This topic describes the terms that are used in Resource Access Management (RAM).
Terms for identity management
|Alibaba Cloud account||
Before you use Alibaba Cloud services, you must create an Alibaba Cloud account. The Alibaba Cloud account is the owner of Alibaba Cloud resources. The Alibaba Cloud account is charged for all of the resources that it owns. The Alibaba Cloud account has full control over the resources.
By default, only the Alibaba Cloud account can access Alibaba Cloud resources. Other users can access resources only after being explicitly authorized by the Alibaba Cloud account. The Alibaba Cloud account is the administrator or root user of an operating system.
|identity||RAM provides three types of identity: RAM user, RAM user group, and RAM role. RAM users and RAM user groups are physical identities. RAM roles are virtual identities.|
|default domain name||
A unique identifier of an Alibaba Cloud account. Alibaba Cloud assigns a default domain name to each Alibaba Cloud account. The format of the default domain name is
For more information, see Manage the default domain name.
|account alias or enterprise alias||
A unique identifier of an Alibaba Cloud account. When a RAM user logs on to the Alibaba Cloud console, the suffix of the logon name can be the account alias, default domain name, or domain alias.
Each Alibaba Cloud account can have an account alias. The account alias is used for RAM user logon and can be displayed after successful logon.
For example, an enterprise can set the account alias of its Alibaba Cloud account to company1. The RAM user named alice that belongs to this Alibaba Cloud account can log on to the Alibaba Cloud console by using alice@company1. After a successful logon, the display name of the RAM user is alice@company1.
A custom domain name that can be used to replace the default domain name. The custom domain name must be publicly resolvable. A domain alias is the alias of the default domain name.
Note A domain alias can be used only after domain ownership verification. After verification, you can use the domain alias to replace the default domain name in all scenarios where the default domain name is required.
For more information, see Create a domain alias.
A physical identity that has a fixed ID and credential information. A RAM user represents a person or an application.
For more information, see Create a RAM user.
An identity credential that is used to log on to the Alibaba Cloud console.
Note We recommend that you change your password on a regular basis and keep your password confidential.
An identity credential that consists of an AccessKey ID and AccessKey secret. You can use your AccessKey pair or Alibaba Cloud SDK to sign API requests that you send to Alibaba Cloud. The AccessKey ID and AccessKey secret are used for symmetric encryption and identity verification. After the identity is verified, you can manage Alibaba Cloud resources by calling API operations.
The AccessKey ID is used to identify a user, and the AccessKey secret is used to encrypt and verify a signature string.
Note An AccessKey secret is displayed only when you create the AccessKey pair, and is not queryable. We recommend that you save the AccessKey secret for subsequent use.
For more information, see Create an AccessKey pair for a RAM user.
|multi-factor authentication (MFA)||
A simple best practice that adds an extra layer of protection in addition to your username and password. Multi-factor authentication enhances security for your account. If MFA is enabled for a user, the user must enter the following information when the user logs on to the Alibaba Cloud console:
|RAM user group||
A physical identity that contains a group of RAM users. You can create RAM user groups to classify and authorize RAM users. This simplifies the management of personnel and permissions.
A virtual identity that you can create in your Alibaba Cloud account. The differences among RAM roles, entity users (Alibaba Cloud account, RAM users, or Alibaba Cloud services), and textbook roles are as follows:
RAM roles are divided into the following types based on the entrusted entity:
|single sign-on (SSO)||
Alibaba Cloud supports SAML 2.0-based SSO (also known as identity federation).
You can implement SSO between Alibaba Cloud and your identity providers (IdPs), such as Microsoft Active Directory Federation Service (AD FS), based on SAML 2.0. Alibaba Cloud provides the following two SAML 2.0-based SSO methods:
|metadata file||The metadata file that is provided by your IdP. The metadata file is in the XML format in most cases. The metadata file contains the logon URLs, the public key that is used to verify SAML assertions, and the assertion format.|
|identity provider (IdP)||
A RAM entity that provides identity management services. IdPs are classified into the following types:
|service provider (SP)||An application that uses the identity management feature of an IdP to provide users with specific services. An SP uses the user information that is provided by an IdP. In some identity systems (such as OpenID Connect) that do not comply with the SAML protocol, SP is known as the relying party of an IdP.|
|Security Assertion Markup Language 2.0 (SAML 2.0)||A protocol that is designed for enterprise-level user identity authentication. SAML 2.0 is used for communication between an SP and an IdP. SAML 2.0 is a standard that enterprises use to implement enterprise-level SSO.|
|SAML assertion||A core element that is defined in the SAML protocol. This element describes the authentication request and response. For example, the SAML assertion for an authentication response can contain user attributes.|
|trust||A mutual trust relationship between an SP and an IdP. In most cases, the trust relationship is established by using public and private keys. An SP can obtain the SAML metadata of a trusted IdP. The metadata includes a public key. The SP uses the public key to verify the integrity of the SAML assertion that is issued by the IdP.|
Terms for access control
Indicates whether a user is allowed to perform specific operations on a specific Alibaba Cloud resource. Permissions include Allow and Deny.
Operations include the following two types:
A set of permissions that are described based on the policy structure and syntax. You can use policies to describe the authorized resource sets, authorized operation sets, and authorization conditions. For more information, see Policy structure and syntax.
In RAM, a policy is a resource entity that can be created, updated, deleted, and viewed. RAM supports the following two types of policy:
You can attach one or more policies to RAM users, RAM user groups, and RAM roles. For more information, see Grant permissions to a RAM user, Grant permissions to a RAM user group, and Grant permissions to a RAM role.
|principal||The subject to which a specific permission is granted. The authorized principal can be a RAM user, RAM user group, or RAM role.|
|effect||The authorization effect. It is a basic element of a policy. Valid values are Allow and Deny.|
|action||The operations to be performed on a specific Alibaba Cloud resource. The action is a basic element of a policy. Valid values are the names of API operations from Alibaba Cloud services.|
|condition||The condition for the authorization to take effect. The condition is a basic element of a policy.|
|resource||A manageable object that is provided by an Alibaba Cloud service. For example, resources can be OSS buckets and ECS instances.|