Tutorial: Integrate Azure Key Vault in Resource Manager Template deployment

Learn how to retrieve secret values from Azure Key Vault and pass the secret values as parameters during Resource Manager deployment. The value is never exposed because you only reference its Key Vault ID. For more information, see Use Azure Key Vault to pass secure parameter value during deployment

In the Set resource deployment order tutorial, you create a virtual machine, a virtual network, and some other dependent resources. In this tutorial, you customize the template to retrieve the virtual machine administrator password from Azure Key Vault.

This tutorial covers the following tasks:

  • Prepare the Key Vault
  • Open a QuickStart template
  • Edit the parameters file
  • Deploy the template
  • Validate the deployment
  • Clean up resources

If you don't have an Azure subscription, create a free account before you begin.


To complete this article, you need:

Prepare the Key Vault

In this section, you use a Resource Manager template to create a Key Vault and a secret. This template does:

  • Create a Key Vault with the enabledForTemplateDeployment property enables. This property must be true before the template deployment process can access the secrets defined in this Key Vault.
  • Add a secret to the Key Vault. The secret stores the virtual machine administrator password.

If you (as the user to deploy the virtual machine template) are not the owner or the contributor of the Key Vault, the Owner or a Contributor of the Key Vault must grant you the access to the Microsoft.KeyVault/vaults/deploy/action permission for the Key Vault. For more information, see Use Azure Key Vault to pass secure parameter value during deployment

Your Azure AD user object ID is needed by the template to configure permissions. The following procedure gets the object ID (GUID) and also generates the administrator password. To prevent the password spray attack, it is recommended to use generated passwords.

  1. Run the following Azure PowerShell or Azure CLI command.

    echo "Enter your email address that is associated with your Azure subscription):" &&
    read upn &&
    az ad user show --upn-or-object-id $upn --query "objectId" &&
    openssl rand -base64 32
    $upn = Read-Host -Prompt "Input your user principal name (email address) used to sign in to Azure"
    (Get-AzureADUser -ObjectId $upn).ObjectId
    openssl rand -base64 32
  2. Write down both the object ID and the generated password. You need them later.
  3. Verify the generated password meets the virtual machine password requirements. Each Azure service has specific password requirements. For the VM password requirements, see What are the password requirements when creating a VM?.

To create a Key Vault:

  1. Select the following image to sign in to Azure and open a template. The template creates a Key Vault and a Key Vault secret.

    deploy to azure

  2. Select or enter the following values. Don't select Purchase after you enter the values.

    Resource Manager template Key Vault integration deploy portal

    • Subscription: select an Azure subscription.
    • Resource group: assign a unique name. Write down this name, you use the same resource group to deploy the virtual machine in the next session. Placing both the Key Vault and the virtual machine in the same resource group makes it easier to clean up the resource at the end of the tutorial.
    • Location: select a location. The default location is Central US.
    • Key Vault Name: assign a unique name.
    • Tenant Id: the template function automatically retrieve your tenant id. Don't change the default value
    • Ad User Id: enter your Azure AD user object ID that you retrieved from the last procedure.
    • Secret Name: The default name is vmAdminPassword. If you change the secret name here, you need to update the secret name when you deploy the virtual machine.
    • Secret Value: Enter your secret. The secret is the password used to sign in to the virtual machine. It is recommended to use the generated password you created in the last procedure.
    • I agree to the terms and conditions state above: Select.
  3. Select Edit parameters from the top to take a look of the template.
  4. Browse to line 28 of the template JSON file. This is the Key Vault resource definition.
  5. Browse to line 35:

    "enabledForTemplateDeployment": true,

    enabledForTemplateDeployment is a Key Vault property. This property must be true before you can retrieve the secrets from this Key Vault during deployment.

  6. Browse to line 89. This is the Key Vault secret definition.
  7. Select Discard from the bottom of the page. You didn't make any changes.
  8. Verify you have provided all the values as shown in the previous screenshot, and then click Purchase at the bottom of the page.
  9. Select the bell icon (notification) from the top of the page to open the Notifications pane. Wait until the resource is deployed successfully.
  10. Select Go to resource group from the Notifications pane.
  11. Select the Key Vault name to open it.
  12. Select Access policies from the left pane. Your name (Active Directory) shall be listed, otherwise you don't have the permission to access the key vault.
  13. Select Click to show advanced access policies. Notice Enable access to Azure Resource Manager for template deployment is selected. This is another condition to make the Key Vault integration to work.

    Resource Manager template Key Vault integration access policies

  14. Select Properties from the left pane.
  15. Make a copy of Resource ID. You need this ID when you deploy the virtual machine. The Resource ID format is:


Open a Quickstart template

Azure QuickStart Templates is a repository for Resource Manager templates. Instead of creating a template from scratch, you can find a sample template and customize it. The template used in this tutorial is called Deploy a simple Windows VM.

  1. From Visual Studio Code, select File>Open File.
  2. In File name, paste the following URL:

  3. Select Open to open the file. It is the same scenario used in Tutorial: create Azure Resource Manager templates with dependent resources.
  4. There are five resources defined by the template:

  5. Select File>Save As to save a copy of the file to your local computer with the name azuredeploy.json.
  6. Repeat steps 1-4 to open the following URL, and then save the file as azuredeploy.parameters.json.


Edit the parameters file

You don't need to make any changes to the template file.

  1. Open azuredeploy.parameters.json in Visual Studio Code if it is not opened.
  2. Update the adminPassword parameter to:

    "adminPassword": {
        "reference": {
            "keyVault": {
            "id": "/subscriptions/<SubscriptionID>/resourceGroups/mykeyvaultdeploymentrg/providers/Microsoft.KeyVault/vaults/<KeyVaultName>"
            "secretName": "vmAdminPassword"

    Replace the id with the resource ID of your Key Vault created in the last procedure.

    integrate key vault and Resource Manager template virtual machine deployment parameters file

  3. Give the values to:

    • adminUsername: name the virtual machine administrator account.
    • dnsLabelPrefix: name the dnsLabelPrefix.
  4. Save the changes.

Deploy the template

Follow the instructions in Deploy the template to deploy the template. You need to upload both azuredeploy.json and azuredeploy.parameters.json to the Cloud shell, and then use the following PowerShell script to deploy the template:

$resourceGroupName = Read-Host -Prompt "Enter the resource group name of the Key Vault"
$deploymentName = Read-Host -Prompt "Enter the name for this deployment"
New-AzureRmResourceGroupDeployment -Name $deploymentName -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroupName `
    -TemplateFile azuredeploy.json -TemplateParameterFile azuredeploy.parameters.json

When you deploy the template, use the same resource group as the Key Vault. It makes easier when you clean up the resources. You only need to delete one resource group instead of two.

Valid the deployment

After you have successfully deployed the virtual machine, test the login using the password stored in the Key Vault.

  1. Open the Azure portal.
  2. Select Resource grouips/YourResourceGroupName>/simpleWinVM
  3. Select connect from the top.
  4. Select Download RDP File and then follow the instructions to sign in into the virtual machine using the password stored in the Key Vault.

Clean up resources

When the Azure resources are no longer needed, clean up the resources you deployed by deleting the resource group.

  1. From the Azure portal, select Resource group from the left menu.
  2. Enter the resource group name in the Filter by name field.
  3. Select the resource group name. You shall see a total of six resources in the resource group.
  4. Select Delete resource group from the top menu.

Next steps

In this tutorial, you retrieved a secret from Azure Key Vault, and used the secret in your template deployment. To learn how to create linked templates, see: