AWS Big Data Blog

Role-based access control in Amazon OpenSearch Service via SAML integration with AWS IAM Identity Center

Amazon OpenSearch Service is a managed service that makes it simple to secure, deploy, and operate OpenSearch clusters at scale in the AWS Cloud. AWS IAM Identity Center (successor to AWS Single Sign-On) helps you securely create or connect your workforce identities and manage their access centrally across AWS accounts and applications. To build a strong least-privilege security posture, customers also wanted fine-grained access control to manage dashboard permission by user role. In this post, we demonstrate a step-by-step procedure to implement IAM Identity Center to OpenSearch Service via native SAML integration, and configure role-based access control in OpenSearch Dashboards by using group attributes in IAM Identity Center. You can follow the steps in this post to achieve both authentication and authorization for OpenSearch Service based on the groups configured in IAM Identity Center.

Solution overview

Let’s review how to map users and groups in IAM Identity Center to OpenSearch Service security roles. Backend roles in OpenSearch Service are used to map external identities or attributes of workgroups to pre-defined OpenSearch Service security roles.

The following diagram shows the solution architecture. Create two groups, assign a user to each group and edit attribute mappings in IAM Identity Center. If you have integrated IAM Identity Center with your Identity Provider (IdP), you can use existing users and groups mapped to your IdP for this test. The solution uses two roles: all_access for administrators, and alerting_full_access for developers who are only allowed to manage OpenSearch Service alerts. You can set up backend role mapping in OpenSearch Dashboards by group ID. Based on the following diagram, you can map the role all_access to the group Admin, and alerting_full_access to Developer. User janedoe is in the group Admin, and user johnstiles is in the group Developer.

Then you will log in as each user to verify the access control by looking at the different dashboard views.

Let’s get started!


Complete the following prerequisite steps:

  1. Have an AWS account.
  2. Have an Amazon OpenSearch Service domain.
  3. Enable IAM Identity Center in the same Region as the OpenSearch Service domain.
  4. Test your users in IAM Identity Center (to create users, refer to Add users).

Enable SAML in Amazon OpenSearch Service and copy SAML parameters

To configure SAML in OpenSearch Service, complete the following steps:

  1. On the OpenSearch Service console, choose Domains in the navigation pane.
  2. Choose your domain.
  3. On the Security configuration tab, confirm that Fine-grained access control is enabled.
  4. On the Actions menu, choose Edit security configuration.
  5. Select Enable SAML authentication.

You can also configure SAML during domain creation if you are creating a new OpenSearch domain. For more information, refer to SAML authentication for OpenSearch Dashboards.

  1. Copy the values for Service provider entity ID and IdP-Initiated SSO URL.

Create a SAML application in IAM Identity Center

To create a SAML application in IAM Identity Center, complete the following steps:

  1. On the IAM Identity Center console, choose Applications in the navigation pane.
  2. Choose Add application.
  3. Select Add customer SAML 2.0 application, then choose Next.
  4. Enter your application name for Display name.
  5. Under IAM Identity Center metadata, choose Download to download the SAML metadata file.
  6. Under Application metadata, select Manually type your metadata values.
  7. For Application ACS URL, enter the IdP-initiated URL you copied earlier.
  8. For Application SAML audience, enter the service provider entity ID you copied earlier.
  9. Choose Submit.
  10. On the Actions menu, choose Edit attribute mappings.
  11. Create attributes and map the following values:
    1. Subject map to ${user:email}, the format is emailAddress.
    2. Role map to ${user:groups}, the format is unspecified.
  12. Choose Save changes.
  13. On the IAM Identity Center console, choose Groups in the navigation pane.
  14. Create two groups: Developer and Admin. And assign the two groups to the SAML application we just created.

  15. Assign user janedoe to the group Admin.

  16. Assign user johnstiles to the group Developer.

  17. Open the Admin group and copy the group ID.

Finish SAML configuration and map the SAML primary backend role

To complete your SAML configuration and map the SAML primary backend role, complete the following steps:

  1. On the OpenSearch Service console, choose Domains in the navigation pane.
  2. Open your domain and choose Edit security configuration.
  3. Under SAML authentication for OpenSearch Dashboards/Kibana, for Import IdP metadata, choose Import from XML file.
  4. Upload the IdP metadata downloaded from the IAM Identity Center metadata file.

The IdP entity ID will be auto populated.

  1. Under SAML master backend role, enter the group ID of the Admin group you copied earlier.
  2. For Roles key, enter Role for the SAML assertion.

This is because we defined and mapped Role to ${user:groups} as a SAML attribute in IAM Identity Center.

  1. Choose Save changes.

Configure backend role mapping for the Developer group

You have completely integrated IAM Identity Center with OpenSearch Service and mapped the Admin group as the primary role (all_access) in OpenSearch Service. Now you will log in to OpenSearch Dashboards as Admin and configure mapping for the Developer group.

There are two ways to log in to OpenSearch Dashboards:

  • OpenSearch Dashboards URL – On the OpenSearch Service console, navigate to your domain and choose the Dashboards URL under General Information. (For example,
  • AWS access portal URL – On the IAM Identity Center console, choose Dashboard in the navigation pane and choose the access portal URL under Settings summary. (For example,

Complete the following steps:

  1. Log in as the user in the Admin group (janedoe).
  2. Choose the tile for your OpenSearch Service application to be redirected to OpenSearch Dashboards.
  3. Choose the menu icon, then choose Security, Roles.
  4. Choose the alerting_full_access role and on the Mapped users tab, choose Manage mapping.
  5. For Backend roles, enter the group ID of Developer.
  6. Choose Map to apply the change.

Now you have successfully mapped the Developer group to the alerting_full_access role in OpenSearch Service.

Verify permissions

To verify permissions, complete the following steps:

  1. Log out of the Admin account in OpenSearch Service as log in as a Developer user.
  2. Choose the OpenSearch Service application tile to be redirected to OpenSearch Dashboards.

You can see there are only alerting related features available on the drop-down menu. This Developer user can’t see all of the Admin features, such as Security.

Clean up

After you test the solution, remember to delete all of the resources you created to avoid incurring future charges:

  1. Delete your Amazon OpenSearch Service domain.
  2. Delete the SAML application, users, and groups in IAM Identity Center.


In the post, we walked through a solution of how to map roles in Amazon OpenSearch Service to groups in IAM Identity Center by using SAML attributes to achieve role-based access control for accessing OpenSearch Dashboards. We connected IAM Identity Center users to OpenSearch Dashboards, and also mapped predefined OpenSearch Service security roles to IAM Identity Center groups based on group attributes. This makes it easier to manage permissions without updating the mapping when new users belonging to the same workgroup want to log in to OpenSearch Dashboards. You can follow the same procedure to provide fine-grained access to workgroups based on team functions or compliance requirements.

About the Authors

Scott Chang is a Solutions Architect at AWS based in San Francisco. He has over 14 years of hands-on experience in Networking also familiar with Security and Site Reliability Engineering. He works with one of major strategic customers in west region to design highly scalable, innovative and secure cloud solutions.

Muthu Pitchaimani is a Search Specialist with Amazon OpenSearch service. He builds large scale search applications and solutions. Muthu is interested in the topics of networking and security and is based out of Austin, Texas