Apache APISIX integrates with Open Policy Agent to enrich its ecosystem

4 min readDec 24, 2021


Open Policy Agent (OPA) is an open source lightweight general-purpose policy engine that can replace the built-in policy function module in software and help users decouple services from the policy engine. Thanks to OPA’s well-established ecosystem, users can easily integrate OPA with other services, such as program libraries, HTTP APIs, etc.

As shown in the figure below, OPA first describes the policy through the policy language Rego; then stores the policy data through JSON, after which the user can send a query request. After receiving the query request, OPA will combine the policy, data and user input to generate a policy decision and send the decision to the service.

Plugin Introduction

Apache APISIX provides an opa plug-in that allows users to conveniently introduce the policy capabilities provided by OPA to Apache APISIX to enable flexible authentication and access control features.

After configuring the opa plug-in on a route, Apache APISIX assembles request information, connection information, etc. into JSON data and sends it to the policy decision API address when processing response requests. As long as the policy deployed in OPA conforms to the data specification set by Apache APISIX, functions such as pass request, reject request, custom status code, custom response header, custom response header, etc. can be implemented.

This article takes HTTP API as an example to introduce the opa plug-in and details how to integrate Apache APISIX with OPA to decouple authentication authorization for back-end services.

How to use

Build test environment

Use Docker to build OPA services.

docker run -d --name opa -p 8181:8181 openpolicyagent/opa:0.35.0 run -s

Create an example policy.

# Create policycurl -XPUT 'localhost:8181/v1/policies/example' \--header 'Content-Type: text/plain' \--data-raw 'package exampleimport input.requestimport data.usersdefault allow = falseallow {    # has the name test-header with the value only-for-test request header    request.headers["test-header"] == "only-for-test"    # The request method is GET    request.method == "GET"    # The request path starts with /get    startswith(request.path, "/get")    # GET parameter test exists and is not equal to abcd    request.query["test"] != "abcd"    # GET parameter user exists    request.query["user"]}reason = users[request.query["user"]].reason {    not allow    request.query["user"]}headers = users[request.query["user"]].headers {    not allow    request.query["user"]}status_code = users[request.query["user"]].status_code {    not allow    request.query["user"]}'

Create users data.

# Create test user datacurl -XPUT 'localhost:8181/v1/data/users' \--header 'Content-Type: application/json' \--data-raw '{    "alice": {        "headers": {            "Location": "http://example.com/auth"        },        "status_code": 302    },    "bob": {        "headers": {            "test": "abcd",            "abce": "test"        }    },    "carla": {        "reason": "Give you a string reason"    },    "dylon": {        "headers": {            "Content-Type": "application/json"        },        "reason": {            "code": 40001,            "desc": "Give you a object reason"        }    }}'

Create a route and enable the plugin

Run the following command to create the route and enable the opa plugin.

curl -XPUT '' \--header 'X-API-KEY: <api-key>' \--header 'Content-Type: application/json' \--data-raw '{    "uri": "/*",    "methods": [        "GET",        "POST",        "PUT",        "DELETE"    ],    "plugins": {        "opa": {            "host": "",            "policy": "example"        }    },    "upstream": {        "nodes": {            "httpbin.org:80": 1        },        "type": "roundrobin"    }}'

Test Requests

Next, run the following command to send a request to the opa plugin to test the plugin’s running status.

# Allow requestscurl -XGET '' \--header 'test-header: only-for-test'{    "args": {        "test": "abcd1",        "user": "dylon"    },    "headers": {        "Test-Header": "only-for-test",        "with": "more"    },    "origin": "",    "url": ""}# Reject the request and rewrite the status code and response headerscurl -XGET '' \--header 'test-header: only-for-test'HTTP/1.1 302 Moved TemporarilyDate: Mon, 20 Dec 2021 09:37:35 GMTContent-Type: text/htmlContent-Length: 142Connection: keep-aliveLocation: http://example.com/authServer: APISIX/2.11.0# Rejects the request and returns a custom response headercurl -XGET '' \--header 'test-header: only-for-test'HTTP/1.1 403 ForbiddenDate: Mon, 20 Dec 2021 09:38:27 GMTContent-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8Content-Length: 150Connection: keep-aliveabce: testtest: abcdServer: APISIX/2.11.0# Rejects the request and returns a custom response (string)curl -XGET '' \--header 'test-header: only-for-test'HTTP/1.1 403 ForbiddenDate: Mon, 20 Dec 2021 09:38:58 GMTContent-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8Transfer-Encoding: chunkedConnection: keep-aliveServer: APISIX/2.11.0Give you a string reason# Rejects the request and returns a custom response (JSON)curl -XGET '' \--header 'test-header: only-for-test'HTTP/1.1 403 ForbiddenDate: Mon, 20 Dec 2021 09:42:12 GMTContent-Type: application/jsonTransfer-Encoding: chunkedConnection: keep-aliveServer: APISIX/2.11.0{"code":40001,"desc":"Give you a object reason"}

Disable the plugin

Thanks to the dynamic nature of Apache APISIX, the OPA plug-in on a route can be turned off by simply removing the opa plug-in related configuration from the route configuration and saving it.


This article describes the detailed steps for interfacing Apache APISIX and Open Policy Agent. We hope this article will give you a clearer understanding of using Open Policy Agent in Apache APISIX and facilitate the subsequent hands-on operation.

Apache APISIX is not only committed to maintaining its own high performance, but also has always attached great importance to the construction of open source ecology. At present, Apache APISIX has 10+ authentication authorization-related plug-ins that support interfacing with mainstream authentication authorization services in the industry.




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