Ambassador can authenticate incoming requests before routing them to a backing service. In this tutorial, we'll configure Ambassador to use an external third party authentication service.

Before you get started

This tutorial assumes you have already followed the Ambassador Getting Started. If you haven't done that already, go do that now.

1. Deploy third party authentication service

Ambassador delegates the actual authentication logic to a third party authentication service. We've written a simple authentication service that:

  • listens for requests on port 3000;
  • expects all URLs to begin with /extauth/;
  • performs HTTP Basic Auth for all URLs starting with /qotm/quote/ (other URLs are always permitted);
  • accepts only user username, password password; and
  • makes sure that the x-qotm-session header is present, generating a new one if needed.

Deploy the auth service in Kubernetes:

kubectl apply -f

2. Configure Ambassador authentication

Now, we configure Ambassador to use the authentication service. Once the auth service is running, add the following to the end of your existing mapping-qotm.yaml file:

apiVersion: ambassador/v0
kind:  Module
name:  authentication
  auth_service: "example-auth:3000"
  path_prefix: "/extauth"
  - "x-qotm-session"

This configuration tells Ambassador about the auth service, notably that it needs the /extauth prefix, and that it's OK for it to pass back the x-qotm-session header. Note that path_prefix and allowed_headers are optional.

3. Update the ConfigMap

We need to update the ConfigMap with the new configuration.

$ kubectl create configmap ambassador-config --from-file mapping-qotm.yaml -o yaml --dry-run | \
    kubectl replace -f -

4. Update Ambassador

We use Kubernetes to do a rolling update (zero downtime) of Ambassador. We do this by updating an annotation on the deployment:

$ kubectl patch deployment ambassador -p \
  "{\"spec\":{\"template\":{\"metadata\":{\"annotations\":{\"date\":\"`date +'%s'`\"}}}}}"

5. Test authentication

If we curl to a protected URL:

$ curl -v $AMBASSADORURL/qotm/quote/1

We get a 401, since we haven't authenticated.

HTTP/1.1 401 Unauthorized
x-powered-by: Express
x-request-id: 9793dec9-323c-4edf-bc30-352141b0a5e5
www-authenticate: Basic realm=\"Ambassador Realm\"
content-type: text/html; charset=utf-8
content-length: 0
etag: W/\"0-2jmj7l5rSw0yVb/vlWAYkK/YBwk\"
date: Fri, 15 Sep 2017 15:22:09 GMT
x-envoy-upstream-service-time: 2
server: envoy

If we authenticate to the service, we will get a quote successfully:

$ curl -v -u username:password $AMBASSADORURL/qotm/quote/1

* Connected to ( port 80 (#0)
* Server auth using Basic with user \'username\'
> GET /qotm/quote/1 HTTP/1.1
> Host:
> Authorization: Basic dXNlcm5hbWU6cGFzc3dvcmQ=
> User-Agent: curl/7.54.0
> Accept: */*
< HTTP/1.1 200 OK
< content-type: application/json
< x-qotm-session: 069da5de-5433-46c0-a8de-d266e327d451
< content-length: 172
< server: envoy
< date: Wed, 27 Sep 2017 18:53:38 GMT
< x-envoy-upstream-service-time: 25
 \"hostname\": \"qotm-1827164760-gf534\",
 \"ok\": true,
 \"quote\": \"A late night does not make any sense.\",
 \"time\": \"2017-09-27T18:53:39.376073\",
 \"version\": \"1.1\"


For more details about configuring authentication, read the documentation on external authentication.

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