When an OKD cluster running on AWS is in Security Token Service (STS) mode, it means the cluster is utilizing features of AWS and OKD to use IAM roles at an application level. STS enables applications to provide a JSON Web Token (JWT) that can assume an IAM role.

The JWT includes an Amazon Resource Name (ARN) for the sts:AssumeRoleWithWebIdentity IAM action to allow temporarily-granted permission for the service account. The JWT contains the signing keys for the ProjectedServiceAccountToken that AWS IAM can validate. The service account token itself, which is signed, is used as the JWT required for assuming the AWS role.

The Cloud Credential Operator (CCO) is a cluster Operator installed by default in OKD clusters running on cloud providers. For the purposes of STS, the CCO provides the following functions:

  • Detects when it is running on an STS-enabled cluster

  • Checks for the presence of fields in the CredentialsRequest object that provide the required information for granting Operators access to AWS resources

The CCO performs this detection even when in manual mode. When properly configured, the CCO projects a Secret object with the required access information into the Operator namespace.

Starting in OKD 4.14, the CCO can semi-automate this task through an expanded use of CredentialsRequest objects, which can request the creation of Secrets that contain the information required for STS workflows. Users can provide a role ARN when installing the Operator from either the web console or CLI.

Subscriptions with automatic update approvals are not recommended because there might be permission changes to make prior to updating. Subscriptions with manual update approvals ensure that administrators have the opportunity to verify the permissions of the later version and take any necessary steps prior to update.

As an Operator author preparing an Operator for use alongside the updated CCO in OKD 4.14 or later, you should instruct users and add code to handle the divergence from earlier CCO versions, in addition to handling STS token authentication (if your Operator is not already STS-enabled). The recommended method is to provide a CredentialsRequest object with correctly filled STS-related fields and let the CCO create the Secret for you.

If you plan to support OKD clusters earlier than version 4.14, consider providing users with instructions on how to manually create a secret with the STS-enabling information by using the CCO utility (ccoctl). Earlier CCO versions are unaware of STS mode on the cluster and cannot create secrets for you.

Your code should check for secrets that never appear and warn users to follow the fallback instructions you have provided. For more information, see the "Alternative method" subsection.

Enabling Operators to support CCO-based workflows with AWS STS

As an Operator author designing your project to run on Operator Lifecycle Manager (OLM), you can enable your Operator to authenticate against AWS on STS-enabled OKD clusters by customizing your project to support the Cloud Credential Operator (CCO).

With this method, the Operator is responsible for creating the CredentialsRequest object, which means the Operator requires RBAC permission to create these objects. Then, the Operator must be able to read the resulting Secret object.

By default, pods related to the Operator deployment mount a serviceAccountToken volume so that the service account token can be referenced in the resulting Secret object.

  • OKD 4.14 or later

  • Cluster in STS mode

  • OLM-based Operator project

  1. Update your Operator project’s ClusterServiceVersion (CSV) object:

    1. Ensure your Operator has RBAC permission to create CredentialsRequests objects:

      Example clusterPermissions list
      # ...
          - rules:
            - apiGroups:
              - "cloudcredential.openshift.io"
              - credentialsrequests
              - create
              - delete
              - get
              - list
              - patch
              - update
              - watch
    2. Add the following annotation to claim support for this method of CCO-based workflow with AWS STS:

      # ...
         features.operators.openshift.io/token-auth-aws: "true"
  2. Update your Operator project code:

    1. Get the role ARN from the environment variable set on the pod by the Subscription object. For example:

      // Get ENV var
      roleARN := os.Getenv("ROLEARN")
      setupLog.Info("getting role ARN", "role ARN = ", roleARN)
      webIdentityTokenPath := "/var/run/secrets/openshift/serviceaccount/token"
    2. Ensure you have a CredentialsRequest object ready to be patched and applied. For example:

      Example CredentialsRequest object creation
      import (
         minterv1 "github.com/openshift/cloud-credential-operator/pkg/apis/cloudcredential/v1"
         corev1 "k8s.io/api/core/v1"
         metav1 "k8s.io/apimachinery/pkg/apis/meta/v1"
      var in = minterv1.AWSProviderSpec{
         StatementEntries: []minterv1.StatementEntry{
               Action: []string{
               Effect:   "Allow",
               Resource: "arn:aws:s3:*:*:*",
      	STSIAMRoleARN: "<role_arn>",
      var codec = minterv1.Codec
      var ProviderSpec, _ = codec.EncodeProviderSpec(in.DeepCopyObject())
      const (
         name      = "<credential_request_name>"
         namespace = "<namespace_name>"
      var CredentialsRequestTemplate = &minterv1.CredentialsRequest{
         ObjectMeta: metav1.ObjectMeta{
             Name:      name,
             Namespace: "openshift-cloud-credential-operator",
         Spec: minterv1.CredentialsRequestSpec{
            ProviderSpec: ProviderSpec,
            SecretRef: corev1.ObjectReference{
               Name:      "<secret_name>",
               Namespace: namespace,
            ServiceAccountNames: []string{
            CloudTokenPath:   "",

      Alternatively, if you are starting from a CredentialsRequest object in YAML form (for example, as part of your Operator project code), you can handle it differently:

      Example CredentialsRequest object creation in YAML form
      // CredentialsRequest is a struct that represents a request for credentials
      type CredentialsRequest struct {
        APIVersion string `yaml:"apiVersion"`
        Kind       string `yaml:"kind"`
        Metadata   struct {
           Name      string `yaml:"name"`
           Namespace string `yaml:"namespace"`
        } `yaml:"metadata"`
        Spec struct {
           SecretRef struct {
              Name      string `yaml:"name"`
              Namespace string `yaml:"namespace"`
           } `yaml:"secretRef"`
           ProviderSpec struct {
              APIVersion     string `yaml:"apiVersion"`
              Kind           string `yaml:"kind"`
              StatementEntries []struct {
                 Effect   string   `yaml:"effect"`
                 Action   []string `yaml:"action"`
                 Resource string   `yaml:"resource"`
              } `yaml:"statementEntries"`
              STSIAMRoleARN   string `yaml:"stsIAMRoleARN"`
           } `yaml:"providerSpec"`
           // added new field
            CloudTokenPath   string `yaml:"cloudTokenPath"`
        } `yaml:"spec"`
      // ConsumeCredsRequestAddingTokenInfo is a function that takes a YAML filename and two strings as arguments
      // It unmarshals the YAML file to a CredentialsRequest object and adds the token information.
      func ConsumeCredsRequestAddingTokenInfo(fileName, tokenString, tokenPath string) (*CredentialsRequest, error) {
        // open a file containing YAML form of a CredentialsRequest
        file, err := os.Open(fileName)
        if err != nil {
           return nil, err
        defer file.Close()
        // create a new CredentialsRequest object
        cr := &CredentialsRequest{}
        // decode the yaml file to the object
        decoder := yaml.NewDecoder(file)
        err = decoder.Decode(cr)
        if err != nil {
           return nil, err
        // assign the string to the existing field in the object
        cr.Spec.CloudTokenPath = tokenPath
        // return the modified object
        return cr, nil

      Adding a CredentialsRequest object to the Operator bundle is not currently supported.

    3. Add the role ARN and web identity token path to the credentials request and apply it during Operator initialization:

      Example applying CredentialsRequest object during Operator initialization
      // apply credentialsRequest on install
      credReq := credreq.CredentialsRequestTemplate
      credReq.Spec.CloudTokenPath = webIdentityTokenPath
      c := mgr.GetClient()
      if err := c.Create(context.TODO(), credReq); err != nil {
         if !errors.IsAlreadyExists(err) {
            setupLog.Error(err, "unable to create CredRequest")
    4. Ensure your Operator can wait for a Secret object to show up from the CCO, as shown in the following example, which is called along with the other items you are reconciling in your Operator:

      Example wait for Secret object
      // WaitForSecret is a function that takes a Kubernetes client, a namespace, and a v1 "k8s.io/api/core/v1" name as arguments
      // It waits until the secret object with the given name exists in the given namespace
      // It returns the secret object or an error if the timeout is exceeded
      func WaitForSecret(client kubernetes.Interface, namespace, name string) (*v1.Secret, error) {
        // set a timeout of 10 minutes
        timeout := time.After(10 * time.Minute) (1)
        // set a polling interval of 10 seconds
        ticker := time.NewTicker(10 * time.Second)
        // loop until the timeout or the secret is found
        for {
           select {
           case <-timeout:
              // timeout is exceeded, return an error
              return nil, fmt.Errorf("timed out waiting for secret %s in namespace %s", name, namespace)
                 // add to this error with a pointer to instructions for following a manual path to a Secret that will work on STS
           case <-ticker.C:
              // polling interval is reached, try to get the secret
              secret, err := client.CoreV1().Secrets(namespace).Get(context.Background(), name, metav1.GetOptions{})
              if err != nil {
                 if errors.IsNotFound(err) {
                    // secret does not exist yet, continue waiting
                 } else {
                    // some other error occurred, return it
                    return nil, err
              } else {
                 // secret is found, return it
                 return secret, nil
      1 The timeout value is based on an estimate of how fast the CCO might detect an added CredentialsRequest object and generate a Secret object. You might consider lowering the time or creating custom feedback for cluster administrators that could be wondering why the Operator is not yet accessing the cloud resources.
    5. Set up the AWS configuration by reading the secret created by the CCO from the credentials request and creating the AWS config file containing the data from that secret:

      Example AWS configuration creation
      func SharedCredentialsFileFromSecret(secret *corev1.Secret) (string, error) {
         var data []byte
         switch {
         case len(secret.Data["credentials"]) > 0:
             data = secret.Data["credentials"]
             return "", errors.New("invalid secret for aws credentials")
         f, err := ioutil.TempFile("", "aws-shared-credentials")
         if err != nil {
             return "", errors.Wrap(err, "failed to create file for shared credentials")
         defer f.Close()
         if _, err := f.Write(data); err != nil {
             return "", errors.Wrapf(err, "failed to write credentials to %s", f.Name())
         return f.Name(), nil

      The secret is assumed to exist, but your Operator code should wait and retry when using this secret to give time to the CCO to create the secret.

      Additionally, the wait period should eventually time out and warn users that the OKD cluster version, and therefore the CCO, might be an earlier version that does not support the CredentialsRequest object workflow with STS detection. In such cases, instruct users that they must add a secret by using another method.

    6. Configure the AWS SDK session, for example:

      Example AWS SDK session configuration
      sharedCredentialsFile, err := SharedCredentialsFileFromSecret(secret)
      if err != nil {
         // handle error
      options := session.Options{
         SharedConfigState: session.SharedConfigEnable,
         SharedConfigFiles: []string{sharedCredentialsFile},

Role specification

The Operator description should contain the specifics of the role required to be created before installation, ideally in the form of a script that the administrator can run. For example:

Example role creation script
set -x

AWS_ACCOUNT_ID=$(aws sts get-caller-identity --query "Account" --output text)
OIDC_PROVIDER=$(oc get authentication cluster -ojson | jq -r .spec.serviceAccountIssuer | sed -e "s/^https:\/\///")

 "Version": "2012-10-17",
 "Statement": [
     "Effect": "Allow",
     "Principal": {
       "Federated": "arn:aws:iam::${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}:oidc-provider/${OIDC_PROVIDER}"
     "Action": "sts:AssumeRoleWithWebIdentity",
     "Condition": {
       "StringEquals": {
         "${OIDC_PROVIDER}:sub": "system:serviceaccount:${NAMESPACE}:${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME}"

echo "${TRUST_RELATIONSHIP}" > trust.json

aws iam create-role --role-name "$SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME" --assume-role-policy-document file://trust.json --description "role for demo"

while IFS= read -r POLICY_ARN; do
   echo -n "Attaching $POLICY_ARN ... "
   aws iam attach-role-policy \
       --role-name "$SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME" \
       --policy-arn "${POLICY_ARN}"
   echo "ok."


Authentication failure

If authentication was not successful, ensure you can assume the role with web identity by using the token provided to the Operator.

  1. Extract the token from the pod:

    $ oc exec operator-pod -n <namespace_name> \
        -- cat /var/run/secrets/openshift/serviceaccount/token
  2. Extract the role ARN from the pod:

    $ oc exec operator-pod -n <namespace_name> \
        -- cat /<path>/<to>/<secret_name> (1)
    1 Do not use root for the path.
  3. Try assuming the role with the web identity token:

    $ aws sts assume-role-with-web-identity \
        --role-arn $ROLEARN \
        --role-session-name <session_name> \
        --web-identity-token $TOKEN

Secret not mounting correctly

Pods that run as non-root users cannot write to the /root directory where the AWS shared credentials file is expected to exist by default. If the secret is not mounting correctly to the AWS credentials file path, consider mounting the secret to a different location and enabling the shared credentials file option in the AWS SDK.

Alternative method

As an alternative method for Operator authors, you can indicate that the user is responsible for creating the CredentialsRequest object for the Cloud Credential Operator (CCO) before installing the Operator.

The Operator instructions must indicate the following to users:

  • Provide a YAML version of a CredentialsRequest object, either by providing the YAML inline in the instructions or pointing users to a download location

  • Instruct the user to create the CredentialsRequest object

In OKD 4.14 and later, after the CredentialsRequest object appears on the cluster with the appropriate STS information added, the Operator can then read the CCO-generated Secret or mount it, having defined the mount in the cluster service version (CSV).

For earlier versions of OKD, the Operator instructions must also indicate the following to users:

  • Use the CCO utility (ccoctl) to generate the Secret YAML object from the CredentialsRequest object

  • Apply the Secret object to the cluster in the appropriate namespace

The Operator still must be able to consume the resulting secret to communicate with cloud APIs. Because in this case the secret is created by the user before the Operator is installed, the Operator can do either of the following:

  • Define an explicit mount in the Deployment object within the CSV

  • Programmatically read the Secret object from the API server, as shown in the recommended "Enabling Operators to support CCO-based workflows with AWS STS" method