Deploying Azure Web App Certificate through Key Vault

6 minute read • By Ashish Kurmi • May 24, 2016

As part of App Service Certificate (ASC) offering, we now support certificate deployment through Azure Key Vault (AKV). ASC stores the private certificate into a user provided Key Vault Secret (KVS). When an ASC is deployed into a Web App, Web App Resource Provider (RP) actually deploys it from the KVS associated with ASC. Essentially, ASC and Web App are loosely connected through Azure Key Vault. If you manually upload a private certificate into a KVS then you can use the same feature for deploying your own certificate into Web App through AKV.


In order to use this feature, first you need an Azure Key Vault. This Key Vault needs to be in the same subscription as your web app but it need not be in the same region as your Web App. Web App doesn’t have a runtime dependency on Key Vault. When you deploy a certificate, Web App RP reads it from the KV and caches it in its management database. It need not even be in the same resource group. If you don’t have a KV then you can use the following PowerShell command to create a new one:

New-AzureRmKeyVault -VaultName akurmitestvault -ResourceGroupName keyvaulttestrg -Location "eastus2" -Sku standard

By default, the Web App RP doesn’t have access to customer KV. In order to use a KV for certificate deployment, you need to authorize the RP by executing the following PowerShell command:

Set-AzureRmKeyVaultAccessPolicy -VaultName akurmitestvault -ServicePrincipalName abfa0a7c-a6b6-4736-8310-5855508787cd -PermissionsToSecrets get

The RP requires read access to KV. abfa0a7c-a6b6-4736-8310-5855508787cd is the RP service principal name and it remains same for all Azure subscriptions. Note for Azure Gov cloud environment you will need to use 6a02c803-dafd-4136-b4c3-5a6f318b4714 as the RP service principal name in the above command instead of ‘abfa0a7c-a6b6-4736-8310-5855508787cd’. Last thing you need is a KVS that contains the PFX certificate you would like to deploy. Before deploying a certificate, the RP performs the following checks on KVS:

  • It actually contains a PFX certificate that’s not password protected
  • Content type of the secret should be ‘application/x-pkcs12’

You can use the following PowerShell snippet to upload a PFX certificate from your machine into a Key Vault secret:

$pfxFilePath = "F:\KeyVault\PrivateCertificate.pfx"
$pwd = "[2+)t^BgfYZ2C0WAu__gw["
$flag = [System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates.X509KeyStorageFlags]::Exportable
$collection = New-Object System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates.X509Certificate2Collection  
$collection.Import($pfxFilePath, $pwd, $flag)
$pkcs12ContentType = [System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates.X509ContentType]::Pkcs12
$clearBytes = $collection.Export($pkcs12ContentType)
$fileContentEncoded = [System.Convert]::ToBase64String($clearBytes)
$secret = ConvertTo-SecureString -String $fileContentEncoded -AsPlainText Force
$secretContentType = 'application/x-pkcs12'
Set-AzureKeyVaultSecret -VaultName akurmitestvault -Name keyVaultCert -SecretValue $Secret -ContentType $secretContentType # Change the Key Vault name and secret name

Deploying Key Vault Certificate into Web App

After completing all prerequisites, now we are ready to deploy the certificate into a Web App. Currently, Azure portal doesn’t support deploying external certificate from Key Vault, you need to call Web App ARM APIs directly using ArmClient, Resource Explorer, or Template Deployment Engine. I will be using ARMClient for the rest of this blogpost. You can also use Resource Explorer to do everything described below.

We need to find the resource group for certificate resource before calling the ARM APIs as it ideally we should use App Service Plan’s resource group, you can find this from ‘serverFarmId’ property of the site resource:

ARMClient GET /subscriptions/fb2c25dc-6bab-45c4-8cc9-cece7c42a95a/resourceGroups/Default-Web-EastAsia/providers/Microsoft.Web/sites/appservicecertificatedemo?api-version=2016-03-01`

And here is the response:

  "id": "/subscriptions/fb2c25dc-6bab-45c4-8cc9-cece7c42a95a/resourceGroups/Default-Web-EastAsia/providers/Microsoft.Web/sites/appservicecertificatedemo",
  "name": "appservicecertificatedemo",
  "type": "Microsoft.Web/sites",
  "location": "<strong>East Asia</strong>",
    "serverFarmId": "<strong>/subscriptions/fb2c25dc-6bab-45c4-8cc9-cece7c42a95a/resourceGroups/Default-Web-EastAsia/providers/Microsoft.Web/serverfarms/appservicecertificatedemoplan</strong>",

Also note the following properties from this response:

  • Location since certificate resource needs be created in the same location as server farm.
  • ServerFarmId as it would be required to create certificate resource. We would also use the resource group name specified in this resource id.

We also need Key Vault resource URI to deploy the certificate. You can get this value by executing the following PowerShell command:

Get-AzureRmKeyVault -VaultName akurmitestvault
Vault Name                       : akurmitestvault
Resource Group Name              : keyvaulttestrg
Location                         : eastus2
Resource ID                      : <strong>/subscriptions/fb2c25dc-6bab-45c4-8cc9-cece7c42a95a/resourceGroups/keyvaulttestrg/providers/Microsoft.KeyVault/vaults/akurmitestvault</strong>
Vault URI                        :

Once you have these values, you can use the following ARMClient command to upload the certificate into your Web App. Note that in order to call this API, the caller needs to have write access to the Key Vault account specified in the request body.

ARMClient.exe PUT /subscriptions/<Subscription Id>/resourceGroups/<Server Farm Resource Group>/providers/Microsoft.Web/certificates/<User Friendly Resource Name>?api-version=2016-03-01 "{'Location':'&lt;Web App Location&gt;','Properties':{'KeyVaultId':'<Key Vault Resource Id>', 'KeyVaultSecretName':'<Secret Name>', 'serverFarmId':'<Server Farm (App Service Plan) resource Id>'}}"

Here is an example wil my values, yours will be different.

ARMClient.exe PUT /subscriptions/fb2c25dc-6bab-45c4-8cc9-cece7c42a95a/resourceGroups/Default-Web-EastAsia/providers/Microsoft.Web/certificates/keyvaultcertificate?api-version=2016-03-01 "{'Location':'East Asia','Properties':{'KeyVaultId':'/subscriptions/fb2c25dc-6bab-45c4-8cc9-cece7c42a95a/resourceGroups/keyvaulttestrg/providers/Microsoft.KeyVault/vaults/akurmitestvault', 'KeyVaultSecretName':'keyVaultCert', 'serverFarmId': '/subscriptions/fb2c25dc-6bab-45c4-8cc9-cece7c42a95a/resourceGroups/Default-Web-EastAsia/providers/Microsoft.Web/serverfarms/appservicecertificatedemoplan'}}"

And here is the response:

  "location":"East Asia",

After executing this command, the certificate would be listed under ‘Custom Domains and SSL’ blade in Azure portal. Now you can use this certificate to create SSL bindings just like a regular certificate as described in this article. You can also use the following ARMClient command to create SSL binding for custom hostname ‘’. If the custom hostname you want to use in this call is not already added to the website, then you should also create the DNS records required for verification as described here.


ARMClient.exe PUT /subscriptions/fb2c25dc-6bab-45c4-8cc9-cece7c42a95a/resourceGroups/Default-Web-EastAsia/providers/Microsoft.Web/sites/appservicecertificatedemo/hostnameBindings/ "{'Location':'East Asia','properties':{'sslState':'SniEnabled','thumbprint':'F454D4277D449D8CD2384B63D7AA2F2F7F3766E4'}}"


  "id": "/subscriptions/fb2c25dc-6bab-45c4-8cc9-cece7c42a95a/resourceGroups/Default-Web-EastAsia/providers/Microsoft.Web/sites/appservicecertificatedemo/hostNameBindings/",
  "name": "appservicecertificatedemo/",
  "type": "Microsoft.Web/sites/hostNameBindings",
  "location": "East Asia",
  "tags": null,
  "properties": {
    "siteName": "appservicecertificatedemo",
    "domainId": null,
    "azureResourceName": "appservicecertificatedemo",
    "azureResourceType": "Website",
    "customHostNameDnsRecordType": "A",
    "hostNameType": "Managed",
    "sslState": "SniEnabled",
    "thumbprint": "F454D4277D449D8CD2384B63D7AA2F2F7F3766E4"

If you want to create an IP-based SSL binding instead of SNI then replace ‘SniEnabled’ with ‘IpBasedEnabled’ in the ARMClient command. You can also access this certificate from your Web App once it’s uploaded instead of creating SSL binding as described in this blog.

Rotating Certificate

Once a certificate has been deployed through KVS, follow these steps to rotate it:

  1. Update the KVS with a new certificate
  2. Call the Create Certificate API again with the same body. This would update the certificate resource and migrate all Web Apps that are using it to the new certificate The Web App RP has a batch job that periodically syncs all Web App certificate resources with the associated Key Vault secret so if you don’t call the Create Certificate API after updating the KVS, then this periodic job would eventually migrate the Web Apps to the new certificate.

Deploying other secrets from Key Vault

You may ask, deploying a certificate from KVS is fine. But what about deploying other secrets from KV such as connection strings? Currently, our platform only supports certificate deployment through Key Vault. You can however, use this feature and write some custom code to deploy generic Key Vault secrets into your Web App. Say your application requires a symmetric encryption key and a SQL connection string. You can follow these steps to deploy your app secrets through Key Vault:

  1. Store the connection string and symmetric key in a Key Vault as individual secrets
  2. Create a self-signed certificate and authorize it to read Key Vault Secrets as described here
  3. Store this certificate in the Key Vault
  4. Deploy the certificate through KVS and create the required App Setting so that it would be available locally for your Web App to use
  5. In the Application_Start event, use this certificate to read secrets from Key Vault and update web.config if required

ARM Template to deploy and Assign KV Certificate

You can use the following ARM template to deploy a certificate through KVS and create SSL bindings for a custom hostname: