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MIdPoint 3.5 and later

 This functionality is available in midPoint 3.5 or later.

This feature allows to specify deputies or delegates for users. For example a user that leaves for a vacation can delegate some of his responsibilities to his colleague. That colleague will become his deputy. The deputy will get the same privileges as the user from whom the privileges are delegated. The deputy will get the same privileges in midPoint user interface. The deputy will get the same position in the workflows, e.g. deputy can approve role requests in place of the delegator. The deputy will get accounts and entitlements equivalent to the delegator, e.g. the deputy's accounts will get membership in the same groups as the delegator has.

Terminology and Basic Mechanism

The deputy will get the privileges of the delegator. The delegator is the user giving the privileges. The deputy (or delegate) is the user receiving the privileges. This action is usually initiated by the delegator himself, however it may also be initiated by other user (e.g. system administrator).

The delegations can be limited in both scope and time - and that is actually the common case. The delegations are usually set up only for some subset of delegators privileges and only for a limited time. Obviously, the delegator may only delegate the privileges that he has. There may be many deputies for a single delegator and one user may be a deputy for many delegators.

Only roles, orgs and services that are explicitly marked as delegable can be delegated using the user interface. This is mostly a convenience feature. Users often have tens or even hundreds of assignments, but only few are usually delegated. Therefore the delegable flag allows user interface to reduce the list of roles to a manageable and understandable size.

Delegable roles

Only the roles, orgs and services that are explicitly marked as delegable can be delegated. Non-delegable roles are ignored during delegation - the deputy will not receive the privileges given by these roles. The role, org and service contains a delegable property that controls whether it is delegable or not. The default value for this property is false, therefore the roles must be explicitly marked for delegation for this feature to work.

Workflows and Certification

Workflows and access certification fully support the concept of deputy. The deputies will have access to the workitems that are assigned to their delegators. The deputies can make decisions on these workitems and the decision will advance the workflow (or be recorded in access certification case) as if the delegator made the decision.

The approval schemes and workflow will work well with delegations only if the approvers are defined using the assignment mechanism (available in midPoint 3.5 and later). See Approval page for more details.

Besides providing authorizations to make decisions, deputies will receive mail notifications intended for the delegator reminding him or her that a decision is to be made.

Because the operation of finding all the deputies is currently quite time-consuming, deputy information is not generally shown in the GUI along with approver name. So, if an approval work item is assigned to a user X, it is not displayed that X has (let's say) 3 deputies eligible to approve the given work item.

Implementation Notes

Deputy delegation are in fact assignments. that have special deputy relation in their target reference. Unlike most other assignments the target of deputy relation is not a role or org. The target of deputy relation is a user. This makes perfect sense as the delegation is a relation between two users: the delegator and the deputy.

Maybe quite surprisingly the assignment is created in the deputy->delegator direction. I.e. the assignment is added to the deputy, not the delegator. This may seem counter-intuitive at the first sight, but in fact it is very well aligned with the midPoint philosophy. The assignments always add privileges. And it is the deputy that is getting new privileges, not the delegator. Also when the delegation assignment is created or deleted then the deputy user is affected. Not the delegator. The deputy will get new accounts, new entitlements and privileges. The delegator is not affected. Therefore recording delegations in the deputy makes perfect sense. However it affects the thinking when setting up related midPoint mechanisms. E.g. the meaning of object and target in the authorizations may seem to be reversed as compared to the intuitive approach. But as the delegation assignment itself is "reversed" the authorizations make perfect sense.

The delegation assignment is somehow special. Normal assignment between objects that are already assigned would cause similar effect that is used by metaroles. But the delegation (deputy) assignment does not do this. This assignment is not counted when the high-order inducements are evaluated. In other words: Even though the delegated privileges are assigned to the delegator, they are processed in almost the same way as role inducements when the deputy is evaluated. The deputy assignment is not counted into the "order" for metarole processing. If we would count it, then what is normally order=2 would become order=3. That would break meta-roles.

There is one more thing that needs to be considered when using deputy delegations. The deputy and the delegator are two users that are still considered to be a very independent entities in midPoint. When one user is changed the other one is unlikely to be directly affected because only one focal object is processed in every midPoint operation. Therefore if the assignments of the delegator are changed, the deputy is not directly affected by that operation. The changes are applied to the deputy only when the deputy user is recomputed. The fact that the delegation assignment is part of the deputy user is an advantage here. Therefore adding and removing deputy delegation is acting on the user that it is supposed to act: the deputy. This also means that if the deputy delegation expires it will be automatically handled in the same way as expired assignment and the privileges will be automatically deprovisioned. This design decision together with the fact that the delegations are often short-lived means that there is seldom need for deputy recompute. But there may be cases when this mechanism needs to be considered.

Designing the deputy delegations as assignments gives exciting possibilities for the future. The creation of a delegation may theoretically be approved (this functionality is not there yet, but it is conceptually possible). There are assignment metadata in the delegations. The delegations might be subject to compliance rules and re-certification in the future (as assignments are). And so on.

If there is a need to distinguish between the privileges of a delegator and those of a deputy then it is possible to be defined using order constraints. See Roles, Metaroles and Generic Synchronization page for details.

Security and Authorizations

Deputy delegations are assignments. And they are seen as assignments by the security subsystem. Therefore any authorizations that apply to assignments also apply to deputy delegations. However, using just these authorizations by themselves would not be entirely practical. This is given by the fact that it is usually the delegator that is initiating the delegation. This means that the delegator needs to add assignment to a different user (the deputy). And this is not easy to do with current authorizations. Therefore special delegate authorization was introduced. It can be used like this:

If this authorization is given to the delegator it will allow to delegate his privileges to any user. In other words, this authorization will allow to create new assignment with relation=deputy in the object (user) with the target set to the user who has initiated the operation. Please note that the object and target are the other way around as compared to what intuition may suggest. This is given by the fact that the delegation assignment is also "the other way around".

The authorization above allows the model operations that created and delete deputy delegations. However there still needs to be a user interface authorization that enabled the delegation modification buttons:

http://midpoint.evolveum.com/xml/ns/public/security/authorization-ui-3#delegate

To make things simple there is a pre-defined Delegator role in midPoint. This role allows users to delegate any privileges to any user. This role can be used as a starting point for more fine-tuned delegation setup.

The user interface will only allow abstract roles (roles, orgs and services) that have the delegable flag set to be delegated. This is currently hardcoded in midPoint user interface. Later we would like to use the authorization subsystem to handle this. But currently the authorization subsystem is limited to process just object and target. When processing the delegation authorizations the object is set to the deputy and target is set to delegator. There is no mechanism that allows to also handle the delegated privilege in the authorization decision. Yet.

See Also

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