Secrets management overview#

Phalanx is a public repository on GitHub, nevertheless application configurations generally require some secrets such as random numbers, certificates, or passwords. This page explains how secrets are managed in Phalanx with Vault, 1Password, and Vault Secrets Operator.


Argo CD allows all application configurations to be checked into Git and deployed from that repository. However, many application configurations require some secrets such as random numbers, certificates, or passwords. These obviously cannot be committed to a public repository. We instead use Vault to store secrets and then materialize them in Kubernetes using vault-secrets-operator.

Helm charts that need secrets use VaultSecret resources with the name matching the Secret resource to create. Those VaultSecret resources are configured with the path in Vault to the secret. That path, in turn, is configured in the Helm per-environment values files for those applications.

Most Rubin Science Platform installations use the Vault server at, which is managed using Roundtable.

Each installation environment has its own root path in that Vault server. The path is formatted as k8s_operator/<fqdn> where <fqdn> is the domain name of that environment. When the environment is bootstrapped, it is given a Kubernetes secret with the Vault token required to read that path of Vault. See DMTN-122 for more information about that Vault instance and its naming conventions.


While Kubernetes and Argo CD do not look beyond Vault, Vault is not the source of truth for persistent secrets for Rubin Science Platform environments maintained by SQuaRE. Secrets for external applications or which for whatever reason cannot be randomly regenerated when the environment is reinstalled are stored in 1Password.

Inside 1Password, there is a vault named RSP-Vault that contains all of the persistent secrets. Each secret is stored in either a Login or a Secure Note object. Inside that object, there must be a key named generate_secrets_key whose value is two words separated by a space. The first word is the application’s name and the second is the name of that secret among the secrets for that application. There may also be one or more keys named environment. Its values are the domain names of the environments to which that specific secret applies. If environment is missing, that 1Password object provides a default for the given generate_secrets_key key, which will be used if there is no other object with the same key and a matching environment.

These 1Password objects are used by the script as part of the installation process to retrieve the persistent secrets. Ephemeral secrets that can be reset when the environment is reinstalled are generated during the installation process. uses the onepassword_uuid setting in /environments/values.yaml to locate the appropriate 1Password vault.

For a step-by-step guide on adding a 1Password-based secret, see Add a secret with 1Password and VaultSecret. For updating an existing 1Password-based secret, see Updating a secret stored in 1Password and VaultSecret.