Kerberos authentication

Kerberos authentication uses the following components to perform user authentication.

Kerberos authentication uses the following components to perform user authentication.

Client package

The Kerberos 5 client package communicates with the KDC server. This package is not included as part of the Vertica Analytics Platform installation. Kerberos software is built into Microsoft Windows. If you are using another operating system, you must obtain and install the client package.

If you do not already have the Kerberos 5 client package on your system, download it from the MIT Kerberos Distribution page. Install the package on each Vertica server and client used in Kerberos authentication, except the KDC itself.

Refer to the Kerberos documentation for installation instructions.

Service principals

A service principal consists of a host name, a service name, and a realm to which a set of credentials gets assigned (service/hostname@REALM). These credentials connect to the service, which is a host that you connect to over your network and authenticate using the KDC.

See Specify KDC information and configure realms to create the realm name. The host name must match the value supplied by the operating system. Typically this is the fully qualified host name. If the host name part of your principal does not match the value supplied by the operating system, Kerberos authentication fails.

Some systems use a hosts file (/etc/hosts or /etc/hostnames) to define host names. A hosts file can define more than one name for a host. The operating system supplies the first entry, so use that in your principal. For example, if your hosts file contains: v_vmart_node0001

then use as the hostname value.

Configure the following as Kerberos principals:

  • Each client (users or applications that connects to Vertica)

  • The Vertica server

See the following topics for more information:

Keytab files

Principals are stored in encrypted keytab files. The keytab file contains the credentials for the Vertica principal. The keytab allows the Vertica server to authenticate itself to the KDC. You need the keytab so that Vertica Analytic Database does not have to prompt for a password.

Create one service principal for each node in your cluster. You can then either create individual keytab files (one for each node containing only that node's principal) or create one keytab file containing all the principals.

  • Create one keytab file with all principals to simplify setup: all nodes have the same file, making initial setup easier. If you add nodes later you either update (and redistribute) the global keytab file or make separate keytabs for the new nodes. If a principal is compromised it is compromised on all nodes where it is present in a keytab file.

  • Create separate keytab files on each node to simplify maintenance. Initial setup is more involved as you must create a different file on each node, but no principals are shared across nodes. If you add nodes later you create keytabs on the new nodes. Each node's ke ytab contains only one principal, the one to use for that node.

Ticket-granting ticket

The Ticket-Granting Ticket (TGT) retrieves service tickets that authenticates users to servers in the domain. Future login requests use the cached HTTP Service Ticket for authentication, unless it has expired as set in the ticket_lifetime parameter in krb5.conf.

Multi-realm support

Vertica provides multi-realm support for Kerberos authentication using the SET param=value parameter in ALTER AUTHENTICATION with REALM as the parameter:


This allows you to assign a different realm so that users from another realm can authenticate to Vertica.

Mutli-realm support applies to GSS authentication types only. You can have one realm per authentication method. If you have multiple authentication methods, each can have its own realm:

=> SELECT * FROM client_auth;
auth_oid | auth_name | is_auth_enabled | auth_host_type | auth_host_address | auth_method | auth_parameters     | auth_priority
45035996 | krb001    |   True          |   HOST         |        |  GSS        | realm=USERS.COM     |  0
45035997 | user_auth |   True          |   LOCAL        |                   |  TRUST      |                     |  1000
45035737 | krb002    |   True          |   HOST         |        |  GSS        | realm=REALM_AD.COM  |  1