need to push a config to specify group members using the CRDs defined in this project. There are two CRDs defined depending on whether you want to create groups with cluster scope or namespace scope. To define groups with RoleBindings within a namespace, you'll need to create an RBACSyncConfig. To define groups that create ClusterRoleBindings, you'll need to create ClusterRBACSyncConfig.

If the RBACSyncConfig changes, the associated RoleBindings will be updated to reflect the difference. For example, if new group members are added, the RoleBinding will be updated with the new subjects.

If you remove RBACSyncConfig or ClusterRBACSyncConfig, any associated RoleBindings or ClusterRoleBindings will be removed, as well.



Building is easy to do. Make sure to setup your local environment according to https://golang.org/doc/code.html. Once setup, you should be able to build the binaries using the following command:


Generated binaries will then be available in bin/. See the section on local development for how to use the binary.

Local Development

For developing on rbacsync, you can run inside or outside the cluster. For changes with lots of iteration, it is probably best to run it locally, since building and pushing an image to a deployment can be time consuming. The process would use the following commands:

WARNING: Before running any commands here, make sure you are in the right cluster context. This will deploy to whatever cluster kubectl is currently configured for.

kubectl apply -f deploy/10-deployment.yml
bin/rbacsync -logtostderr

The above will use your local kube context to run rbacsync, so you'll need cluster-admin Role for this to work. rbacsync will fire log messages and events complaining about permissions if it cannot create the specified roles.

When you run the process, nothing will happen unless it has CRs to operate one. You can use the example.yml to try it out:

kubectl apply -f example.yml

You'll know its working if you see log messages indicating that it saw the configs.

In Cluster Development

If you are working on changes that require rbacsync to be running in a cluster, such as when checking whether operations will work correctly, you can use the deploy target. To test in a cluster, the following can be run:

make REGISTRY=cruise/ deploy

The above will build the image, push it to a registry, apply the CRDs and deployment to the kubernetes context and update the deployment to use the created image. This makes iterating on testing within a cluster much easier.

You'll need cluster admin to perform this operation.

Release Process

RBACSync is versioned using semantic versioning. For the most part, patch releases should be only bug fixes, minor releases can have backwards compatible feature introductions and major releases are for breaking changes. If you can't decide whether a feature or change is breaking, err on the side of caution when incrementing the version number and just do it.

The release process for rbacsync is triggered with tags. Every build in master will pickup the tag and create a version number relative, using a git commitish, to the tag and push it to the registry. For production, you should only use exact tags, and, if possible, only proper releases, meaning no release candidates, alphas or betas.

Tagging your release

To perform a release, you simply need to push a tag to the repository. To create a tag, run the following, with the new version number of course:

git tag -s v0.1.0

Notice that the version number is always prefixed with a v when it appears as a tag. This allows us to easily identify version tags with a text prefix. We also sign the tag with a PGP key. If you haven't already done so, it is recommended to generate a PGP key for your workstation and add it to github. When you run this command, an editor will pop up to include a release message. The following format is usually sufficient:

rbacsync 0.1.0

With this release, we introduce support for Google Groups API with
GSuite Directory SDK. This allows one to configure groups without
declared memberships that are queried to the GSuite upstream resource.

There may be releases with complex information for upgrades and caveats, so feel free to be verbose. Once you are ready, save in the editor and the tag will be created. To push it to github, run the following command:

Pushing your release tag

git push --tags origin v0.1.0

This will push the tag remotely, and start the build and push for rbacsync. Make sure to check in CircleCI to ensure it was triggered.

Create your release in Github

In addition to pushing this tag, it is also recommended to create a release in the releases page. Make sure to name it consistently with other releases. It should be sufficient to use the exact same text from the tag, but you may have to tweak the formatting to be compatible with markdown.

While this is an extra step when releasing the software, it is very helpful when looking at a project to see its releases properly documented in github. Also follow this practice to have a healthy project!


Copyright 2018 Cruise LLC

Licensed under the Apache License Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this project except in compliance with the License.

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.


Contributions are welcome! Please see the agreement for contributions in CONTRIBUTING.md.

Commits must be made with a Sign-off (git commit -s) certifying that you agree to the provisions in CONTRIBUTING.md.

Open Source Agenda is not affiliated with "Rbacsync" Project. README Source: cruise-automation/rbacsync
Open Issues
Last Commit
2 months ago

Open Source Agenda Badge

Open Source Agenda Rating