Authentication in Azure Service Operator

There are two key topics surrounding authentication in Azure Service Operator: The type of credential, and the credential scope.

Credential type

Azure Service Operator supports four different styles of authentication today.

  1. [Recommended for production] Azure-Workload-Identity authentication (OIDC + Managed Identity or Service Principal)
  2. Service Principal using a Client Secret
  3. Service Principal using a Client Certificate
  4. [Deprecated] aad-pod-identity authentication (Managed Identity)

Credential scope

Each supported credential type can be specified at one of three supported scopes:

  1. [Not recommended] Global - The credential applies to all resources managed by ASO.
  2. Namespace - The credential applies to all resources managed by ASO in that namespace.
  3. Resource - The credential applies to only the specific resource it is referenced on.

When presented with multiple credential choices, the operator chooses the most specific one: resource scope takes precedence over namespace scope which takes precedence over global scope.

Warning: The operator identity is used to access the global, namespace, and resource scoped secrets. A user with access to create ASO resources but without Kubernetes secret read permissions can still direct ASO to use a secret the user cannot read. The user cannot access the contents of the secret, but they can manage resources in Azure via the identity the secret represents.

The namespace is the security boundary. ASO will not allow users to read secrets from other namespaces. We recommend using separate namespaces for separate environments (dev, test, prod, etc) for this reason

Using multiple operators with a single credential per operator

This mode is not recommended unless you really need it

ASO also supports installing multiple instances of the operator alongside one another, each configured with different credentials.

This option exists for the most security conscious customers.


  • Each operator pod only has access to a single credential, reducing risk if one pod is somehow compromised.


  • Significantly harder to orchestrate ASO upgrades.
  • More kube-apiserver load, as there will be multiple operators running and watching/reconciling resources.

For more details about this approach, see multitenant deployment