Integrating Keycloak with Spring Boot for Seamless Security

In today’s digital landscape, ensuring the security of sensitive data is paramount for organizations. This involves implementing robust authentication and authorization mechanisms to safeguard information from unauthorized access.

Understanding Authentication and Authorization

Authentication:  Authentication is as the first defense in securing systems by verifying the user credentials. It confirms the identity of the individual attempting to access a particular resource or service.

Authorization: Authorization allows access to the system once the user identity gets authenticated. It defines the level of access granted to a user based on their roles and permissions.

In the modern era, everything needs to be secured. In that process, developers play a key role in providing authentication, authorization, and securing everything that takes a huge amount of time. Red Hat introduced the Open-Source Software known as Keycloak, which helps reduce boilerplate code written by the developer. It says ‘Hey Developer’, you think more about business logic, I will handle authentication and authorization.

In this blog, we have covered what Keycloak is, its architecture, benefits, features, and advantages and disadvantages.

What is Keycloak?

 Keycloak is an open-source Identity and Access Management solution that allows you to secure your applications and services with minimum fuss. It’s a powerful, flexible solution that provides everything you need to secure your web applications and APIs.

What is IAM?

IAM (Identity Access Management) is a framework to authenticate the user’s identity and privileges. It checks whether the user has access to necessary files, networks, and other resources that the user has requested. It also checks how and by whom the information can be accessed and modified by the management of descriptive information of users. 

IAM systems provide tools and technologies to the administrators to change a user’s role, keep track of user activities, etc. Installing an Identity and Access Management solution with a web-based interface is a common requirement for most modern software projects. 

Not too long ago, developers needed to develop their own user management infrastructure like login page, log out, password reset, password hashing, social login, etc., for every new application they worked on. Fortunately, with the emergence of frameworks like Keycloak and container technologies like Docker, integrating robust authentication and authorization systems into Spring Boot applications has become increasingly straightforward and efficient.

Keycloak Architecture

Realm: A realm oversees a collection of users, credentials, roles, and groups.

Client: Clients represent entities that initiate requests to Keycloak for user authentication purposes. Typically, clients refer to applications and services that leverage Keycloak’s security capabilities to secure themselves and provide a single sign-on solution.

Users: Users refer to entities capable of authenticating into your system.

Roles: Roles identify a type or category of user.

Benefits of Keycloak

  • Fast and flexible
  • Open Source Software
  • Proven and Supported
  • Authentication & Authorization

How does Keycloak work?

Keycloak works by acting as a central authentication and authorization server. When a user tries to access a protected resource, such as a web application or API, Keycloak checks their credentials to determine whether they are authorized to access the resource. If the user is authorized, Keycloak generates a token sent to the resource. This token can identify users and grant them access to the protected resource.

Keycloak also supports single sign-on (SSO), which means that once a user has authenticated with Keycloak, they can access other protected resources without entering their credentials again. This makes it easier for users to switch between web applications and services without having multiple usernames and passwords.

Key Features of Keycloak

Authentication mechanisms: Keycloak supports various authentication mechanisms, including username/password, social logins, multi-factor authentication, and more. This allows developers to choose the authentication mechanism that best suits their application requirements.

Authorization policies: Keycloak provides fine-grained authorization policies that allow developers to control access to specific resources based on the user’s role or group membership.

Single sign-on (SSO): Keycloak supports SSO, making it easier for users to access multiple web applications and services without repeatedly entering their credentials.

User federation: Keycloak supports user federation, which allows you to authenticate users against an external identity provider, such as LDAP or Active Directory.

Client registration: Keycloak provides a simple way to register client applications, which allows them to authenticate with Keycloak and access protected resources.


Keycloak is a powerful and flexible identity and access management tool that can help secure your web applications and APIs. It provides a range of authentication mechanisms, authorization policies, and SSO capabilities, making it easier for developers to secure their applications. With its user federation, client registration, and extensibility, Keycloak is a versatile solution that can be customized to meet the specific needs of your application.

About the author

Raviteja Duvvu

As a passionate Full-Stack developer, I thrive on bringing ideas to life through code. With a keen interest in staying at the forefront of the industry, I'm always eager to tackle new challenges and push the boundaries of what's possible in the world of technology. Outside of work, you can find me immersed in the latest tech trends, experimenting with innovative solutions, or enjoying outdoor adventures.

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