Useful (perhaps) Openstack API tricks for enabling more automation

How to obtain information otherwise unavailable directly from the Openstack API

Jarle Bjørgeengen

Jarle Bjørgeengen

Chief Product Officer

Safespring promote as much automation as possible using standard tools like Terraform and Ansible. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to dig one step deeper in order to find some missing pieces of information in order to create a complete automation.

Introduction (Problem statement)

In the Safespring platform, the S3 compatible storage service and the OpenStack based compute service are now integrated. It means that once you have access to the compute platform you also can fetch credentials for accessing the integrated S3 service through the web GUI and/or the command line interface (CLI).

Openshift installer

We have created an Openshift installer that makes it easy to install Openshift on Safespring by wrapping some tooling around the official UPI installer.

This installer requires an S3 bucket in order to place the ignition file of the boot node, because the file is too big to send directly to the OpenStack API as user_data. Instead, the installer presigns an S3 object and instructs the ignition file for the bootstrap node to fetch the «real» ignition file from that URL. Long story short; the installer must have an s3 bucket and credentials for it in order to work.

The Openshift installer was created before Safespring had S3 integrated into the compute service and it was a bit cumbersome that the installer depended on a manually maintained S3 service, which was the method used previously.

Fetch credentials

Now that S3 is integrated the installer should automatically fetch credentials and S3 endpoint URL and create a bucket, upload the ignition file to the bucket, presign it and inject the presign url into the ignition file for the bootstrap node.

This blog post describes the learning points (which can be useful in other automation contexts) from the process that led up to the installer change.

Fetching information with the command line interface (CLI)

In order to upload, and subsequently download using the presign method, need to obtain three pieces of information programmatically: the S3 access key, the S3 secret key, and the S3 endpoint URL. I expected that this would be trivial, and for the S3 access key and the S3 secret key, this was true. It is as simple as:

$ export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID="$(openstack ec2 credential list -c Access  -f value)"
$ export AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY="$(openstack ec2 credential list -c Secret  -f value)"

So, in order to automatically use the integrated S3 service we only need one more piece of information: the S3 service endpoint URL. Should be just as easy, right ? Wrong! Well, once you know how to do it’s not that bad actually.

Fetching S3 endpoint URL using curl and the Openstack API

Let’s start with the pure API approach in order to understand what is going on. These examples are heavily inspired by the Openstack API curl examples.

First we’ll authenticate using project scope. Let’s create a shell function for presenting JSON data to POST with curl later:

function gen_os_auth_data_project_scope {
cat <<EOF
{ "auth": {
    "identity": {
      "methods": ["password"],
      "password": {
        "user": {
          "name": "${OS_USERNAME}",
          "domain": { "name": "${OS_USER_DOMAIN_NAME}"},
          "password": "${OS_PASSWORD}"
    "scope": {
      "project": {
        "domain": { "name": "${OS_PROJECT_DOMAIN_NAME}" },
        "name": "${OS_PROJECT_NAME}"

For this function to work you must make sure the environment variables in the function are properly set before usage (in the same way as you would when using the Openstack CLI or Terraform)..

Next, we’ll use curl to fetch some JSON data from the OpenStack API:

$ curl  -s -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d"$(gen_os_auth_data_project_scope)" "${OS_AUTH_URL}/auth/tokens"

The environment variable OS_AUTH_URL contains the same as you would put when using the OpenStack CLI. The command above will give you what the OpenStack CLI transparently uses to find endpoints for all the Openstack services that the OS_AUTH_URL «announces», the service catalog, together with a short lived token for accessing them. Feel free to explore the data structure at will, but for now, we are only interested in our missing piece of information: the S3 endpoint URL which should be the same as the one listed in the GUI under «API Access / view credentials».

So to get exactly that, we can do:

curl  -s -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d"$(gen_os_auth_data_project_scope)" "${OS_AUTH_URL}/auth/tokens"|jq '.token.catalog[]|select(.type=="s3").endpoints[0].url' -r

Now we have seen how to get the S3 endpoint URL when authenticating as an OpenStack personal user. However, the recommended way of authenticating with OpenStack from scripts, or any form of automation code, is to use OpenStack application credentials. Application credentials allow access only to the project it was created in. Personal credentials may have much wider access and hence it comprises a much bigger impact if breached. Application credentials are easy to rotate and (should) have a different (shorter) life cycle than your personal credentials, and last but not least, when using application credentials you don’t risk expose your personal credentials when using them from runninge code.

So let’s see how we can get the S3 endpoint URL authenticating with a set of application credentials. The procedure is not much different. The difference is that we’ll now authenticate with the «global scope». Like this:

function gen_os_auth_data_appcred_global_scope {
cat <<EOF
{ "auth": {
    "identity": {
      "methods": ["application_credential"],
      "application_credential": {

You must of course again set the environment variables accordingly with the information from creating the application credentials. Otherwise, it is the same:

curl  -s -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d"$(gen_os_auth_data_appcred_global_scope)" "${OS_AUTH_URL}/auth/tokens"|jq '.token.catalog[]|select(.type=="s3").endpoints[0].url' -r

Fetching the S3 endpoint URL using Python or Ansible

It is also possible to get the service catalog both directly from Python using the OpenStack Python SDK and with Ansible.

To get the S3 endpoint URL using the Python SDK you can do this:

# cloud is an entry in your clouds.yaml containing the other necessary parameters for talking to the Openstack API
conn = openstack.connect(cloud=cloud, username=os.environ['OS_USERNAME'], password=os.environ['OS_PASSWORD'])

To get the S3 endpoint URL using Ansible you can do this:

  - name: Authenticate to the cloud and retrieve the service catalog

    - name: Set fact, s3 endpoint
        s3_endpoint_url: "{{ item }}"
      loop: "{{ service_catalog|community.general.json_query('[?type==`s3`].endpoints[0].url') }}"

The service_catalog is populated with data by the module, and the value of the S3 endpoint URL is fetched from it by looping over the list of endpoints for the S3 service (which in our case only contains one element), by using the Jinja filter community.general.json_query.

This require that your environment and/or clouds.yaml/secure.yaml contain the necessary information; the same as if you would use the OpenStack CLI.