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Use managed identities for AKS cluster authentication#

Security · Azure Kubernetes Service · 2020_06

Configure AKS clusters to use managed identities for managing cluster infrastructure.


During the lifecycle of an AKS cluster, the control plane configures a number of Azure resources. This includes node pools, networking, storage and other supporting services.

When making calls against the Azure REST APIs, an identity must be used to authenticate requests. The type of identity the control plane will use is configurable at cluster creation. Either a service principal or system-assigned managed identity can be used.

By default, the service principal credentials are valid for one year. Service principal credentials must be rotated before expiry to prevent issues. You can update or rotate the service principal credentials at any time.

Using a system-assigned managed identity abstracts the process of managing a service principal. The managed identity is automatically created/ removed with the cluster. Managed identities also reduce maintenance (and improve security) by automatically rotating credentials.

Separately, applications within an AKS cluster may use managed identities with AAD Pod Identity.


Consider using managed identities during AKS cluster creation. Additionally, consider redeploying the AKS cluster with managed identities instead of service principals.


AKS clusters can not be updated to use managed identities for cluster infrastructure after deployment.

Last update: 2023-09-10