Access control design

Collections and grants are strong tools that can be used to control access and visibility to resources in MKE.

This tutorial describes a fictitious company named OrcaBank that needs to configure an architecture in MKE with role-based access control (RBAC) for their application engineering group.

Team access requirements

OrcaBank reorganized their application teams by product with each team providing shared services as necessary. Developers at OrcaBank do their own DevOps and deploy and manage the lifecycle of their applications.

OrcaBank has four teams with the following resource needs:

  • security should have view-only access to all applications in the cluster.

  • db should have full access to all database applications and resources.

  • mobile should have full access to their mobile applications and limited access to shared db services.

  • payments should have full access to their payments applications and limited access to shared db services.

Role composition

To assign the proper access, OrcaBank is employing a combination of default and custom roles:

  • View Only (default role) allows users to see all resources (but not edit or use).

  • Ops (custom role) allows users to perform all operations against configs, containers, images, networks, nodes, secrets, services, and volumes.

  • View & Use Networks + Secrets (custom role) enables users to view/connect to networks and view/use secrets used by db containers, but prevents them from seeing or impacting the db applications themselves.

Collection architecture

OrcaBank is also creating collections of resources to mirror their team structure.

Currently, all OrcaBank applications share the same physical resources, so all nodes and applications are being configured in collections that nest under the built-in collection, /Shared.

Other collections are also being created to enable shared db applications.

  • /Shared/mobile hosts all Mobile applications and resources.

  • /Shared/payments hosts all Payments applications and resources.

  • /Shared/db is a top-level collection for all db resources.

  • /Shared/db/payments is a collection of db resources for Payments applications.

  • /Shared/db/mobile is a collection of db resources for Mobile applications.

The collection architecture has the following tree representation:

├── System
└── Shared
    ├── mobile
    ├── payments
    └── db
        ├── mobile
        └── payments

OrcaBank’s Grant composition ensures that their collection architecture gives the db team access to all db resources and restricts app teams to shared db resources.

LDAP/AD integration

OrcaBank has standardized on LDAP for centralized authentication to help their identity team scale across all the platforms they manage.

To implement LDAP authentication in MKE, OrcaBank is using MKE’s native LDAP/AD integration to map LDAP groups directly to MKE teams. Users can be added to or removed from MKE teams via LDAP which can be managed centrally by OrcaBank’s identity team.

The following grant composition shows how LDAP groups are mapped to MKE teams.

Grant composition

OrcaBank is taking advantage of the flexibility in MKE’s grant model by applying two grants to each application team. One grant allows each team to fully manage the apps in their own collection, and the second grant gives them the (limited) access they need to networks and secrets within the db collection.

OrcaBank access architecture

OrcaBank’s resulting access architecture shows applications connecting across collection boundaries. By assigning multiple grants per team, the Mobile and Payments applications teams can connect to dedicated Database resources through a secure and controlled interface, leveraging Database networks and secrets.


In MKE, all resources are deployed across the same group of MKE worker nodes. Node segmentation is provided in Docker Enterprise.

DB team

The db team is responsible for deploying and managing the full lifecycle of the databases used by the application teams. They can execute the full set of operations against all database resources.

Mobile team

The mobile team is responsible for deploying their own application stack, minus the database tier that is managed by the db team.