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Step 4: Publishing a data update via the OPAL Server

The default policy in the example repo is a simple RBAC policy with a twist.

A user is granted access if:

  • One of the roles has permissions for the requested action and resource type.
  • Only users with the location set to US can access the resource.

The reason we added the location to the policy is to show how pushing an update via OPAL with a different "user location" can immediately affect access - demonstrating that realtime updates are needed by most modern applications.

Remember this authorization query we previously run?

curl -w '\n' --request POST 'http://localhost:8181/v1/data/app/rbac/allow' \
--header 'Content-Type: application/json' \
--data-raw '{"input": {"user": "bob", "action": "read", "object": "id123", "type": "finance"}}'

Bob is granted access because the initial data.json location is US.

"bob": {
"roles": ["employee", "billing"],
"location": {
"country": "US",
"ip": ""

Therefore, the result of that query is true. Now, let's push an update via OPAL and see how poor Bob is denied access.

We can push an update via the opal-client CLI. Let's install the CLI to a new python virtualenv.

pyenv virtualenv opaldemo

pyenv activate opaldemo

pip install opal-client

Now, let's use the CLI to push an update to override the user location.

opal-client publish-data-update --src-url -t policy_data --dst-path /users/bob/location

We expect to receive this output from the CLI:

Publishing event:
entries=[DataSourceEntry(url='', config={}, topics=['policy_data'], dst_path='/users/bob/location', save_method='PUT')] reason=''
Event Published Successfully

Now let's issue the same authorization query again.

curl -w '\n' --request POST 'http://localhost:8181/v1/data/app/rbac/allow' \
--header 'Content-Type: application/json' \
--data-raw '{"input": {"user": "bob", "action": "read", "object": "id123", "type": "finance"}}'

And... Bob is denied access.

{"result": false}

So what happened when we published our update with the CLI?

Let's analyze the components of this update. OPAL data updates are built to support your specific use case.

  • You can specify a topic (in our example it was policy_data, which) to target only specific OPAL clients; and by extension specific OPA agents. In our example, we used the policy_data topic which clients listen to by default (it's also the default topic for updates published with no topics specification). Changing this default is only logical if each microservice you have has an OPA sidecar of its own and thus different policy/data needs.

  • OPAL specifies from where to fetch the data that changed. In this example we used a free and open API ( that anyone can access, however, it can be your specific API, or a 3rd-party API.

  • OPAL specifies to where in the OPA document hierarchy the data should be saved - by where, we mean the destination path. In this case we override the /users/bob/location document with the fetched data.