How is Gatekeeper different from OPA?

How is Gatekeeper different from OPA?

In the ever-evolving landscape of cloud-native technologies, ensuring secure and compliant deployments is paramount. Gatekeeper and Open Policy Agent (OPA) emerge as key players in this domain, offering solutions to enforce policies within Kubernetes clusters. However, their approaches and functionalities differ significantly. This article will delve into the distinctions between Gatekeeper and OPA, shedding light on their unique features and use cases.

Understanding the Basics:

Before we explore the differences, let's establish a foundational understanding of Gatekeeper and OPA.

  • Gatekeeper:
    Gatekeeper is an admission controller for Kubernetes, developed by Microsoft in collaboration with others. It enforces policies during the admission phase, preventing the deployment of resources that violate predefined policies. These policies are written in Rego, a query language used by OPA.

  • Open Policy Agent (OPA):
    OPA, on the other hand, is a general-purpose policy engine that can be leveraged in various domains, including Kubernetes. It operates outside the admission control process and provides a more extensive range of use cases beyond Kubernetes admission control.

Distinguishing Features:

  1. Enforcement Point:

    • Gatekeeper: Acts as an admission controller, intercepting requests before they are admitted to the cluster.
    • OPA: Functions independently of admission control, allowing for broader policy enforcement across various services and platforms.
  2. Policy Language:

    • Gatekeeper: Utilizes Rego, a domain-specific language tailored for expressing policies in OPA.
    • OPA: Employs Rego as its policy language, offering a consistent approach for defining policies.
  3. Use Cases:

    • Gatekeeper: Primarily focused on Kubernetes admission control, ensuring that only compliant resources are admitted to the cluster.
    • OPA: Extends beyond Kubernetes to provide a unified policy language for cloud infrastructure, microservices, and other domains.

Implementation Differences:

  1. Integration:

    • Gatekeeper: Seamlessly integrates with Kubernetes admission control, simplifying the enforcement of policies during resource creation.
    • OPA: Offers flexibility in integration, enabling users to incorporate policy decisions into various stages of their workflow.
  2. Scalability:

    • Gatekeeper: Scales well for Kubernetes admission control but may require additional configurations for broader use cases.
    • OPA: Designed for scalability across diverse environments, accommodating policy enforcement at scale.

Step-by-Step Guide:

Let's explore how to set up a simple policy in both Gatekeeper and OPA to restrict the deployment of containers with excessive resource requests.


  1. Install Gatekeeper on your Kubernetes cluster.
  2. Create a constraint template and constraint specifying the resource constraints.
  3. Apply the constraint to your cluster to enforce the policy.


  1. Install OPA on your Kubernetes cluster or desired environment.
  2. Write a Rego policy file defining resource constraints.
  3. Integrate OPA with your admission control or relevant workflow.
  4. Ensure the policy is evaluated during resource creation.

More Examples:

  1. Dynamic Policies:

    • Gatekeeper: Limited in dynamically updating policies during runtime.
    • OPA: Allows for dynamic policy updates without service interruption.
  2. Extensibility:

    • Gatekeeper: Primarily tailored for Kubernetes, with limited extensibility beyond this context.
    • OPA: Designed to be a versatile policy engine applicable across a wide range of use cases.

So, while both Gatekeeper and OPA contribute to enhancing security and compliance in cloud-native environments, their unique approaches make them suitable for different scenarios. Understanding their distinctions empowers users to choose the right tool for their specific requirements.

Related Searches and Questions asked:

  • Oracle Database on Kubernetes: A Comprehensive Guide
  • Getting Started with Kubernetes Gatekeeper on Azure
  • What is the Difference Between GCP Kubernetes and Compute Engine?
  • How Do I Enable Nutanix Karbon?
  • That's it for this topic, Hope this article is useful. Thanks for Visiting us.