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Vault - Secure Credentials Storage

NOTE: This BOSH release has a lot of configuration options, and is intended more for people who want to tinker with Vault and its various storage backends. If you are looking for a rock-solid Vault deployment on BOSH, check out the safe BOSH Release instead.

Questions? Pop in our slack channel

This BOSH release packages the excellent Vault software from Hashicorp, primarily for tinkering, experimentation.

  • Release engineering and testing by Stark & Wayne Concourse
  • All PRs will be run through CI/CD (see testflight-pr job)


To use this BOSH release:

$ export BOSH_ENVIRONMENT=<alias>
$ export BOSH_DEPLOYMENT=vault

$ git clone
$ cd vault-boshrelease
$ bosh deploy manifests/vault.yml --vars-store tmp/creds.yml

If your BOSH has Credhub/Config Server, then you do not need --vars-store. Rather certificates/credentials will be generated and stored within Credhub. Subsequent instructions below will continue to use --vars-store examples.

Run bosh instances to get the IP address for one of your Vault instances:

$ bosh instances

Instance                                    Process State  AZ  IPs
vault/259fbc67-0a0f-4714-a122-f3370ffd5bd6  running        z3
vault/5a692a5e-260a-414f-9906-6e1ccbf66433  running        z2
vault/9f34f839-92a0-4827-a713-c43a2430c0d9  running        z1

Next you need to initialize the Vault. Connect via port :8200:

$ export VAULT_ADDR=
$ export VAULT_SKIP_VERIFY=true
$ vault operator init

This generates a root encryption key for encrypting all of the secrets. At this point, the vault is sealed, and you will need to unseal it three times, each time with a different key:

$ vault operator unseal
$ vault operator unseal
$ vault operator unseal

Once unsealed, your Vault should be ready for authentication with your initial root token:

$ vault login

Now, you can put secrets in the Vault, and read them back out (try any path with secret/ prefix):

$ vault write secret/handshake knock=knock
$ vault read secret/handshake

You may want to look at safe, an alternative command-line utility for Vault that provides higher-level abstractions like tree-based listing, secret generation, secure terminal password entry, etc.


Template Strings

As the base manifest shows, a full HCL configuration can be assigned to the vault.config property. If you're using Vault in HA mode (which is recommended) you'll probably need to set values like api_addr and cluster_address. The vault.config property supports the following template strings to make setting these values easier:


During deployment this value will be replaced with the IP address of the instance. This will not include the protocol or any port information. For example for an IP based configuration:

storage "consul" {
  path = "vault/"
  check_timeout = "5s"
  max_parallel = "128"
api_addr = "http://(ip):8200"
cluster_addr = "https://(ip):8201"


During deployment this value will be replaced with the index of the instance. This can be particularly useful for DNS configuration values. For example, if you were deploying 3 instances, this would ensure each one had a unique DNS value in its configuration::

storage "consul" {
  path = "vault/"
  check_timeout = "5s"
  max_parallel = "128"
api_addr = "http://vault-(index)"
cluster_addr = "https://vault-(index)"

Certificate Management

Your Vault configuration is likely going to require TLS. This release's vault.tls property can lets you provide these certificates:

    - name: "my_tls_cert"
      cert: |
        -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
        -----END CERTIFICATE-----
      key: ((or_use_a_variable))

    - name: "other_tls_cert"
      cert: ((other_tls_certificate_content))
      key: ((other_tls_key_content))

The above configuration will create the following files on the Vault instance before starting Vault:

  • /var/vcap/jobs/vault/tls/my_tls_cert/cert.pem
  • /var/vcap/jobs/vault/tls/my_tls_cert/key.pem
  • /var/vcap/jobs/vault/tls/other_tls_cert/cert.pem
  • /var/vcap/jobs/vault/tls/other_tls_cert/key.pem

Management of Additional Configuration Files

Vault's configuration supports lots of cool features that sometimes require additional configuration files be present. An example of this is GCP auto unsealing. To support these kinds of cases this Bosh release provides the additional_config property.

      - name: gcp.json
        config: |

The above configuration will create the file /var/vcap/jobs/vault/config/gcp.json on the Vault instance before starting Vault.

Monit Script Configuration

In order to enable features like zero downtime redeploys this Bosh release bundles scripts that utilize the Vault CLI. Manifest properties are available to explicitly set the value of the VAULT_SKIP_VERIFY and VAULT_ADDR environment variables in the context of these monit scripts:

      skip_verify: false                      #default if absent
      addr:        ""   #default if absent

Prior to 1.0.0 release, the VAULT_SKIP_VERIFY environment variable is set if the vault address contains https, so connecting to the vault server on (during unseal) would not throw an SSL exception. Since 1.0.0 release, the environmental variable is no longer set by default. There are several possible ways to address the situation.

  • If you have only one vault node, you can use properties.vault.addr to set VAULT_ADDR environmental variable according to your cert CN.

  • If you have more than one nodes, and can use SAN IP entry of in your certs, leave out properties.vault.addr (using the default).

  • If you have more than one nodes, and can NOT use SAN IP entry of in your certs, you need to specify vault.skip_verify, and leave out vault.addr. This breaks the security model, though minor since the communication is at the local host.

Zero Downtime Updates

To enable zero-downtime updates you must provide an auth token that is authorized to perform vault step-down. Once you have unsealed vault you can set it up as follows:

$ cat > step-down.hcl <<EOF
path "sys/step-down" {
  capabilities = ["update", "sudo"]

$ vault policy write step-down ./step-down.hcl
Policy 'step-down' written.
$ vault token create -policy="step-down" -display-name="step-down" -no-default-policy -orphan
Key             Value
---             -----
token           STEP-DOWN-TOKEN
token_accessor  cf37c98a-685a-1cf0-fc2e-4bd21a4a6be2
token_duration  768h0m0s
token_renewable true
token_policies  [step-down]

Then add the token value to your deployment file under properties.vault.update.step_down_token. This will cause Vault to perform a controlled failover before updating each individual node.

Once the update of a node has completed it will need to be unsealed. If you add your unseal keys under properties.vault.update.unseal_keys this will also be taken care of. This will make the entire update process truely zero-downtime ie. when using a consul-agent to provide dns, the domain name vault.service.consul should always be pointing to a Vault that will accept connections.

$ bosh deploy manifests/vault.yml --vars-store tmp/creds.yml \
  -o manifests/operators/step-down-token.yml \
  -v "vault-step-down-token=STEP-DOWN-TOKEN" \
  -v "vault-unseal-keys=[UNSEAL1,UNSEAL2,UNSEAL3]"

It is highly recommended to run vault rekey after an update where the unseal keys were provided have taken place to not leave the keys exposed in the manifest.

WARNING!!! If you add the unseal keys to your manifest and do not rekey once the deployment is done then it will be possible for anyone with access to the manifest to decrypt and see all secrets stored in vault.

You will provide three of the original unseal keys to vault rekey, so run it three times to generate new unseal keys:

$ vault operator rekey
$ vault operator rekey
$ vault operator rekey

See rekeying and rotating (in the Vault documentation) for additional instructions.