Unity Catalog privileges and securable objects

This article describes the Unity Catalog privilege model. To learn about how this model differs from the Hive metastore, see Work with Unity Catalog and the legacy Hive metastore.

Note

This article refers to the Unity Catalog privileges and inheritance model in Privilege Model version 1.0. If you created your Unity Catalog metastore during the public preview (before August 25, 2022), you can upgrade to Privilege Model version 1.0 following Upgrade to privilege inheritance

Who can manage privileges?

Privileges can be granted by either a metastore admin, the owner of an object, or the owner of the catalog or schema that contains the object.

If your workspace was enabled for Unity Catalog automatically, the workspace is attached to a metastore by default and a workspace catalog is created for your workspace in the metastore. Workspace admins are the default owners of the workspace catalog. As owners, they can manage privileges on the workspace catalog and all child objects.

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.

For more information, see Automatic enablement of Unity Catalog.

How to manage privileges

You can manage privileges for metastore objects by using SQL commands, Unity Catalog CLI (legacy), or in Catalog Explorer. To learn how to use Catalog Explorer to manage privileges see, Manage Unity Catalog permissions in Catalog Explorer.

To manage privileges in SQL, you use GRANT and REVOKE statements in a notebook or the Databricks SQL query editor, using the syntax:

GRANT privilege_type ON securable_object TO principal

Where:

For example, the following command grants a group named finance-team access to create tables in a schema named default with the parent catalog named main:

GRANT CREATE TABLE ON SCHEMA main.default TO `finance-team`;

Most statements that grant or revoke a privilege follow the syntax shown in the previous example, stating the securable object type (SCHEMA) followed by the securable object’s name (main.default). However, when you grant privileges on a metastore, you do not include the metastore name, because the metastore that is attached to your workspace is assumed:

GRANT CREATE CATALOG ON METASTORE TO `account users`;

For more information about granting privileges using SQL commands, see Privileges and securable objects in Unity Catalog.

You can also manage privileges by using the Databricks Terraform provider and databricks_grants.

Inheritance model

Securable objects in Unity Catalog are hierarchical and privileges are inherited downward. The highest level object that privileges are inherited from is the catalog. This means that granting a privilege on a catalog or schema automatically grants the privilege to all current and future objects within the catalog or schema. Privileges that are granted on a Unity Catalog metastore are not inherited.

For example, the following command grants the SELECT privilege on all tables and views in any schema in the catalog main to the group finance:

GRANT SELECT ON CATALOG main TO finance;

Similarly, you can perform grants on a schema for a smaller scope of access:

GRANT SELECT ON SCHEMA main.default TO finance;

The inheritance model provides an easy way to set up default access rules for your data. For example, the following commands enable the machine learning team to create tables within a schema and read each other’s tables:

CREATE CATALOG ml;
CREATE SCHEMA ml.team_sandbox;
GRANT USE_CATALOG ON CATALOG ml TO ml_team;
GRANT USE_SCHEMA ON SCHEMA ml.team_sandbox TO ml_team;
GRANT CREATE TABLE ON SCHEMA ml.team_sandbox TO ml_team;
GRANT SELECT ON SCHEMA ml.team_sandbox TO ml_team;

Owners of an object are automatically granted all privileges on that object. In addition, object owners can grant privileges on the object itself and on all of its child objects. This means that owners of a schema do not automatically have all privileges on the tables in the schema, but they can grant themselves privileges on the tables in the schema.

Securable objects in Unity Catalog

A securable object is an object defined in the Unity Catalog metastore on which privileges can be granted to a principal. Securable objects in Unity Catalog are hierarchical.

Unity Catalog object hierarchy

The securable objects are:

  • METASTORE: The top-level container for metadata. Each Unity Catalog metastore exposes a three-level namespace (catalog.schema.table) that organizes your data.

  • CATALOG: The first layer of the object hierarchy, used to organize your data assets. A foreign catalog is a special catalog type that mirrors a database in an external data system in a Lakehouse Federation scenario.

  • SCHEMA: Also known as databases, schemas are the second layer of the object hierarchy and contain tables and views.

  • TABLE: The lowest level in the object hierarchy, tables can be external (stored in external locations in your cloud storage of choice) or managed tables (stored in a storage container in your cloud storage that you create expressly for Databricks).

  • VIEW: A read-only object created from one or more tables that is contained within a schema.

  • VOLUME: The lowest level in the object hierarchy, volumes can be external (stored in external locations in your cloud storage of choice) or managed (stored in a storage container in your cloud storage that you create expressly for Databricks).

  • REGISTERED MODEL: An MLflow registered model that is contained within a schema.

  • FUNCTION: A user-defined function that is contained within a schema. See User-defined functions (UDFs) in Unity Catalog.

  • EXTERNAL LOCATION: An object that contains a reference to a storage credential and a cloud storage path that is contained within a Unity Catalog metastore.

  • STORAGE CREDENTIAL: An object that encapsulates a long-term cloud credential that provides access to cloud storage that is contained within a Unity Catalog metastore.

  • CONNECTION: An object that specifies a path and credentials for accessing an external database system in a Lakehouse Federation scenario.

  • SHARE: A logical grouping for the tables you intend to share using Delta Sharing. A share is contained within a Unity Catalog metastore.

  • RECIPIENT: An object that identifies an organization or group of users that can have data shared with them using Delta Sharing. These objects are contained within a Unity Catalog metastore.

  • PROVIDER: An object that represents an organization that has made data available for sharing using Delta Sharing. These objects are contained within a Unity Catalog metastore.

Privilege types by securable object in Unity Catalog

The following table lists the privilege types that apply to each securable object in Unity Catalog:

Securable

Privileges

Metastore

CREATE CATALOG, CREATE CONNECTION, CREATE EXTERNAL LOCATION, CREATE PROVIDER, CREATE RECIPIENT, CREATE SHARE, CREATE STORAGE CREDENTIAL, SET SHARE PERMISSION, USE MARKETPLACE ASSETS, USE PROVIDER, USE RECIPIENT, USE SHARE

Catalog

ALL PRIVILEGES, APPLY TAG, CREATE SCHEMA, USE CATALOG

All users have USE CATALOG on the main catalog by default.

The following privilege types apply to securable objects in a catalog. You can grant these privileges at the catalog level to apply them to the pertinent current and future objects in the catalog.

CREATE FUNCTION, CREATE TABLE, CREATE MODEL, CREATE VOLUME, CREATE FOREIGN CATALOG, READ VOLUME, WRITE VOLUME, EXECUTE, MODIFY, SELECT, USE SCHEMA

Schema

ALL PRIVILEGES, APPLY TAG, CREATE FUNCTION, CREATE TABLE, CREATE MODEL, CREATE VOLUME, USE SCHEMA

The following privilege types apply to securable objects within a schema. You can grant these privileges at the schema level to apply them to the pertinent current and future objects within the schema.

EXECUTE, MODIFY, SELECT, READ VOLUME, WRITE VOLUME

Table

ALL PRIVILEGES, APPLY TAG, SELECT, MODIFY

View

ALL PRIVILEGES, APPLY TAG, SELECT

Volume

ALL PRIVILEGES, READ VOLUME, WRITE VOLUME

External location

ALL PRIVILEGES, CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE, CREATE EXTERNAL VOLUME, READ FILES, WRITE FILES, CREATE MANAGED STORAGE

Storage credential

ALL PRIVILEGES, CREATE EXTERNAL LOCATION, CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE, READ FILES, WRITE FILES

Connection

ALL PRIVILEGES, CREATE FOREIGN CATALOG, USE CONNECTION

Function

ALL PRIVILEGES, EXECUTE

Registered Model

ALL PRIVILEGES, APPLY TAG, EXECUTE

Share

SELECT (Can be granted to RECIPIENT)

Recipient

None

Provider

None

When you manage privileges on a metastore, you do not include the metastore name in a SQL command. Unity Catalog grants or revokes the privilege on the metastore attached to your workspace. For example, the following command grants a group named engineering the ability to create a catalog in the metastore attached to the workspace:

GRANT CREATE CATALOG ON METASTORE TO engineering

General Unity Catalog privilege types

This section provides details about the privilege types that apply generally to Unity Catalog.

ALL PRIVILEGES

Applicable object types: CATALOG, EXTERNAL LOCATION, STORAGE CREDENTIAL, SCHEMA, FUNCTION, REGISTERED MODEL, TABLE, VIEW, VOLUME

Used to grant or revoke all privileges applicable to the securable object and its child objects without explicitly specifying them.

When ALL PRIVILEGES is granted on an object, it does not individually grant the user each applicable privilege at the time of the grant. Instead, it expands to all available privileges at the time permissions checks are made.

When ALL PRIVILEGES is revoked, the ALL PRIVILEGES privilege is revoked and any explicit privileges granted to the user on the object are also revoked.

Note

This privilege is powerful when applied at higher levels in the hierarchy. For example, GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON CATALOG main TO analysts would give the analyst team all privileges on every object (schemas, tables, views, functions) in the catalog.

APPLY TAG

Applicable object types: CATALOG, SCHEMA, REGISTERED MODEL, TABLE, VIEW

Allows a user to add and edit tags on an object. Granting APPLY TAG to a table or view also enables column tagging.

The user must also have the USE CATALOG privilege on the parent catalog and USE SCHEMA on the parent schema.

CREATE CATALOG

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

Allows a user to create a catalog in a Unity Catalog metastore. To create a foreign catalog, you must also have the CREATE FOREIGN CATALOG privilege on the connection that contains the foreign catalog or on the metastore.

CREATE CONNECTION

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

Allows a user to create a connection to an external database in a Lakehouse Federation scenario.

CREATE EXTERNAL LOCATION

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore, STORAGE CREDENTIAL

To create an external location, the user must have this privilege on both the metastore and the storage credential that is being referenced in the external location.

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE

Applicable object types: EXTERNAL LOCATION, STORAGE CREDENTIAL

Allows a user to create external tables directly in your cloud tenant using an external location or storage credential. Databricks recommends granting this privilege on an external location rather than storage credential (since it’s scoped to a path, it allows more control over where users can create external tables in your cloud tenant).

CREATE EXTERNAL VOLUME

Applicable object types: EXTERNAL LOCATION

Allows a user to create external volumes using an external location.

CREATE FOREIGN CATALOG

Applicable object types: CONNECTION

Allows a user to create foreign catalogs using a connection to an external database in a Lakehouse Federation scenario.

CREATE FUNCTION

Applicable object types: SCHEMA, CATALOG

Allows a user to create a function in the schema. Since privileges are inherited, CREATE FUNCTION can also be granted on a catalog, which allows a user to create a function in any existing or future schema in the catalog.

The user must also have the USE CATALOG privilege on the parent catalog and USE SCHEMA on the parent schema.

CREATE MODEL

Applicable object types: SCHEMA, CATALOG

Allows a user to create an MLflow registered model in the schema. Since privileges are inherited, CREATE MODEL can also be granted on a catalog, which allows a user to create a registered model in any existing or future schema in the catalog.

The user must also have the USE CATALOG privilege on the parent catalog and USE SCHEMA on the parent schema.

CREATE MANAGED STORAGE

Applicable object types: EXTERNAL LOCATION

Allows a user to specify a location for storing managed tables at the catalog or schema level, overriding the default root storage for the metastore.

CREATE SCHEMA

Applicable object types: CATALOG

Allows a user to create a schema. The user must also have the USE CATALOG privilege on the catalog.

CREATE STORAGE CREDENTIAL

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

Allows a user to create a storage credential in a Unity Catalog metastore.

CREATE TABLE

Applicable object types: SCHEMA, CATALOG

Allows a user to create a table or view in the schema. Since privileges are inherited, CREATE TABLE can also be granted on a catalog, which allows a user to create a table or view in any existing or future schema in the catalog.

The user must also have the USE CATALOG privilege on its parent catalog and the USE SCHEMA privilege on its parent schema.

CREATE VOLUME

Applicable object types: SCHEMA, CATALOG

Allows a user to create a volume in the schema. Since privileges are inherited, CREATE VOLUME can also be granted on a catalog, which allows a user to create a volume in any existing or future schema in the catalog.

The user must also have the USE CATALOG privilege on the volume’s parent catalog and the USE SCHEMA privilege on its parent schema.

EXECUTE

Applicable object types: FUNCTION, REGISTERED MODEL

Allows a user to invoke a user defined function or load a model for inference, if the user also has USE CATALOG on its parent catalog and USE SCHEMA on its parent schema. For functions, EXECUTE grants the ability to view the function definition and metadata. For registered models, EXECUTE grants the ability to view metadata for all versions of the registered model, and to download model files.

Since privileges are inherited, you can grant a user the EXECUTE privilege on a catalog or schema, which automatically grants the user the EXECUTE privilege on all current and future functions in the catalog or schema.

MANAGE ALLOWLIST

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

Allows a user to add or modify paths for init scripts, JARs, and Maven coordinates in the allowlist that governs Unity Catalog-enabled clusters with shared access mode. See Allowlist libraries and init scripts on shared compute.

MODIFY

Applicable object types: TABLE

Allows a user to add, update, and delete data to or from the table if the user also has SELECT on the table as well as USE CATALOG on its parent catalog and USE SCHEMA on its parent schema.

Since privileges are inherited, you can grant a user the MODIFY privilege on a catalog or schema, which automatically grants the user the MODIFY privilege on all current and future tables in the catalog or schema.

READ FILES

Applicable object types: VOLUME, EXTERNAL LOCATION

Allows a user to read files directly from your cloud object storage. Databricks recommends granting this privilege on volumes and granting on external locations for limited use cases. For more guidance, see Manage external locations, external tables, and external volumes.

READ VOLUME

Applicable object types: VOLUME, SCHEMA, CATALOG

Allows a user to read files and directories stored inside a volume if the user also has USE CATALOG on its parent catalog and USE SCHEMA on its parent schema.

Privileges are inherited. When you can grant a user the READ VOLUME privilege on a catalog or schema, you automatically grant the user the READ VOLUME privilege on all current and future volumes in the catalog or schema.

SELECT

Applicable object types: TABLE, VIEW, SHARE

If applied to a table or view, allows a user to select from the table or view, if the user also has USE CATALOG on its parent catalog and USE SCHEMA on its parent schema. If applied to a share, allows a recipient to select from the share.

Since privileges are inherited, you can grant a user the SELECT privilege on a catalog or schema, which automatically grants the user SELECT privilege on all current and future tables, and views in the catalog or schema.

USE CATALOG

Applicable object types: CATALOG

This privilege does not grant access to the catalog itself, but is needed for a user to interact with any object within the catalog. For example, to select data from a table, users need to have the SELECT privilege on that table and USE CATALOG privileges on its parent catalog as well as USE SCHEMA privileges on its parent schema.

This is useful for allowing catalog owners to be able to limit how far individual schema and table owners can share data they produce. For example, a table owner granting SELECT to another user does not allow that user read access to the table unless they also have been granted USE CATALOG privileges on its parent catalog as well as USE SCHEMA privileges on its parent schema.

USE CONNECTION

Applicable object types: CONNECTION

Allows a user to list and view details about connections to an external database in a Lakehouse Federation scenario. To create foreign catalogs for a connection, you must have CREATE FOREIGN CATALOG on the connection or ownership of the connection.

USE SCHEMA

Applicable object types: SCHEMA, CATALOG

This privilege does not grant access to the schema itself, but is needed for a user to interact with any object within the schema. For example, to select data from a table, users need to have the SELECT privilege on that table and USE SCHEMA on its parent schema as well as USE CATALOG on its parent catalog.

Since privileges are inherited, you can grant a user the USE SCHEMA privilege on a catalog, which automatically grants the user the USE SCHEMA privilege on all current and future schemas in the catalog.

WRITE FILES

Applicable object types: VOLUME,EXTERNAL LOCATION

Allows a user to write files directly into your cloud object storage. Databricks recommends granting this privilege on volumes. Grant this privilege sparingly on external locations. For more guidance, see Manage external locations, external tables, and external volumes.

WRITE VOLUME

Applicable object types: VOLUME, SCHEMA, CATALOG

Allows a user to add, remove, or modify files and directories stored inside a volume if the user also has USE CATALOG on its parent catalog and USE SCHEMA on its parent schema.

Privileges are inherited. When you can grant a user the WRITE VOLUME privilege on a catalog or schema, you automatically grant the user the WRITE VOLUME privilege on all current and future volumes in the catalog or schema.

Privilege types that apply only to Delta Sharing or Databricks Marketplace

This section provides details about the privilege types that apply only to Delta Sharing.

CREATE PROVIDER

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

Allows a user to create a Delta Sharing provider object in the metastore. A provider identifies an organization or group of users that have shared data using Delta Sharing. Provider creation is performed by a user in the recipient’s Databricks account. See Share data and AI assets securely using Delta Sharing.

CREATE RECIPIENT

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

Allows a user to create a Delta Sharing recipient object in the metastore. A recipient identifies an organization or group of users that can have data shared with them using Delta Sharing. Recipient creation is performed by a user in the provider’s Databricks account. See Share data and AI assets securely using Delta Sharing.

CREATE SHARE

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

Allows a user to create a share in the metastore. A share is a logical grouping for the tables you intend to share using Delta Sharing

SET SHARE PERMISSION

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

In Delta Sharing, this privilege, combined with USE SHARE and USE RECIPIENT (or recipient ownership), gives a provider user the ability to grant a recipient access to a share. Combined with USE SHARE, it gives the ability to transfer ownership of a share to another user, group, or service principal.

USE MARKETPLACE ASSETS

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

Enabled by default for all Unity Catalog metastores. In Databricks Marketplace, this privilege gives a user the ability to get instant access or request access for data products shared in a Marketplace listing. It also allows a user to access the read-only catalog that is created when a provider shares a data product. Without this privilege, the user would require the CREATE CATALOG and USE PROVIDER privileges or the metastore admin role. This enables you to limit the number of users with those powerful permissions.

USE PROVIDER

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

In Delta Sharing, gives a recipient user read-only access to all providers in a recipient metastore and their shares. Combined with the CREATE CATALOG privilege, this privilege allows a recipient user who is not a metastore admin to mount a share as a catalog. This enables you to limit the number of users with the powerful metastore admin role.

USE RECIPIENT

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

In Delta Sharing, gives a provider user read-only access to all recipients in a provider metastore and their shares. This allows a provider user who is not a metastore admin to view recipient details, recipient authentication status, and the list of shares that the provider has shared with the recipient.

In Databricks Marketplace, this gives provider users the ability to view listings and consumer requests in the Provider console.

USE SHARE

Applicable object types: Unity Catalog metastore

In Delta Sharing, gives a provider user read-only access to all shares defined in a provider metastore. This allows a provider user who is not a metastore admin to list shares and list the assets (tables and notebooks) in a share, along with the share’s recipients.

In Databricks Marketplace, this gives provider users the ability to view details about the data shared in a listing.