Use Azure Active Directory pod-managed identities in Azure Kubernetes Service (Preview)

Azure Active Directory pod-managed identities uses Kubernetes primitives to associate managed identities for Azure resources and identities in Azure Active Directory (AAD) with pods. Administrators create identities and bindings as Kubernetes primitives that allow pods to access Azure resources that rely on AAD as an identity provider.


AKS preview features are available on a self-service, opt-in basis. Previews are provided "as is" and "as available," and they're excluded from the service-level agreements and limited warranty. AKS previews are partially covered by customer support on a best-effort basis. As such, these features aren't meant for production use. AKS preview features aren't available in Azure Government or Azure China 21Vianet clouds. For more information, see the following support articles:

Before you begin

You must have the following resource installed:

  • The Azure CLI, version 2.8.0 or later
  • The azure-preview extension version 0.4.68 or later


  • A maximum of 50 pod identities are allowed for a cluster.
  • A maximum of 50 pod identity exceptions are allowed for a cluster.
  • Pod-managed identities are available on Linux node pools only.

Register the EnablePodIdentityPreview

Register the EnablePodIdentityPreview feature:

az feature register --name EnablePodIdentityPreview --namespace Microsoft.ContainerService

Install the aks-preview Azure CLI

You also need the aks-preview Azure CLI extension version 0.4.64 or later. Install the aks-preview Azure CLI extension by using the az extension add command. Or install any available updates by using the az extension update command.

# Install the aks-preview extension
az extension add --name aks-preview

# Update the extension to make sure you have the latest version installed
az extension update --name aks-preview

Create an AKS cluster with managed identities

Create an AKS cluster with a managed identity and pod-managed identity enabled. The following commands use az group create to create a resource group named myResourceGroup and the az aks create command to create an AKS cluster named myAKSCluster in the myResourceGroup resource group.

az group create --name myResourceGroup --location eastus
az aks create -g myResourceGroup -n myAKSCluster --enable-managed-identity --enable-pod-identity --network-plugin azure

Use az aks get-credentials to sign in to your AKS cluster. This command also downloads and configures the kubectl client certificate on your development computer.

az aks get-credentials --resource-group myResourceGroup --name myAKSCluster

Create an identity

Create an identity using az identity create and set the IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID and IDENTITY_RESOURCE_ID variables.

az group create --name myIdentityResourceGroup --location eastus
export IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP="myIdentityResourceGroup"
export IDENTITY_NAME="application-identity"
az identity create --resource-group ${IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP} --name ${IDENTITY_NAME}
export IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID="$(az identity show -g ${IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP} -n ${IDENTITY_NAME} --query clientId -otsv)"
export IDENTITY_RESOURCE_ID="$(az identity show -g ${IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP} -n ${IDENTITY_NAME} --query id -otsv)"

Create a pod identity

Create a pod identity for the cluster using az aks pod-identity add.


You must have the appropriate permissions, such as Owner, on your subscription to create the identity and role binding.

export POD_IDENTITY_NAME="my-pod-identity"
az aks pod-identity add --resource-group myResourceGroup --cluster-name myAKSCluster --namespace ${POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE}  --name ${POD_IDENTITY_NAME} --identity-resource-id ${IDENTITY_RESOURCE_ID}


When you enable pod-managed identity on your AKS cluster, an AzurePodIdentityException named aks-addon-exception is added to the kube-system namespace. An AzurePodIdentityException allows pods with certain labels to access the Azure Instance Metadata Service (IMDS) endpoint without being intercepted by the node-managed identity (NMI) server. The aks-addon-exception allows AKS first-party addons, such as AAD pod-managed identity, to operate without having to manually configure an AzurePodIdentityException. Optionally, you can add, remove, and update an AzurePodIdentityException using az aks pod-identity exception add, az aks pod-identity exception delete, az aks pod-identity exception update, or kubectl.

Run a sample application

For a pod to use AAD pod-managed identity, the pod needs an aadpodidbinding label with a value that matches a selector from a AzureIdentityBinding. To run a sample application using AAD pod-managed identity, create a demo.yaml file with the following contents. Replace POD_IDENTITY_NAME, IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID, and IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP with the values from the previous steps. Replace SUBSCRIPTION_ID with your subscription id.


In the previous steps, you created the POD_IDENTITY_NAME, IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID, and IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP variables. You can use a command such as echo to display the value you set for variables, for example echo $IDENTITY_NAME.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: demo
    aadpodidbinding: POD_IDENTITY_NAME
  - name: demo
      - --subscriptionid=SUBSCRIPTION_ID
      - --clientid=IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID
      - --resourcegroup=IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP
      - name: MY_POD_NAME
      - name: MY_POD_NAMESPACE
            fieldPath: metadata.namespace
      - name: MY_POD_IP
            fieldPath: status.podIP
  nodeSelector: linux

Notice the pod definition has an aadpodidbinding label with a value that matches the name of the pod identity you ran az aks pod-identity add in the previous step.

Deploy demo.yaml to the same namespace as your pod identity using kubectl apply:

kubectl apply -f demo.yaml --namespace $POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE

Verify the sample application successfully runs using kubectl logs.

kubectl logs demo --follow --namespace $POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE

Verify the logs show the a token is successfully acquired and the GET operation is successful.

successfully doARMOperations vm count 0
successfully acquired a token using the MSI, msiEndpoint(
successfully acquired a token, userAssignedID MSI, msiEndpoint( clientID(xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx)
successfully made GET on instance metadata

Clean up

To remove AAD pod-managed identity from your cluster, remove the sample application and the pod identity from the cluster. Then remove the identity.

kubectl delete pod demo --namespace $POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE
az aks pod-identity delete --name ${POD_IDENTITY_NAME} --namespace ${POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE} --resource-group myResourceGroup --cluster-name myAKSCluster
az identity delete -g ${IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP} -n ${IDENTITY_NAME}

Next steps

For more information on managed identities, see Managed identities for Azure resources.