Vault Enterprise Namespaces
Note: This feature is available in all versions of Vault Enterprise.
Many organizations implement Vault as a "service", providing centralized management for teams within an organization while ensuring that those teams operate within isolated environments known as tenants.
There are two common challenges when implementing this architecture in Vault:
Frequently teams within a VaaS environment require strong isolation from other users in their policies, secrets, and identities. Tenant isolation is typically a result of compliance regulations such as GDPR, though it may be necessitated by corporate or organizational infosec requirements.
As new tenants are added, there is an additional human cost in the management overhead for teams. Given that tenants will likely have different policies and request changes at a different rate, managing a multi-tenant environment can become very difficult for a single team as the number of tenants within that organization grow.
'Namespaces' is a set of features within Vault Enterprise that allows Vault environments to support Secure Multi-tenancy (or SMT) within a single Vault infrastructure. Through namespaces, Vault administrators can support tenant isolation for teams and individuals as well as empower delegated administrators to manage their own tenant environment.
API operations performed under a namespace can be done by providing the relative
request path along with the namespace path using the
Similarly, the namespace header value can be provided in full or partially when
reaching into nested namespaces. When provided partially, the remaining
namespace path must be provided in the request path in order to reach into the
desired nested namespace.
Alternatively, the fully qualified path can be provided without using the
X-Vault-Namespace header. In either scenario, Vault will construct the fully
qualified path from these two sources to correctly route the request to the
For example, these three requests are equivalent:
Root only API Paths
There are certain API paths that can only be called from the root namespace:
Namespaces are isolated environments that functionally exist as "Vaults within a Vault." They have separate login paths and support creating and managing data isolated to their namespace. This data includes the following:
- Secret Engines
- Auth Methods
- ACL, EGP, and RGP Policies
- Password Policies
- Identities (Entities, Groups)
Rather than rely on Vault system admins, namespaces can be managed by delegated admins who can be prescribed administration rights for their namespace. These delegated admins can also create their own child namespaces, thereby prescribing admin rights on a subordinate group of delegate admins.
Child namespaces can share policies from their parent namespaces. For example, a child namespace may refer to parent identities (entities and groups) when writing policies that function only within that child namespace. Similarly, a parent namespace can have policies asserted on child identities. This behavior can be configured using the group-policy-application API, and can be set to allow policies to be applied irrespective of namespace hierarchy, allowing sharing across any namespace.
Refer to the Secure Multi-Tenancy with Namespaces tutorial to learn how to use Vault as a Service to allow organizations(tenants) to manage their own secrets and policies.