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Chapter 6. Service Catalog Components

6.1. Service Catalog

6.1.1. Overview

When developing microservices-based applications to run on cloud native platforms, there are many ways to provision different resources and share their coordinates, credentials, and configuration, depending on the service provider and the platform.

To give developers a more seamless experience, OpenShift Container Platform includes a service catalog, an implementation of the Open Service Broker API (OSB API) for Kubernetes. This allows users to connect any of their applications deployed in OpenShift Container Platform to a wide variety of service brokers.

The service catalog allows cluster administrators to integrate multiple platforms using a single API specification. The OpenShift Container Platform web console displays the cluster service classes offered by service brokers in the service catalog, allowing users to discover and instantiate those services for use with their applications.

As a result, service users benefit from ease and consistency of use across different types of services from different providers, while service providers benefit from having one integration point that gives them access to multiple platforms.

6.1.2. Design

The design of the service catalog follows this basic workflow:


New terms in the following are defined further in Concepts and Terminology.

Service Catalog Architecture
A cluster administrator registers one or more cluster service brokers with their OpenShift Container Platform cluster. This can be done automatically during installation for some default-provided service brokers or manually.
Each service broker specifies a set of cluster service classes and variations of those services (service plans) to OpenShift Container Platform that should be made available to users.
Using the OpenShift Container Platform web console or CLI, users discover the services that are available. For example, a cluster service class may be available that is a database-as-a-service called BestDataBase.
A user chooses a cluster service class and requests a new instance of their own. For example, a service instance may be a BestDataBase instance named my_db.
A user links, or binds, their service instance to a set of pods (their application). For example, the my_db service instance may be bound to the user’s application called my_app.

When a user makes a request to provision or deprovision a resource, the request is made to the service catalog, which then sends a request to the appropriate cluster service broker. With some services, some operations such as provision, deprovision, and update are expected to take some time to fulfill. If the cluster service broker is unavailable, the service catalog will continue to retry the operation.

This infrastructure allows a loose coupling between applications running in OpenShift Container Platform and the services they use. This allows the application that uses those services to focus on its own business logic while leaving the management of these services to the provider. Deleting Resources

When a user is done with a service (or perhaps no longer wishes to be billed), the service instance can be deleted. In order to delete the service instance, the service bindings must be removed first. Deleting the service bindings is known as unbinding. Part of the deletion process includes deleting the secret that references the service binding being deleted.

Once all the service bindings are removed, the service instance may be deleted. Deleting the service instance is known as deprovisioning.

If a project or namespace containing service bindings and service instances is deleted, the service catalog must first request the cluster service broker to delete the associated instances and bindings. This is expected to delay the actual deletion of the project or namespace since the service catalog must communicate with cluster service brokers and wait for them to perform their deprovisioning work. In normal circumstances, this may take several minutes or longer depending on the service.


If you delete a service binding used by a deployment, you must also remove any references to the binding secret from the deployment. Otherwise, the next rollout will fail.

6.1.3. Concepts and Terminology

Cluster Service Broker

A cluster service broker is a server that conforms to the OSB API specification and manages a set of one or more services. The software could be hosted within your own OpenShift Container Platform cluster or elsewhere.

Cluster administrators can create ClusterServiceBroker API resources representing cluster service brokers and register them with their OpenShift Container Platform cluster. This allows cluster administrators to make new types of managed services using that cluster service broker available within their cluster.

A ClusterServiceBroker resource specifies connection details for a cluster service broker and the set of services (and variations of those services) to OpenShift Container Platform that should then be made available to users. Of special note is the authInfo section, which contains the data used to authenticate with the cluster service broker.

Example ClusterServiceBroker Resource

kind: ClusterServiceBroker
  name: BestCompanySaaS
        namespace: test-ns
        name: secret-name

Cluster Service Class

Also synonymous with "service" in the context of the service catalog, a cluster service class is a type of managed service offered by a particular cluster service broker. Each time a new cluster service broker resource is added to the cluster, the service catalog controller connects to the corresponding cluster service broker to obtain a list of service offerings. A new ClusterServiceClass resource is automatically created for each.


OpenShift Container Platform also has a core concept called services, which are separate Kubernetes resources related to internal load balancing. These resources are not to be confused with how the term is used in the context of the service catalog and OSB API.

Example ClusterServiceClass Resource

kind: ClusterServiceClass
  name: smallDB
  brokerName: BestDataBase
  plans: [...]

Cluster Service Plan
A cluster service plan is represents tiers of a cluster service class. For example, a cluster service class may expose a set of plans that offer varying degrees of quality-of-service (QoS), each with a different cost associated with it.
Service Instance

A service instance is a provisioned instance of a cluster service class. When a user wants to use the capability provided by a service class, they can create a new service instance.

When a new ServiceInstance resource is created, the service catalog controller connects to the appropriate cluster service broker and instructs it to provision the service instance.

Example ServiceInstance Resource

kind: ServiceInstance
  name: my_db
  namespace: test-ns
  externalClusterServiceClassName: smallDB
  externalClusterServicePlanName: default

The term application refers to the OpenShift Container Platform deployment artifacts, for example pods running in a user’s project, that will use a service instance.
Credentials are information needed by an application to communicate with a service instance.
Service Binding

A service binding is a link between a service instance and an application. These are created by cluster users who wish for their applications to reference and use a service instance.

Upon creation, the service catalog controller creates a Kubernetes secret containing connection details and credentials for the service instance. Such secrets can be mounted into pods as usual. There is also integration with PodPresets, which allow you to express how the secret should be consumed, and in which pods.

Example ServiceBinding Resource

kind: ServiceBinding
  name: myBinding
  namespace: test-ns
    name: my_db
    securityLevel: confidential
  secretName: mySecret


A parameter is a special field available to pass additional data to the cluster service broker when using either service bindings or service instances. The only formatting requirement is for the parameters to be valid YAML (or JSON). In the above example, a security level parameter is passed to the cluster service broker in the service binding request. For parameters that need more security, place them in a secret and reference them using parametersFrom.

Example Service Binding Resource Referencing a Secret

kind: ServiceBinding
  name: myBinding
  namespace: test-ns
    name: my_db
    - secretKeyRef:
        name: securityLevel
        key: myKey
  secretName: mySecret

6.1.4. Provided Cluster Service Brokers

OpenShift Container Platform provides the following cluster service brokers for use with the service catalog.

6.2. Template Service Broker


The template service broker (TSB) gives the service catalog visibility into the default Instant App and Quickstart templates that have shipped with OpenShift Container Platform since its initial release. The TSB can also make available as a service anything for which an OpenShift Container Platform template has been written, whether provided by Red Hat, a cluster administrator or user, or a third party vendor.

By default, the TSB shows the objects that are globally available from the openshift project. It can also be configured to watch any other project that a cluster administrator chooses.

6.3. OpenShift Ansible Broker

6.3.1. Overview

The OpenShift Ansible broker (OAB) is an implementation of the Open Service Broker (OSB) API that manages applications defined by Ansible playbook bundles (APBs). APBs provide a new method for defining and distributing container applications in OpenShift Container Platform, consisting of a bundle of Ansible playbooks built into a container image with an Ansible runtime. APBs leverage Ansible to create a standard mechanism for automating complex deployments.

The design of the OAB follows this basic workflow:

  1. A user requests list of available applications from the service catalog using the OpenShift Container Platform web console.
  2. The service catalog requests the OAB for available applications.
  3. The OAB communicates with a defined container registry to learn which APBs are available.
  4. The user issues a request to provision a specific APB.
  5. The provision request makes its way to the OAB, which fulfills the user’s request by invoking the provision method on the APB.

6.3.2. Ansible Playbook Bundles

An Ansible playbook bundle (APB) is a lightweight application definition that allows you to leverage existing investment in Ansible roles and playbooks.

APBs use a simple directory with named playbooks to perform OSB API actions, such as provision and bind. Metadata defined in apb.yml spec file contains a list of required and optional parameters for use during deployment.

See the APB Development Guide for details on the overall design and how APBs are written.