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LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) authentication is a secure and reliable method of authenticating users and granting access to network resources. It is a widely used protocol for authentication and authorization in enterprise networks and is an important component of any secure network infrastructure.

We regularly test our LDAP implementation against OpenLDAP and Microsoft Active Directory.

Authentication Flow

Local authentication has a precedence over other authentication methods. This means that LDAP is consulted only if the user doesn’t have a local account. Thus, we recommend keeping the number of local accounts to an absolute minimum in cases when an external authentication method (like an LDAP) is in use.

IP Fabric implementation authenticates users with LDAP every time they try to log in with username and password to IP Fabric. Accounts are not synchronized or imported in advance. Simplified authentication flow for configured and enabled LDAP is as follows:

graph LR
    LoginStart[User attempts to log in] --> UserLocal{Local account?}

    UserLocal -->|Yes| PswCheck{Correct password?}
      PswCheck -->|Yes| LoginOk[Successful login]
      PswCheck --> |No| LoginFailed[Login failed]
    UserLocal -->|No| LDAP{LDAP configured?}

    LDAP -->|No| LoginFailed[Login failed]
    LDAP -->|Yes| LdapSearch[Search for user in LDAP]

    LdapSearch --> |failure| LoginFailed[Login failed]
    LdapSearch -->|success| LdapBind[Bind as user]

    LdapBind --> |failure| LoginFailed[Login failed]
    LdapBind -->|success| UserLocalLdap[Create/update non-local account in DB]
    UserLocalLdap --> FetchGroups[Fetch Groups from LDAP]
    FetchGroups --> LoginOk[Successful login]

    style LoginOk fill:#33dd00
    style LoginFailed fill:#dd3300

If a user is successfully authenticated through LDAP, basic information about this user is then passed from LDAP and stored in the database as a non-local account. Also, information about groups and memberships is fetched and stored within the database.

Local accounts have isLocal attribute set to true. You may see accounts for external authentication methods also being created, but these will have isLocal set to false, and they will not be considered for local authentication. Records are created for housekeeping reasons, primarily to have a consistent mapping to local groups and roles.

Enable LDAP Authentication

LDAP Configuration

  1. Log in to IP Fabric as a user with admin rights.

  2. Go to Settings → Administration → LDAP.

  3. Select + Add Domain.

  4. Choose LDAP server type in the Type drop-down menu (Microsoft Active Directory or Open LDAP).

  5. Enter all the aliases/suffixes for this domain in the Account suffixes field.

    1. Each suffix must begin with @.
    2. If the same user can log in with other suffixes, for example, and then fill in and
  6. Add servers for the domain:

    1. As an explicit list of addresses:

      1. Choose Use pre-configured LDAP servers in Servers’ dropdown.

      2. Specify full FQDN (including domain) or IP address of the LDAP server including the protocol prefix (such as ldap:// or ldaps://

      3. Specify the port (default ports are 389 for LDAP and 636 for LDAPS).

      4. For LDAP over SSL, also upload a Root CA certificate used for the LDAP certificate signature.

      5. Click + Add Server if you want to add backup servers.

    2. Using DNS service records:

      1. Choose Use DNS to find LDAP servers in Servers’ dropdown.

      2. Choose or upload a certificate (recommended in the production environment).

      3. Define the DNS address.

      4. Define Service location name (common names are ldap and ldaps). This is the network service that constructs the final name of the record. The construction is done as follows: \_{{service location name}}.\_tcp.{{dns address}}

  7. Specify service account with LDAP read permissions in the Bind DN field. This field must be an escaped LDAP-style distinguished name. Examples:

    1. CN=Doe\, Joe,OU=europe,DC=your,DC=domain,DC=com
    2. CN=User,OU=europe,DC=your,DC=domain,DC=com
  8. Enter the bind user’s password (defined in step 7) in the Bind credentials field.

  9. Enter a whole domain or specific organization unit (container) in Search base to specify where users and groups are found in the LDAP tree, for example: OU=NetworkAdmins,DC=your,DC=domain,DC=com.

  10. Enter an attribute where email is stored in the LDAP user object into Search email attribute.

  11. Only for Microsoft Active Directory: Check Allow nested groups for nested group permission lookup. This uses Extensible Match Rule (LDAP_MATCHING_RULE_IN_CHAIN) which might be slow in your local setup.

  12. Click Confirm.


If the LDAP server is not reachable or credentials to the service account are not correct, LDAP authentication cannot be set.

Two or more LDAP servers

When two or more LDAP server configurations are present, an email suffix needs to be added to the username when logging in.

Username alone works only in a situation when one LDAP server configuration is present.

LDAP Group Permissions

LDAP Group Permissions

After the LDAP server is added, Group Permissions can be set.

All authenticated users will get assigned role configured for Authenticated user:

  • By leaving this role empty it’s possible to ensure that users logged via LDAP will get API_INSUFFICIENT_RIGHTS error upon login / access to API.
  • Alternatively, this could be set to a read-only role so that any user that authenticates successfully to LDAP will have access to IP Fabric.

Primary user groups are not supported

It is recommended to create new LDAP groups (such as IP_FABRIC_ADMINISTRATORS, IP_FABRIC_USERS, …) and assign them permissions.

Disable LDAP Authentication

Delete all LDAP configuration domains in Settings → Administration → LDAP to disable LDAP authentication.


The two most common issues are either incorrectly configured search account (Bind DN, Bind credentials) or incorrect Search base. These will typically result in an LDAP Search Failed error being shown.

Please be aware that all LDAP errors regarding server connection and user binding are returned as LDAP as provided is not reachable due to security concerns.

Before contacting our support, please make sure that information entered in the IP Fabric user interface is correct.

Using ldapsearch to verify LDAP configuration

You can use ldapsearch command-line utility to independently query LDAP servers. ldapsearch is present in the IP Fabric appliance (access it via ssh) or it can be installed locally as part of ldap-utils Linux package. It is recommended to always test LDAP configuration from the IP Fabric appliance to rule connectivity issues out.


The following example doesn’t verify SSL certificate if LDAPS is used.

Basic bind as search DN
  -W -H "ldaps://your-ldap-server:636" \
  -D "$LDAP_BIND_DN" \
  -s sub

The exit code of the command above is zero if the ldapsearch was able to establish connection and bind. It will ask for a bind password interactively. LDAP search/filer query can be added to the end of the previous example code.

Search for a concrete user account
Nested groups membership search