April 6, 2021

1170 words 6 mins read



Open Source (Go) implementation of "Zanzibar: Google's Consistent, Global Authorization System". Ships gRPC, REST APIs, newSQL, and an easy and granular permission language. Supports ACL, RBAC, and other access models.

repo name ory/keto
repo link https://github.com/ory/keto
homepage https://www.ory.sh/?utm_source=github&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=keto
language Go
size (curr.) 16702 kB
stars (curr.) 1998
created 2018-03-17
license Apache License 2.0

Ory Keto is the first and only open source implementation of “Zanzibar: Google’s Consistent, Global Authorization System”:

Determining whether online users are authorized to access digital objects is central to preserving privacy. This paper presents the design, implementation, and deployment of Zanzibar, a global system for storing and evaluating access control lists. Zanzibar provides a uniform data model and configuration language for expressing a wide range of access control policies from hundreds of client services at Google, including Calendar, Cloud, Drive, Maps, Photos, and YouTube. Its authorization decisions respect causal ordering of user actions and thus provide external consistency amid changes to access control lists and object contents. Zanzibar scales to trillions of access control lists and millions of authorization requests per second to support services used by billions of people. It has maintained 95th-percentile latency of less than 10 milliseconds and availability of greater than 99.999% over 3 years of production use.


If you need to know if a user (or robot, car, service) is allowed to do something - Ory Keto is the right fit for you.

Currently, Ory Keto implements the basic API contracts for managing and checking relations (“permissions”) with HTTP and gRPC APIs. Future versions will include features such as userset rewrites (e.g. RBAC-style role-permission models), Zookies, and more. An overview of what is implemented and upcoming can be found at Implemented and Planned Features.

Who’s using it?

The ORY community stands on the shoulders of individuals, companies, and maintainers. We thank everyone involved - from submitting bug reports and feature requests, to contributing patches, to sponsoring our work. Our community is 1000+ strong and growing rapidly. The ORY stack protects API requests every month with over 250.000+ active service nodes. We would have never been able to achieve this without each and everyone of you!

The following list represents companies that have accompanied us along the way and that have made outstanding contributions to our ecosystem. If you think that your company deserves a spot here, reach out to office-muc@ory.sh now!

Please consider giving back by becoming a sponsor of our open source work on Patreon or Open Collective.

We also want to thank all individual contributors

as well as all of our backers

and past & current supporters (in alphabetical order) on Patreon: Alexander Alimovs, Billy, Chancy Kennedy, Drozzy, Edwin Trejos, Howard Edidin, Ken Adler Oz Haven, Stefan Hans, TheCrealm.

* Uses one of ORY’s major projects in production.


Head over to the documentation to learn about ways of installing ORY Keto.


We build Ory on several guiding principles when it comes to our architecture design:

  • Minimal dependencies
  • Runs everywhere
  • Scales without effort
  • Minimize room for human and network errors

ORY’s architecture designed to run best on a Container Orchestration Systems such as Kubernetes, CloudFoundry, OpenShift, and similar projects. Binaries are small (5-15MB) and available for all popular processor types (ARM, AMD64, i386) and operating systems (FreeBSD, Linux, macOS, Windows) without system dependencies (Java, Node, Ruby, libxml, …).

ORY Kratos: Identity and User Infrastructure and Management

ORY Kratos is an API-first Identity and User Management system that is built according to cloud architecture best practices. It implements core use cases that almost every software application needs to deal with: Self-service Login and Registration, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA/2FA), Account Recovery and Verification, Profile and Account Management.

ORY Hydra: OAuth2 & OpenID Connect Server

ORY Hydra is an OpenID Certified™ OAuth2 and OpenID Connect Provider which easily connects to any existing identity system by writing a tiny “bridge” application. Gives absolute control over user interface and user experience flows.

ORY Oathkeeper: Identity & Access Proxy

ORY Oathkeeper is a BeyondCorp/Zero Trust Identity & Access Proxy (IAP) with configurable authentication, authorization, and request mutation rules for your web services: Authenticate JWT, Access Tokens, API Keys, mTLS; Check if the contained subject is allowed to perform the request; Encode resulting content into custom headers (X-User-ID), JSON Web Tokens and more!

ORY Keto: Access Control Policies as a Server

ORY Keto is a policy decision point. It uses a set of access control policies, similar to AWS IAM Policies, in order to determine whether a subject (user, application, service, car, …) is authorized to perform a certain action on a resource.


Disclosing vulnerabilities

If you think you found a security vulnerability, please refrain from posting it publicly on the forums, the chat, or GitHub and send us an email to hi@ory.am instead.


Our services collect summarized, anonymized data which can optionally be turned off. Click here to learn more.


The Guide is available here.

HTTP API documentation

The HTTP API is documented here.

Upgrading and Changelog

New releases might introduce breaking changes. To help you identify and incorporate those changes, we document these changes in UPGRADE.md and CHANGELOG.md.

Command line documentation

Run keto -h or keto help.


We encourage all contributions and encourage you to read our contribution guidelines


You need Go 1.16+ and (for the test suites):

  • Docker and Docker Compose
  • GNU Make 4.3
  • NodeJS / npm@v7

It is possible to develop ORY Keto on Windows, but please be aware that all guides assume a Unix shell like bash or zsh.

Install from source

Formatting Code

You can format all code using make format. Our CI checks if your code is properly formatted.

Running Tests

There are two types of tests you can run:

  • Short tests (do not require a SQL database like PostgreSQL)
  • Regular tests (do require PostgreSQL, MySQL, CockroachDB)
Short Tests

Short tests run fairly quickly. You can either test all of the code at once

go test -short -tags sqlite ./...

or test just a specific module:

go test -tags sqlite -short ./internal/check/...
Regular Tests

Regular tests require a database set up. Our test suite is able to work with docker directly (using ory/dockertest) but we encourage to use the script instead. Using dockertest can bloat the number of Docker Images on your system and starting them on each run is quite slow. Instead we recommend doing:

source ./scripts/test-resetdb.sh
go test -tags sqlite ./...
End-to-End Tests

The e2e tests are part of the normal go test. To only run the e2e test, use

source ./scripts/test-resetdb.sh
go test -tags sqlite ./internal/e2e/...

or add the -short tag to only test against sqlite in-memory.

Build Docker

You can build a development Docker Image using:

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