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· 4 min read
Roie Schwaber-Cohen

The Open Policy Agent (OPA) is a general-purpose decision engine used in a wide variety of contexts where policies govern authorization and access-control. One of the most important value propositions of OPA is that it decouples decision logic (defined in the policy) from decision enforcement (which happens in the application or service). This decoupling allows the policy to be developed and managed separately from the application or service. Decision-making execution is delegated to the OPA engine, guaranteeing that the policies are consistently interpreted and enforced.

OPA is used to enforce policies in many contexts, including microservices, Kubernetes, CI/CD pipelines, and API gateways. Having a single engine and language for handling authorization policies across the stack is a huge advantage for developers: it allows for policy reuse and makes testing, automation, and maintenance easier.

OPA policies are written in Rego and then bundled into a compressed tarball. The tarball is then loaded into the target environment, where the policy is enforced.

We believe that OPA’s distribution workflow could be enhanced and improved by integrating it with two Linux Foundation OSS projects: OCIv2 - the industry standard for container image formats, and Sigstore, an open and pluggable standard for code signing.

Three interconnected concerns need to be addressed as part of the policy-as-code workflow: versioning, signing, and sharing.

  • Versioning a policy makes it easier to maintain, share and discover
  • Signing a policy makes it possible to trust that the policy’s content is what the consumer of the policy expects it to be
  • Sharing and discoverability of policies promote reuse and reduce duplication of code and effort.