Admin privileges in Unity Catalog

This article describes privileges that Databricks account admins, workspace admins, and metastore admins have for managing Unity Catalog.

Note

If your workspace was enabled for Unity Catalog automatically, workspace admins have default privileges on the attached metastore and the workspace catalog, if a workspace catalog was provisioned. See Workspace admin privileges when workspaces are enabled for Unity Catalog automatically.

Metastore admins

The metastore admin is a highly privileged user or group in Unity Catalog. Metastore admins have the following privileges on the metastore by default:

Metastore admins are also the owners of the metastore, which grants them the following privileges:

  • Manage the privileges or transfer ownership of any object within the metastore, including storage credentials, external locations, connections, shares, recipients, and providers.

  • Grant themselves read and write access to any data in the metastore.

    Metastore admins have this ability indirectly, through their ability to transfer ownership of all objects. There is no direct access by default. Granting of permissions is audit-logged.

  • Read and update the metadata of all objects in the metastore.

  • Delete the metastore.

Metastore admins are the only users who can grant privileges on the metastore itself.

Who has metastore admin privileges?

If an account admin creates the metastore, that account admin is the metastore’s initial owner and metastore admin. All metastores created before November 8, 2023 were created manually by an account admin.

If the metastore was provisioned as part of automatic Unity Catalog enablement, the metastore was created without a metastore admin. Workspace admins in that case are automatically granted privileges that make the metastore admin optional. If needed, account admins can assign the metastore admin role to a user, service principal, or group. Groups are strongly recommended. See Automatic enablement of Unity Catalog.

Assign a metastore admin

Metastore admin is a highly privileged role that you should distribute carefully. It is optional.

Account admins can assign the metastore admin role. Databricks recommends nominating a group as the metastore admin. By doing this, any member of the group is automatically a metastore admin.

To assign the metastore admin role to a group:

  1. As an account admin, log in to the account console.

  2. Click Catalog icon Catalog.

  3. Click the name of a metastore to open its properties.

  4. Under Metastore Admin, click Edit.

  5. Select a group from the drop-down. You can enter text in the field to search for options.

  6. Click Save.

Important

It can take up to 30 seconds for a metastore admin assignment change to be reflected in your account, and it may take longer to take effect in some workspaces than others. This delay is due to caching protocols.

Account admins

Account admin is a highly privileged role that you should distribute carefully. Account admins have the following privileges:

  • Can create metastores, and by default become the initial metastore admin.

  • Can link metastores to workspaces.

  • Can assign the metastore admin role.

  • Can enable Delta Sharing for a metastore.

  • Can configure storage credentials.

  • Can enable system tables and delegate access to them.

Workspace admins

Workspace admin is a highly privileged role that you should distribute carefully. Workspace admins have the following privileges:

Workspace admin privileges when workspaces are enabled for Unity Catalog automatically

If your workspace was enabled for Unity Catalog automatically, the workspace is attached to a metastore by default. For more information see Automatic enablement of Unity Catalog.

Note

The default privileges granted on the attached metastore and workspace catalog are not maintained across workspaces (if, for example, the workspace catalog is also bound to another workspace).

If your workspace was enabled for Unity Catalog automatically, workspace admins have the following privileges on the attached metastore by default:

  • CREATE CATALOG

  • CREATE EXTERNAL LOCATION

  • CREATE STORAGE CREDENTIAL

  • CREATE CONNECTION

  • CREATE SHARE

  • CREATE RECIPIENT

  • CREATE PROVIDER

Workspace admins are the default owners of the workspace catalog, if a workspace catalog was provisioned for your workspace. Ownership of this catalog grants the following privileges:

  • Manage the privileges for or transfer ownership of any object within the workspace catalog.

    This includes the ability to grant themselves read and write access to all data in the catalog (no direct access by default; granting permissions is audit-logged).

  • Transfer ownership of the workspace catalog itself.

All workspace users receive the USE CATALOG privilege on the workspace catalog. Workspace users also receive the USE SCHEMA, CREATE TABLE, CREATE VOLUME, CREATE MODEL, CREATE FUNCTION, CREATE MATERIALIZED VIEW privileges on the default schema in the catalog.