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OPAL Server

There are three important concepts in the configuration of the OPAL Server that should be understood.

image: permitio/opal-server:latest
- OPAL_BROADCAST_URI=postgres://postgres:postgres@broadcast_channel:5432/postgres
- OPAL_DATA_CONFIG_SOURCES={"config":{"entries":[{"url":"http://opal_server:7002/policy-data","topics":["policy_data"],"dst_path":"/static"}]}}
- "7002:7002"
- broadcast_channel

1. Policy-data basic configuration

The OPAL server provides the base data source configuration for the OPAL client. The configuration is structured as directives for the client.

Each directive specifies:

  1. what to fetch - the URL
  2. where to put it in the OPA data document hierarchy - the destination path

The data sources configured on the server will be fetched by the client every time it decides it needs to fetch the entire data configuration. This could be when the client first loads, after a period of disconnection from the server etc.

The data sources specified in the server configuration must always return a complete and up-to-date picture. In our example docker-compose.yml file, the server is configured to return these data sources directives to the client.

Each data source entry has topics to help control which clients should process it. The default topic is "policy_data" and is used as a default in both the client (for subscription) and the server (for publishing). (If publishing to another topic - make sure the client is subscribed to it by setting the OPAL_DATA_TOPICS envar)

This is what it looks like:


We fetch the /policy-data route on the OPAL server and assign it to the root data document on OPA - i.e: /.

2. Policy-code realtime updates

The OPAL server tracks a git repository and feeds the policy code, or more accurately, .rego files along with static data files like data.json directly to OPA as a policy.


If new commits will be pushed to this repository that affect .rego or data files, the updated policy will be pushed to OPA automatically in realtime by OPAL.

The docker-compose.yml file declares a polling interval to check if new commits are pushed to the repo.


When working in a production environment, we recommend you setup a git webhook from your repo to the OPAL server.

The only reason we are using polling here is because we want the example docker-compose.yml file to work for you as well, and webhooks can only hit a public internet address.

If you are working in a development environment, you can use a reverse proxy like ngrok.

3. Policy-data realtime updates

The OPAL server can push realtime data updates to the client. It offers a REST API that allows you to push updates via the server using a pub/sub channel.

Below is an example why realtime updates are important.

  • Alice just invited Bob to a google drive document.
  • Bob expects to be able to view the document immediately.
  • If your authorization layer is implemented with OPA, you cannot wait for the OPA agent to download a new bundle, it's too slow for live application.
  • Instead you push an update via OPAL and the state of the OPA agent changes immediately.

If you want to learn more about triggering realtime updates via OPAL - please refer to this guide.