Chapter 9. Managing Roles and Access Control

In JBoss Operations Network, security is implemented through rules that are set on users and roles. Restrictions are set on what users and roles can access and what operations they can perform.

9.1. Security in JBoss ON

Security establishes precise relationships between users, resources, and the tasks users can perform. Interactions between users and resources are ordered by including or excluding those users and resources (through groups) in defined roles, and then granting the role the ability to perform tasks.

9.1.1. Access Control and Permissions

When a user is allowed to perform a certain operation, that is called a permission. All permissions must be explicitly granted to explicit resources. If a user is not given permission to a specific resource group, then the user, by default, has no access to that group — even if the user has permission to perform a task. Likewise, if a user has access to a group but has no permissions assigned, then the user cannot perform any tasks.
Any permissions set in JBoss ON are given to a role, and the members of the role inherit those permissions. Allowing or restricting permissions is access controls.
In JBoss ON, there are two levels where access control is granted:
  • Global permissions apply to JBoss ON server configuration. This covers administrative tasks, like creating users, editing roles, creating groups, importing resources into the inventory, or changing JBoss ON server properties.
  • Resource-level permissions apply to actions that a user can perform on specific resources in the JBoss ON inventory. These cover actions like creating alerts, configuring monitoring, and changing resource configuration. Resource-level permissions are tied to the subsystem areas within JBoss ON.
All JBoss ON permissions are listed in Table 9.1, “JBoss ON Access Control Definitions”.
For resource-level rights, read and write permissions are granted independently. A user can be granted a right to view (read) resource data without automatically being granted the right to edit that configuration. For example, any user can view the operations history of a resource or view the configured alerts for a resource within the role even if that role has not been given edit access to those subsystem areas.
By default, read access is enabled by default for all resource-level rights, with one exception: resource configuration. Resource configuration can be considered a security risk, so even read access is denied by default. Of course, read access, like write access, can be enabled or disabled for any resource-level permission.
Read Access Option

Figure 9.1. Read Access Option


Granting a role the right to change something does not implicitly grant the right to delete something. For example, users with the configuration write permission can edit resource configuration and view configuration history and settings, but they cannot delete elements in the configuration history. Similar constraints are true for users with permission to create and edit operations and alerts — there is no right to delete elements in the resource history.
Deleting elements in the history requires the manage inventory permission.

Table 9.1. JBoss ON Access Control Definitions

Access Control Type Description
Global Permissions
Manage Security Equivalent to a superuser. Security permissions grant the user the rights to create and edit any entries in JBoss ON, including other users, roles, and resources, to change JBoss ON server settings, and to control inventory.


The Security access control level is extremely powerful, so be cautious about which users are assigned it. Limit the number of superusers to as few as necessary.
Manage Inventory Allows any operation to be performed on any JBoss ON resource, including importing new resources.
Manage Settings Allows a user to add or modify any settings in the JBoss ON server configuration itself. This includes operations like deploying plug-ins or using LDAP authentication.
Manage Bundle Groups Allows a user to add and remove members of a bundle group; implicitly, it includes the permission to view bundles. This is analogous to the Manage Inventory permission for resources.


This permission is required for all bundle-level create, deploy, and delete permissions.
Deploy Bundles to Groups Allows a user to deploy a bundle to any resource group to which the user has access.
View Bundles Allows a user to view all bundles, regardless of the bundle group assignment.
Create Bundles Allows a user to create and update bundle versions. When a bundle is created, it must be assigned to bundle group, unless the user has the View Bundles permission; in that case, a user can create a bundle and leave it unassigned.
Delete Bundles Allows a user to delete any bundle which he has permission to view.
Manage Bundles (Deprecated) Allows a user to upload and manage bundles (packages) used for provisioning resources.
This permission has been deprecated. It is included for backward-compatibility with older bundle configuration and user roles. However, this permission offered no ability to limit access to certain bundles, groups, or resources (for deployment); without this fine-grained control, this permission could only be applied to high-level administrators to maintain security.
Manage Repositories Allows a user to access any configured repository, including private repositories and repositories without specified owners. Users with this right can also associated content sources with repositories.
View Users Allows a user to view the account details (excluding role assignments) for other users in JBoss ON.
Resource-Level Permissions
Inventory Allows a user to edit resource details and connection settings — meaning the information about the resource in the JBoss ON inventory. This does not grant rights to edit the resource configuration.
Manage Measurements Allows the user to configure monitoring settings for the resource.
Manage Alerts Allows the user to create alerts and notifications on a resource. Configuring new alert senders changes the server settings and is therefore a function of the global Settings permissions.
Control Allows a user to run operations (which are also called control actions) on a resource.
Configure Allows users to change the configuration settings on the resource through JBoss ON.


The user still must have adequate permissions on the resource to allow the configuration changes to be made.
This access area has two options:
  • Read, which grants read-only access to the resource configuration
  • Write, which grants modify access and, implicitly, read access
If one of these permissions is not granted to a role, then the users in the role are denied any access to the resource configuration.
Manage Drift Allows the user to create, modify, and delete resource and template drift definitions. It also allows the user to manage drift information, such as viewing and comparing snapshots.
Manage Content Allows the user to manage content providers and repositories that are available to resources.
Create Child Resources Allows the user to manually create a child resource for the specified resource type.
Delete Child Resources Allows the user to delete or uninventory a child resource for the specified resource type.
Bundle-Level Permissions
Assign Bundles to Group Allows a user to add bundles to a group. For explicit bundle groups, this is the only permission required. To add bundles to the unassigned group (which essentially removes it from all group membership), this also requires the global View Bundles permission.
Unassign Bundles from Group Allows a user to remove bundles from a group.
View Bundles in Group Allows a user to view any bundle within a group to which the user has permissions.
Create Bundles in Group Allows a user to create a new bundle within a bundle group to which he has permission. This also allows a user to update the version of an existing bundle within the bundle group.
Delete Bundles from Group Allows a user to delete both bundle versions and entire bundles from the server, so long as they belong to a group to which the user has permissions.
Deploy Bundles to Group Allows a user to deploy any bundle which he can view (regardless of create and delete permissions) to any resource within a resource group to which he has permissions.

9.1.2. Access and Roles

JBoss ON handles access to both resources and JBoss ON configuration through roles. A role has certain permissions assigned to it, meaning things that members of the role are allowed to do.
Only two types of JBoss ON identities can belong to a role: users and groups.
Users are assigned to a role to be granted those permissions. Users can be added to a role individually or be added as a member of an LDAP group.
Resource groups are assigned to a role to provide a list of resources that those users can perform actions on. Another way of looking at it is that users can only manage resources that they are expressly given access to. Roles define that access.


Be sure to create resource groups to assign to any custom roles you create. If no resource groups are assigned to a role, then none of the members of the role can see any resources. Creating groups is described in Section 6.2, “Creating Groups”.
One convenient feature of roles is that users can be automatically assigned to roles by assigning an LDAP group to the role (Section 10.3.2, “Associating LDAP User Groups to Roles”). All of the LDAP users who belong to that group are automatically members of the role. (This is similar to the simplicity of using LDAP user to create JBoss ON users by enabling LDAP authentication, in Section 10.2.3, “Configuring LDAP User Authentication”.)
There are two roles already configured in JBoss ON by default:
  • A superuser role provides complete access to everything in JBoss ON. This role cannot be modified or deleted. The user created when the JBoss ON server was first installed is automatically a member of this role.
  • An all resources role exists that provides full permissions to every resource in JBoss ON (but not to JBoss ON administrative functions like creating users). This is a useful role for IT users, for example, who need to be able to change the configuration or set up alerts for resources managed by JBoss ON but who don't require access over JBoss ON server or agent settings.

9.1.3. Access and Groups

A role is essentially the intersection of four elements: users, resource groups, bundle groups, and the permissions allowed to those groups.
Access defines a relationship. The most direct relationship is with the users: a role allows a user to do something to some resource within JBoss ON. However, access in roles also define relationships between groups.
Group relationships function in two ways. First, it can grant different types of permission to a main group and a subgroup, such as granting view access to all resources and restricting configuration access to just some. It can also grant different types of access to two distinct groups.
Group relationships grow more complex when there are different types of groups involved, both resource groups and bundle groups. While related to a very specific type of task — content or application deployment — there are a number of different potential interactions, depending on different access to resources, to bundles, and to operation points within the lifecycle (create, deploy, delete).
For most infrastructures, users will not belong to a single role, and a single role probably cannot define all of the interactions to perform a set of tasks. Rather, roles are like a Venn diagram, which overlap each other to create the function list of access rules.
Two Roles to Define Access for a Single User to Resources and Bundles

Bundle Group A                  Resource Group A
     |                                 |
     V                                 V
  Role 1   <---  User A  --->    Role 2
     ^                                 ^
     |                                 |
  Permissions                     Permissions
   - view bundles in group         - deploy bundles to group
   - create bundles