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Writing a constraint template

This topic shows how to write a custom constraint template and use it to extend Policy Controller.


Constraint templates can be used to extend Policy Controller. In the case where you cannot find a pre-written template that suits your needs, it is possible to write your own.

Policy Controller policies are described using the OPA Constraint Framework, and written in Rego. A policy can evaluate any field of a Kubernetes object.

Writing policies using Rego is a specialized skill. For this reason, a library of common constraint templates is installed by default. Most users can invoke these constraint templates when creating constraints. If you have specialized needs, you can create your own constraint templates.

Constraint templates allow you to separate a policy's logic from its specific requirements, for reuse and delegation. You can create constraints using constraint templates developed by third parties, such as open source projects, software vendors, or regulatory experts.

Before you begin

Example Constraint Template

Below is an example constraint template that denies all resources whose name matches a value provided by the creator of the constraint. The rest of this page will discuss the contents of the template, highlighting important concepts along the way.

Constraint Template

kind: ConstraintTemplate
  name: k8sdenyname
        kind: K8sDenyName
        # Schema for the `parameters` field
              type: string
    - target:
      rego: |
        package k8sdenynames
        violation[{"msg": msg}] {
 == input.parameters.invalidName
          msg := sprintf("The name %v is not allowed", [input.parameters.invalidName])


Here is an example constraint a user might implement to deny all resources named "policy-violation":

kind: K8sDenyName
  name: no-policy-violation
    invalidName: "policy-violation"

Parts of a Constraint Template

Constraint templates have two important pieces:

  • The schema of the constraint that you want users to create. The schema of a constraint template is stored in the crd field.

  • The Rego source code that is executed when the constraint is evaluated. The Rego source code for a template is stored in the targets field.

The CRD Field

The CRD field is a blueprint for creating the Kubernetes Custom Resource Definition that defines the constraint resource for the Kubernetes API server. You only need to populate the following fields:

  • spec.crd.spec.names.kind is the Kind of the constraint. When lower-cased, the value of this field must be equal to
  • spec.crd.spec.validation.openAPIV3Schema is the schema for the spec.parameters field of the constraint resource (the rest of the constraint's schema is defined automatically by Anthos Config Management). It follows the same conventions as it would in a regular CRD resource. Its definition is documented Kubernetes API documentation.

Prefixing the constraint template with the name "K8s" is a convention that allows us to avoid collisions with other kinds of constraint templates, such as Forseti templates targeting GCP resources.

The Rego Source Code


The Rego source code is stored under the spec.targets field, where targets is an array of objects of format {"target": "", "rego": <REGO SOURCE CODE>, "libs": <LIST OF REGO LIBRARIES>}. Currently, only one entry in targets is allowed.

  • target tells Anthos Config Management what system we are looking at (in this case Kubernetes)
  • rego is the source code for the constraint
  • libs is an optional list of libraries of Rego code that will be made available to the constraint template. It is meant to make it easier to use shared libraries and is out-of-scope for this tutorial.

Source Code

Let's take a look at the Rego for the above constraint:

package k8sdenynames

violation[{"msg": msg}] { == input.parameters.invalidName
   msg := sprintf("The name %v is not allowed", [input.parameters.invalidName])

There are a few items to note here:

  • package k8sdenynames is required by OPA (Rego's runtime). The value is ignored.
  • The Rego rule that Policy Controller invokes to see if there are any violations is called violation. If this rule has matches, a violation of the constraint has occurred.
  • The violation rule has the signature violation[{"msg": "violation message for the user"}], where the value of "msg" is the violation message that will be returned to the user.
  • The parameters provided to the constraint are made available under the keyword input.parameters.
  • The request-under-test is stored under the keyword has the following fields:

  • uid is the unique ID for this particular request, not available during audit
  • kind is the kind information for the object-under-test. It has the format:
    • kind the resource kind
    • group the resource group
    • version the resource version
  • name is the resource name. It may be empty if the user is relying on the API server to generate the name on a CREATE request.
  • namespace is the resource namespace (not provided for cluster-scoped resources)
  • operation is the operation requested (e.g. CREATE or UPDATE), not available during audit.
  • userInfo is the requesting user's information, not available during audit
    • username is the user making the request
    • uid is the user's UID
    • groups is a list of groups the user is a member of
    • extra is any extra user information provided by Kubernetes
  • object is the object the user is attempting to modify/create
  • oldObject is the original state of the object, only available on UPDATE operations
  • dryRun is whether this request was invoked with kubectl --dry-run, not available during audit

Writing Referential Constraint Templates

Referential constraint templates are templates that allow the user to constrain one object with respect to other objects. An example of this might be "don't allow a pod to be created before a matching ingress is known to exist". Another example might be "do not allow two services to have the same hostname".

Policy Controller allows you to write referential constraints by watching the API Server for a user-provided set of resources. When a resource is modified, Policy Controller caches it locally so that it can be easily referenced by Rego source code. Policy Controller makes this cache available under the data.inventory keyword.

Cluster-scoped resources are cached in the following location:


For instance, a Node named my-favorite-node could be found under


Namespace-scoped resources are cached here:


For example, a ConfigMap named production-variables in the namespace shipping-prod could be found under


The full contents of the object are stored at this cache location and can be referenced in your Rego however you see fit.

More Information on Rego

The above information provides the unique features of Policy Controller that make it easy to write constraints on Kubernetes resources in Rego. A full tutorial on how to write in Rego is out-of-scope for this guide. However, the Open Policy Agent website has documentation on the syntax and features of the Rego language itself.

Installing Your Constraint Template

Once you've created your constraint template, simply kubectl apply it and Policy Controller will take care of ingesting it. Be sure to check the status field of your constraint template to make sure there were no errors instantiating it. On successful ingestion, the status field should show created: true and the observedGeneration noted in the status field should equal the metadata.generation field.

Once the template is ingested, you can apply constraints for it as described in Creating constraints.

Removing a Constraint Template

First, verify that no constraints you want to preserve are using the constraint template:

kubectl get [TEMPLATE-NAME]

In case of a naming conflict between the constraint template's name and a different object in the cluster, you can use the following command instead:

kubectl get [TEMPLATE-NAME]

Remove the constraint template:

kubectl delete constrainttemplate [CONSTRAINT-TEMPLATE-NAME]

When you remove a constraint template, you can no longer create constraints that reference it.

What's next?