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Service Authentication


To access the data storage in the Resource Tree and/or the JCR Repository authentication is required to properly setup access control and guard sensitive data from unauthorized access. For regular request processing this authentication step is handled by the Sling Authentication subsystem.

On the other hand there are also some background tasks to be executed with access to the resources. Such tasks cannot in general be configured with user names and passwords: Neither hard coding the passwords in the code nor having the passwords in – more or less – plain text in some configuration is considered good practice.

To solve this problem for services to identify themselves and authenticate with special users properly configured to support those services.

The solution presented here serves the following goals:


A Service is a piece or collection of functionality. Examples of services are the Sling queuing system, Tenant Administration, or some Message Transfer System. Each service is identified by a unique Service Name. Since a service will be implemented in an OSGi bundle (or a collection of OSGi bundles), services are named by the bundles providing them.

A Service may be comprised of multiple parts, so each part of the service may be further identified by a Subservice Name. This Subservice Name is optional, though. Examples of Subservice Name are names for subsystems in a Message Transfer System such as accepting messages, queueing messages, delivering messages.

Ultimately, the combination of the Service Name and Subservice Name defines the Service ID. It is the Service ID which is finally mapped to a Resource Resolver and/or JCR Repository user ID for authentication.

Thus the actual service identification (service ID) is defined as:

service-id = service-name [ ":" subservice-name ] .

The service-name is the symbolic name of the bundle providing the service.

Example: Tenant Administration

Tenant Administration mostly deals with creating and managing groups and some other user administration tasks. Instead of just using an administrative session for Tenant administration this feature could define itself as being the tenant-admin service and leverage a properly configured Tenant Administration account.

Example: Mail Transfer System

Consider a Mail Transfer System which may be comprised of the following sub systems:

You could conceive that all these functions serve different purposes and thus should have different access rights to the repository to persist messages while they are being processed.

Using the Service Authentication framework, the Mail Transfer System would be consituting the mta service. The sub systems would be called smtp, queue, and deliver.

Thus the SMTP server daemon would be represented by a user for the mta:smtp Service. queueing with mta:queue, and delivery with mta:deliver.


The implementation in Sling of the Service Authentication concept described above consists of three parts:


The first part is a new OSGi Service ServiceUserMapper. The ServiceUserMapper service allows for mapping Service IDs comprised of the Service Names defined by the providing bundles and optional Subservice Name to ResourceResolver and/or JCR Repository user IDs. This mapping is configurable such that system administrators are in full control of assigning users to services.

The ServiceUserMapper defines the following API:

String getServiceUserID(Bundle bundle, String subServiceName);


The second part is support for service access to the Resource Tree. To this avail, the ResourceResolverFactory service is enhanced with a new factory method

ResourceResolver getServiceResourceResolver(Map<String, Object> authenticationInfo)
    throws LoginException;

This method allows for access to the resource tree for services where the service bundle is the bundle actually using the ResourceResolverFactory service. The optional Subservice Name may be provided as an entry in the authenticationInfo map.

In addition to having new API on the ResourceResolverFactory service to be used by services, the ResourceProviderFactory service is updated with support for Service Authentication: Now new API is required, though but additional properties are defined to convey the service to authenticate for.


The third part is an extension to the SlingRepositoryservice interface to support JCR Repository access for services:

Session loginService(String subServiceName, String workspace)
    throws LoginException, RepositoryException;

This method allows for access to the JCR Repository for services where the service bundle is the bundle actually using the SlingRepository service. The additional Subservice Name may be provided with the subServiceName parameter.

Deprecation of administrative authentication

Originally the ResourceResolverFactory.getAdministrativeResourceResolver and SlingRepository.loginAdministrative methods have been defined to provide access to the resource tree and JCR Repository. These methods proved to be inappropriate because they allow for much too broad access.

Consequently these methods are being deprecated and will be removed in future releases of the service implementations.

The following methods are deprecated:

The implementations we have in Sling's bundle will remain implemented in the near future. But there will be a configuration switch to disable support for these methods: If the method is disabled, a LoginException is always thrown from these methods. The JavaDoc of the methods is extended with this information.

Rev. 1562473 by cziegeler on Wed, 29 Jan 2014 15:13:34 +0000
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