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Chapter 4. Configuring Identity Management (External Authentication) with CloudForms

You can configure CloudForms to use system authentication methods such as Red Hat Identity Management (IdM) or IPA, Red Hat Single Sign-On (SSO), or Active Directory (AD).

This method uses apache (httpd) modules with web browsers to control authentication to CloudForms. It is the recommended authentication method to connect CloudForms with most identity management services.

4.1. Configuring Authentication with IPA

You can configure CloudForms to use IPA with the External Authentication (httpd) option in CloudForms.

When external authentication is enabled, users can log in to the CloudForms appliance using their IPA server credentials. The appliance creates user accounts automatically and imports relevant information from the IPA server.

The appliance contains IPA client software for connecting to IPA servers, but it is not configured by default. External authentication is enabled by configuring it with the appliance console and enabling it the web interface.

Disabling external authentication and returning to internal database authentication also requires steps in both the appliance console and the web user interface.

4.1.1. External Authentication Requirements

  • For an appliance to leverage an IPA server on the network, both the appliance and the IPA server must have their clocks synchronized or Kerberos and LDAP authentication fail.
  • The IPA server must be known by DNS and accessible by name. If DNS is not configured accordingly, the hosts files need to be updated to reflect both IPA server and the appliance on both virtual machines.
  • For users to log in to the appliance using IPA server credentials, they must be members of at least one group on the IPA server which is also defined in the appliance. Navigate to the settings menu, then ConfigurationAccess ControlGroups to administer groups.

4.1.2. Configuring the Appliance for External Authentication

To configure the appliance for external authentication, set up authentication using the appliance console, then select the External Authentication option in the web user interface.

Using the appliance console:

  1. Log in to the appliance console using the user name admin.
  2. The summary screen displays:

    External Auth:  not configured
  3. Press Enter.
  4. Select Configure External Authentication (httpd).
  5. Enter the fully qualified host name of the IPA server, for example
  6. Enter the IPA server domain, for example
  7. Enter the IPA server realm, for example TEST.COMPANY.COM.
  8. Enter the IPA server principal, for example admin.
  9. Enter the password of the IPA server principal.
  10. Enter y to proceed.

If any of the following conditions are true, configuration fails:

  • The IPA server is not reachable by its FQDN
  • The IPA server cannot reach the appliance by its FQDN
  • The time is not synchronized between the appliance and the IPA server
  • The IPA server admin password is entered incorrectly

Alternatively, you can configure external authentication using the appliance_console_cli command instead of using the appliance console menu:

Example 4.1. Configuring External Authentication

$ ssh
[appliance]# /bin/appliance_console_cli --host \
                                      --ipaserver \
                                      --iparealm TEST.COMPANY.COM \
                                      --ipaprincipal admin \
                                      --ipapassword smartvm1

Finish configuring external authentication using the web user interface:

  1. Log in to the web user interface as an administrative user.
  2. Navigate to the settings menu, then ConfigurationSettingsZoneServerNTP Servers or use the hosting provider of the virtual machine to synchronize the appliance’s time with an NTP server.
  3. Click config gear (Configuration).
  4. Select your server in the Settings accordion.
  5. Select the Authentication tab.
  6. Select a Session Timeout if required.
  7. Select External (httpd) in the Mode list.
  8. Select Enable Single Sign-On to allow single sign-on using Kerberos tickets from client machines that authenticate to the same IPA server as the appliance.
  9. In the Role Settings area, select Get User Groups from External Authentication (https).
  10. Click Save.

4.1.3. Reverting to Internal Database Authentication

To revert to internal database authentication, first configure authentication using the web user interface, then using the appliance console.

Using the web user interface:

  1. Click config gear (Configuration).
  2. Select your server in the Settings accordion.
  3. Select the Authentication tab.
  4. Select Database in the Mode list.
  5. Click Save.

Using the appliance console:

  1. Log in to the appliance console using the user name admin.
  2. The summary screen displays:

    External Auth:  Id.server.FQDN
  3. Press Enter.
  4. Select Configure External Authentication (httpd). The currently configured IPA server host name and domain are displayed.
  5. Enter y to remove configuration details for the IPA client.

Example 4.2. Reverting to Internal Database Authentication

$ ssh
[appliance]# /bin/appliance_console_cli --uninstall-ipa

4.1.4. Optional Configuration Using the Appliance Console CLI

In addition to using the appliance console, external authentication can optionally be configured and reverted using the appliance console command line interface.

Appliance console CLI command and relevant options include:

/bin/appliance_console_cli --host <appliance_fqdn>
                           --ipaserver <ipa_server_fqdn>
                           --iparealm <realm_of_ipa_server>
                           --ipaprincipal <ipa_server_principal>
                           --ipapassword <ipa_server_password>
Updates the host name of the appliance. If you performed this step using the console and made the necessary updates made to /etc/hosts if DNS is not properly configured, you can omit the --host option.
If omitted, the iparealm is based on the domain name of the ipaserver.
If omitted, defaults to admin.

4.2. Configuring Authentication with Active Directory

This procedure outlines how to configure CloudForms to authenticate against an existing Active Directory (AD) configuration using external HTTP authentication. This provides Active Directory users access to the CloudForms appliance user interface, as well as the REST API.

4.2.1. Connecting CloudForms to an Active Directory Domain

To use an Active Directory domain to authenticate users to CloudForms, configure the following on CloudForms:

  1. Connect to the CloudForms appliance using SSH.
  2. Run realm discover to determine what Active Directory realms are available:

    # realm discover
      type: kerberos
      realm-name: EXAMPLE.COM
      configured: kerberos-member
      server-software: active-directory
      client-software: sssd
      required-package: oddjob
      required-package: oddjob-mkhomedir
      required-package: sssd
      required-package: adcli
      required-package: samba-common
      login-policy: allow-realm-logins
  3. Using the above information for your realm, join the Active Directory realm with a user that has enough permissions to be able to browse the directory:

    # realm join -U user
    Password for user: ******
  4. Allow all realm users to log in using realm permit:

    # realm permit --all
  5. Edit the /etc/sssd/sssd.conf file with your Active Directory domain details. Refer to the following example for formatting:

      ad_domain =
      krb5_realm = EXAMPLE.COM
      realmd_tags = manages-system joined-with-samba
      cache_credentials = True
      id_provider = ad
      krb5_store_password_if_offline = True
      default_shell = /bin/bash
      ldap_id_mapping = True
      use_fully_qualified_names = True
      fallback_homedir = /home/%d/%u
      access_provider = ad
     ldap_user_extra_attrs = mail, givenname, sn, displayname, domainname
    domains =
    config_file_version = 2
    services = nss, pam, ifp
    default_domain_suffix =
    homedir_substring = /home
    default_domain_suffix =
    default_domain_suffix =
    allowed_uids = apache, root
    user_attributes = +mail, +givenname, +sn, +displayname, +domainname
  6. Restart and enable the sssd service:

    # systemctl restart sssd
    # systemctl enable sssd
  7. Make sure the Kerberos keytab created by realm join above is readable by Apache:

    # chgrp apache /etc/krb5.keytab
    # chmod 640 /etc/krb5.keytab
  8. Copy the following httpd configuration files into the correct respective directories with the following commands:

    # TEMPLATE_DIR="/opt/rh/cfme-appliance/TEMPLATE"
    # cp ${TEMPLATE_DIR}/etc/pam.d/httpd-auth /etc/pam.d/httpd-auth
    # cp ${TEMPLATE_DIR}/etc/httpd/conf.d/manageiq-remote-user.conf /etc/httpd/conf.d/
    # cp ${TEMPLATE_DIR}/etc/httpd/conf.d/manageiq-external-auth.conf.erb /etc/httpd/conf.d/manageiq-external-auth.conf
  9. Edit the /etc/httpd/conf.d/manageiq-external-auth.conf file to point to the Kerberos domain hosted by your Active Directory domain by adding or editing the lines for KrbAuthRealms, Krb5KeyTab and KrbServiceName for your environment:

    <Location /dashboard/kerberos_authenticate>
      AuthType           Kerberos
      AuthName           "Kerberos Login"
      KrbMethodNegotiate On
      KrbMethodK5Passwd  Off
      Krb5KeyTab         /etc/krb5.keytab
      KrbServiceName     Any
      Require            pam-account httpd-auth
      ErrorDocument 401  /proxy_pages/invalid_sso_credentials.js
  10. Set the following SELinux booleans:

    # setsebool -P allow_httpd_mod_auth_pam on
    # setsebool -P httpd_dbus_sssd          on
  11. Restart and enable the httpd service:

    # systemctl restart httpd
    # systemctl enable httpd

Complete authentication setup by configuring the following on each appliance with the user_interface or web_services server roles enabled.

From the CloudForms user interface:

  1. Log in to the user interface as an administrative user.
  2. Navigate to the settings menu, then ConfigurationAuthentication.
  3. Select a Session Timeout if required.
  4. Select External (httpd) as the authentication Mode.
  5. Select Enable Single Sign-On to allow single sign-on using Kerberos tickets from client machines that authenticate to the same Active Directory domain as the appliance.
  6. In the Role Settings area, select Get User Groups from External Authentication (httpd).
  7. Click Save.

Make sure the user’s Active Directory groups for the appliance are created and appropriate roles assigned to those groups. See Roles in General Configuration for more information.

CloudForms is now configured to use authentication from your Active Directory domain.

4.2.2. Mapping Active Directory Users to CloudForms User Roles

This section provides instructions for mapping your existing Active Directory (AD) groups to user account roles in CloudForms.

This is done by assigning a CloudForms role to an AD group. When an AD user who is a part of that AD group attempts to log in to CloudForms, they get that role assigned automatically and inherit the permissions from that role. As a result, all users in that AD group will then be assigned the CloudForms role(s) associated with that group.

After configuring CloudForms to connect to an Active Directory domain in Section 4.2.1, “Connecting CloudForms to an Active Directory Domain”, complete the following steps:

  1. Click config gear (Configuration).
  2. Click the Access Control accordion, then click Groups.
  3. Click 1847 (Configuration), and plus green (Add a new Group) to create a group.
  4. In Group Information, select Look Up External Authentication Groups to find a list of groups assigned to a specific user in Active Directory.
  5. In User to Look Up, enter the user name for a user in your AD group.

    AD userlookup

  6. Click Retrieve to look up details for the user in Active Directory and pull group information for the user. As a result, the AD groups will appear in the LDAP Groups for User drop-down list.
  7. From the list in LDAP Groups for User, select the group you want to associate a CloudForms role with; for example, the cloudforms group.

    Assign AD Roles

  8. Select a Role to map to the group.
  9. Select a Project/Tenant to map to the group.
  10. Click Add.

Any user who is part of cloudforms AD group can now log in to CloudForms with their AD username and password, and they will automatically inherit the permissions for the role you assigned earlier.

To confirm this is configured correctly, log in to the CloudForms user interface with a user in the cloudforms AD group.

To grant an additional user access to the CloudForms server, create the user in Active Directory, then add that user to the cloudforms AD group. When that user attempts to log in to CloudForms, they will automatically inherit the correct permissions for the group.

4.3. Configuring Federated Authentication with SAML

This procedure outlines how to manually configure an appliance to use SAML for federation authentication.

To enable external authentication using SAML, complete the following steps to configure your HTTP server, then your CloudForms appliance.


The current SAML implementation only secures the CloudForms appliance’s web user interface with SAML. The REST API and self service user interface do not currently support SAML.

SAML Requirements

The following is required in order to enable SAML authentication to the appliance:

  • A CloudForms appliance
  • A SAML identity provider (e.g. Red Hat Single Sign-On 7.0 or later)

4.3.1. Configuring Authentication with SAML and Red Hat Single Sign-On (RH-SSO)

While other SAML identity providers can be used with CloudForms, this example procedure covers using Red Hat Single Sign-On (RH-SSO) 7.0, which is implemented using the Apache HTTP server’s mod_auth_mellon module.


For more information about Red Hat Single Sign-On (RH-SSO), see the Red Hat Single Sign-On documentation. Configuring the HTTP Server for SAML Authentication with Red Hat Single Sign-On (RH-SSO)

The Apache HTTP server first must be configured to work with SAML authentication. All SAML-related certificates and keys are accessed from /etc/httpd/saml2/.

  1. Log into the CloudForms appliance as root using SSH, and create the /etc/httpd/saml2/ directory:

    # mkdir -p /etc/httpd/saml2
  2. Copy the httpd remote user and SAML template configuration files to the appliance:

    # TEMPLATE_DIR="/opt/rh/cfme-appliance/TEMPLATE"
    # cp ${TEMPLATE_DIR}/etc/httpd/conf.d/manageiq-remote-user.conf /etc/httpd/conf.d/
    # cp ${TEMPLATE_DIR}/etc/httpd/conf.d/manageiq-external-auth-saml.conf /etc/httpd/conf.d/

    The following are notable SAML configuration defaults in the manageiq-external-auth-saml.conf file:

    • Identity Provider Files (i.e. Red Hat SSO)

      • Metadata File: /etc/httpd/saml2/idp-metadata.xml
    • Service Provider Files (i.e. mod_auth_mellon)

      • Private Key File: /etc/httpd/saml2/miqsp-key.key
      • Certificate File: /etc/httpd/saml2/miqsp-cert.cert
      • Metadata File: /etc/httpd/saml2/miqsp-metadata.xml

    Other mod_auth_mellon parameters, such as endpoints and protected URLs, must not be modified as the appliance expects them to be defined as such.

  3. Generate the service provider files on the appliance using the Apache HTTP server’s mod_auth_mellon command

    # cd /etc/httpd/saml2
    # /usr/libexec/mod_auth_mellon/ https://<miq-appliance> https://<miq-appliance>/saml2

    The script creates file names based on the appliance URL.


    If your appliance is behind a load balancer or uses a virtual IP address, use the hostname associated with the VIP. For example: # /usr/libexec/mod_auth_mellon/ https://my-haproxy-ka https://my-haproxy-ka/saml2

  4. Rename the files created by the script to match the expected file names from the manageiq-external-auth-saml.conf file:

    # mv https_<miq-appliance>.key  miqsp-key.key
    # mv https_<miq-appliance>.cert miqsp-cert.cert
    # mv https_<miq-appliance>.xml  miqsp-metadata.xml
  5. Now that the service provider’s metadata.xml file has been generated, the service provider definition can be defined in the SAML identity provider. For Red Hat SSO, a realm can be created for one or more appliances with individual clients defined one per appliance, where the client ID is specified as the URL of the appliance.

    To add a client in the Red Hat SSO CloudForms realm:

    1. Select and import the miqsp-metadata.xml file created for mod_auth_mellon.
    2. Set the client ID as https://<miq-appliance>.
    3. Set the client protocol as saml.
  6. Update the client definition for the appliance in Red Hat SSO with the following:


    Name ID Format


    Valid Redirect URIs


    Assertion Consumer Service POST Binding URL


    Logout Service Redirect Binding URL


  7. Obtain the identity provider’s idp-metadata.xml metadata file as follows:

    # cd /etc/httpd/saml2
    # curl -s -o idp-metadata.xml \
  8. In CloudForms, the following change is necessary to the idp-metadata.xml file for SAML logout to work between mod_auth_mellon and Red Hat SSO:

    # vi idp-metadata.xml
    <   Binding="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:bindings:HTTP-POST"
    >   Binding="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:bindings:HTTP-Redirect"
  9. Restart the HTTP server on the appliance:

    # systemctl restart httpd Configuring SAML Authentication in the CloudForms User Interface

After configuring the HTTP server for SAML, update the CloudForms appliance so that user interface can be accessed using SAML authentication.

  1. Click config gear (Configuration).
  2. Select your server in the Settings accordion.
  3. Select the Authentication tab.
  4. Select a Session Timeout to set the period of inactivity before a user is logged out of the console.
  5. Set the mode to External (httpd).
  6. Check Enable SAML. This enables the SAML login button on the appliance login screen, then redirects to the SAML protected page for authentication, and supports the SAML logout process.
  7. Check Enable Single Sign-On. With this option enabled, initial access to the appliance’s user interface redirects to the SAML identity provider authentication screen. Logging out from the appliance returns the user to the appliance login screen, allowing them to log in as admin unless Disable Local Login is also checked.
  8. Optional: Check Disable Local Login to disable the admin login to appliance and only allow SAML based authentication. Note that if there are issues with the identity provider or you require admin access to the appliance, you cannot log in through the appliance login screen until you re-enable local login as described in Section 4.3.3, “Re-enabling Local Login (Optional).
  9. Check Get User Groups from External Authentication (httpd).
  10. Click Save.

Ensure the user’s groups are created on the appliance and appropriate roles are assigned to those groups. See SAML Assertions in Section 4.3.2, “SAML Assertions” for more information on the parameters used by the CloudForms appliance.

For example, to configure user groups from your SAML identity provider to work with CloudForms:

  1. In your SAML identity provider, specify your existing user groups in similar format to the following: REMOTE_USER_GROUPS=Administrators;CloudAdministrators;Users
  2. On your CloudForms appliance, create the equivalent groups. See Creating a User Group in General Configuration.
  3. On your CloudForms appliance, assign EVM roles to the groups. See Creating a Role in General Configuration.

Complete the above steps on each appliance in the settings menu, then navigate to ConfigurationAccess Control.

You can now log into your CloudForms appliance using your SAML credentials.

4.3.2. SAML Assertions

To authenticate to the CloudForms appliance using SAML, the following remote user parameters are looked at by the appliance upon a successful login and redirect from the identity provider. These parameters are used by the appliance to obtain group authentication information.

HTTP EnvironmentSAML Assertion













For Red Hat SSO, the above SAML assertions can be defined for the appliance client in Red Hat SSO as mappers.



AttributeStatement Mapper

User Property



AttributeStatement Mapper

User Property



AttributeStatement Mapper

User Property



AttributeStatement Mapper

User Property



AttributeStatement Mapper

User Attribute



Group Mapper

Group List



The fullName attribute was not available in the default database as of this writing and was added as a user attribute.

4.3.3. Re-enabling Local Login (Optional)

If you disabled local login in the CloudForms user interface but need the ability to log in as admin, you can re-enable local login using one of the following methods:

Re-enabling Local Login from the Appliance User Interface

This method requires the identity provider to be available, and the ability to log in as a user with enough administrative privileges to update CloudForms authentication settings.

  1. Log in to the appliance user interface as the administrative user.
  2. From the settings menu, select ConfigurationAuthentication.
  3. Uncheck Disable Local Login.
  4. Click Save.

Re-enabling Local Login from the Appliance Console:

  1. Use SSH to log into the appliance as root.
  2. Run the appliance_console command.
  3. Select Update External Authentication Options.
  4. Select Enable Local Login.
  5. Apply the updates.

Alternatively, log into the appliance as root using SSH, and run the following command:

# appliance_console_cli --extauth-opts local_login_disabled=false

4.4. Troubleshooting External Authentication Configuration

The following are common errors that you may encounter when integrating with IPA:

Error -1 : Kerberos authentication failed: kinit: Cannot contact any KDC for realm

Resolution: Verify on IPA server if you are able to log into the IPA server using same user.

Error-2: [----] W, [2017-09-28T10:05:29.157980 #28902:fa8bc4] WARN -- Failure: MIQ(Authenticator.authenticate) userid: [jdoe] - Authentication failed for userid jdoe: Authentication token is no longer valid; new one required

Resolution: The password has expired. Go to IPA/LDAP server and update your password using kinit <username>.

Error-3: [----] W, [2017-09-28T10:13:10.083614 #28902:fa8bc4] WARN -- Failure: MIQ(Authenticator.block in authorize) userid: [jdoe] - Authentication failed for userid jdoe, unable to match user's group membership to an EVM role

Resolution: You should add the same group to the CloudForms group. Make sure you select Look up External Authentication Groups and enter the group name and user to look up.

4.4.1. Additional Troubleshooting Tips

  • Make an IPA/LDAP host entry in /etc/hosts file on the CloudForms appliance.
  • Make sure NTP synchronization exists between the CloudForms appliance and the IPA server.
  • Check /var/log/krb5kdc.log on the IPA server end and /var/www/miq/vmdb/log/audit.log on the CloudForms appliance end for any other exception.