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Terraform Authentication on AKS

If you're using an AKS cluster as your execution host, and you want to run Terraform that deploys resources on Azure, you can use a pod managed identity to do the authentication and permissions between the pod and the Azure account where the resources will be created.

The basic process is as follows:

Configure the pod managed identity​

In this procedure, you will attach a Torque Terraform runner pod to a managed identity.


  • Azure CLI installed locally or use Azure CLI in Azure portal

To configure the pod managed identity:

  1. Update Azure cli:

    az update
  2. Register the EnablePodIdentityPreview feature:

    az feature register --name EnablePodIdentityPreview --namespace Microsoft.ContainerService
  3. Install the aks-preview Azure CLI:

    az extension add --name aks-preview
    az extension update --name aks-preview
  4. Add Azure Container Networking Interface (CNI) to AKS.

    • If you don’t have AKS then create one with azure CNI:

      az group create --name myResourceGroup --location eastus
      az aks create -g myResourceGroup -n myAKSCluster --enable-pod-identity --network-plugin azure
    • If you have an existing AKS then update it with Azure CNI:

      az aks update -g $MY_RESOURCE_GROUP -n $MY_CLUSTER --enable-pod-identity
  5. Create identity:

    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)"
  6. Add contributor permissions to the managed identity at the subscription level using azure portal (or the required permissions for TF to deploy the resources in azure):

    a. Go to the Subscriptions page (type in the search box “subscriptions”).

    b. Click the appropriate subscription.

    c. Select Access Control (IAM).

    d. Click + Add and select Add role assignment.

    e. Select Contributor and click Next.

    f. In the Members page, select the User, group or service principle option and click the + Select members link.

    g. Use the search bar to find and select the managed identity. Then, click Select.

  7. Create a pod identity in the sandbox namespace, if you don’t have one the choose/create a namespace for the sandboxes:

    export POD_IDENTITY_NAME="my-pod-identity"
    export POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE="<sandbox_namespace>"
    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}
  8. Once the pod identity is created, Azure will create an AzureIdentity resource in your cluster. This resource represents the identity in Azure, and an AzureIdentityBinding resource, which connects the AzureIdentity to a selector. You can view these resources with the following commands:

    kubectl get azureidentity -n $POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE
    kubectl get azureidentitybinding -n $POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE
  9. Get the aadpodidbinding pod label, which is needed to support Terraform authentication on AKS:

    To use AAD pod-managed identity, the pod needs an aadpodidbinding label with a value that matches a selector from a AzureIdentityBinding. By default, the selector matches the name of the pod identity, but you can also set it using the --binding-selector option when calling az aks pod-identity add.

Configure Torque's Terraform authentication on AKS​


  • Subscription ID

  • Tenant ID (displayed in the Azure Active Directory > Overview)

  • Managed identity ID – ID of the managed identity configured with pod managed identity (click Managed Identities > the name of the managed identity > Client ID).

  • Azure identity binding selector – The selector value of the AzureIdentityBinding entity. This value will be used as a label for the Terraform runner pod, thus creating the binding between the pod and the managed identity.

    To find the identity binding selector:

    1. In Azure CLI, run kubectl get azureidentitybinding -o json -n <azure_identity_namespace> (if you don't know the namespace name, omit -n <azure_identity_namespace>).
    2. Select the appropriate azureidentitybinding, located under "spec" -> "azureIdentity" of the azureidentitybinding - look for the one that has your azure identity name.
    3. Once you find the appropriate azureidentitybinding, in json output, you will find the Azure identity binding selector value under spec > selector.

      Locale Dropdown

There are 2 ways to provide these details:

  1. Adding AKS: When adding a new AKS, the Azure user can provide these details under Default credentials.

  2. Blueprint: The Torque user can override the default credentials defined in the AKS, or create one no credentials were supplied.

    a. Under env-vars of the Terraform grain add the following:

    ARM_USE_MSI: true
    ARM_SUBSCRIPTION_ID: <Subscription_ID>
    ARM_TENANT_ID: <Tenant_ID>
    ARM_CLIENT_ID: <Client_ID>

    b. In the Terraform grain, specify the selector value of the Azure identity binding under spec > host:

    - aadpodidbinding: <pod-identity-name>

    As you can see, we added a new section called “kubernetes” for all Kubernetes configurations, which includes pod-labels. Any values provided under pod-labels will be used as labels for the Terraform runner pod. See the following blueprint YAML as an example:

     spec_version: 2

    description: Azure RG.

    type: string
    display-style: normal

    kind: terraform
    store: terraform_repo
    path: terraform/azure-RG
    name: '{{ .inputs.host_name }}'
    - aadpodidbinding: my-pod-identity
    - ARM_USE_MSI: true
    - ARM_SUBSCRIPTION_ID: 0d266a1e-f6w3-4ec5-96a1-061539f16j32
    - ARM_TENANT_ID: a2526a87-7777-4f7c-95gt-4f0f57136553
    - ARM_CLIENT_ID: 108e6546-da2c-46ab-b00a-4fe987d33657
    tf-version: 1.2.3