Workload Identity

Use Workload Identity to access Keyvault.
  • SecretProviderClass
# This is a SecretProviderClass example using workload identity to access Key Vault
kind: SecretProviderClass
  name: azure-kvname-wi
  provider: azure
    usePodIdentity: "false"         # set to true for pod identity access mode
    clientID: "<client id of the Azure AD Application or user-assigned managed identity to use for workload identity>"
    keyvaultName: "kvname"
    cloudName: ""                   # [OPTIONAL for Azure] if not provided, azure environment will default to AzurePublicCloud
    objects:  |
        - |
          objectName: secret1
          objectType: secret        # object types: secret, key or cert
          objectVersion: ""         # [OPTIONAL] object versions, default to latest if empty
        - |
          objectName: key1
          objectType: key
          objectVersion: ""
    tenantID: "tid"                    # the tenant ID of the KeyVault  
  • Pod yaml
# This is a sample pod definition for using SecretProviderClass and workload identity to access Key Vault
kind: Pod
apiVersion: v1
  name: busybox-secrets-store-inline-wi
    - name: busybox
        - "/bin/sleep"
        - "10000"
      - name: secrets-store01-inline
        mountPath: "/mnt/secrets-store"
        readOnly: true
    - name: secrets-store01-inline
        readOnly: true
          secretProviderClass: "azure-kvname-wi"


  • AKS Kubernetes 1.21+ cluster with OIDC Issuer
    • The workload identity feature is implemented using the Token Requests API in CSI driver. This is available by default in Kubernetes 1.21+.
  • Secrets Store CSI Driver v1.1.0+
  • Azure Key Vault Provider v1.1.0+
  • Azure CLI version 2.40.0 or higher. Run az --version to verify.

Configure Workload Identity to access Keyvault

1. Create an Azure AD Application or user-assigned managed identity

Workload Identity Federation is supported for Azure AD Applications and user-assigned managed identity.

# environment variables for the AAD application
export APPLICATION_NAME="<your application name>"
az ad sp create-for-rbac --name "${APPLICATION_NAME}"
export APPLICATION_CLIENT_ID=$(az ad sp list --display-name ${APPLICATION_NAME} --query '[0].appId' -otsv)

NOTE: az ad sp create-for-rbac will create a new application with secret. However, the secret is not required for workload identity federation.

If you want to use a user-assigned managed identity, you can create one using the following command:

export RESOURCE_GROUP=<resource group name>
export USER_ASSIGNED_IDENTITY_NAME="<your user-assigned managed identity name>"
export USER_ASSIGNED_IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID=$(az identity show -g ${RESOURCE_GROUP} -n ${USER_ASSIGNED_IDENTITY_NAME} --query clientId -otsv)

2. Grant workload identity permission to access Keyvault

Ensure that your Azure AD Application or user-assigned managed identity has the role assignments required to access content in keyvault instance. Run the following Azure CLI commands to assign the roles if required:

# set policy to access keys in your Keyvault
az keyvault set-policy -n $KEYVAULT_NAME --key-permissions get --spn ${APPLICATION_CLIENT_ID:-$USER_ASSIGNED_IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID}
# set policy to access secrets in your Keyvault
az keyvault set-policy -n $KEYVAULT_NAME --secret-permissions get --spn ${APPLICATION_CLIENT_ID:-$USER_ASSIGNED_IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID}
# set policy to access certs in your Keyvault
az keyvault set-policy -n $KEYVAULT_NAME --certificate-permissions get --spn ${APPLICATION_CLIENT_ID:-$USER_ASSIGNED_IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID}

3. Establish federated identity credential between the workload identity and the service account issuer & subject

Get the AKS cluster OIDC issuer URL:

# Output the OIDC issuer URL
az aks show --resource-group <resource_group> --name <cluster_name> --query "oidcIssuerProfile.issuerUrl" -otsv

If the URL is empty, ensure the oidc issuer is enabled in the cluster by following these steps. If using other managed cluster, refer to doc for retrieving the OIDC issuer URL.

Using Azure CLI

export SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME=<name of the service account used by the application pod (pod requesting the volume mount)>
export SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAMESPACE=<namespace of the service account>
Using Azure AD Application
# Get the object ID of the AAD application
export APPLICATION_OBJECT_ID="$(az ad app show --id ${APPLICATION_CLIENT_ID} --query id -otsv)"

Add the federated identity credential:

cat <<EOF > params.json
  "name": "kubernetes-federated-credential",
  "issuer": "${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_ISSUER}",
  "subject": "system:serviceaccount:${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAMESPACE}:${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME}",
  "description": "Kubernetes service account federated credential",
  "audiences": [
az ad app federated-credential create --id "${APPLICATION_OBJECT_ID}" --parameters @params.json
Using user-assigned managed identity

Add the federated identity credential:

az identity federated-credential create \
  --name "kubernetes-federated-credential" \
  --identity-name "${USER_ASSIGNED_IDENTITY_NAME}" \
  --resource-group "${RESOURCE_GROUP}" \
  --issuer "${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_ISSUER}" \
  --subject "system:serviceaccount:${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAMESPACE}:${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME}"

4. Deploy your secretproviderclass and application

Set the clientID in the SecretProviderClass to the client ID of the AAD application or user-assigned managed identity.



  1. Supported on both Windows and Linux.
  2. Supports Kubernetes clusters hosted in any cloud or on-premises.