Use Microsoft Entra pod-managed identities in Azure Kubernetes Service (Preview)

Microsoft Entra pod-managed identities use Kubernetes primitives to associate managed identities for Azure resources and identities in Microsoft Entra ID with pods. Administrators create identities and bindings as Kubernetes primitives that allow pods to access Azure resources that rely on Microsoft Entra ID as an identity provider.


We recommend you review Microsoft Entra Workload ID. This authentication method replaces pod-managed identity (preview), which integrates with the Kubernetes native capabilities to federate with any external identity providers on behalf of the application.

The open source Microsoft Entra pod-managed identity (preview) in Azure Kubernetes Service was deprecated on 10/24/2022, and the project archived in Sept. 2023. For more information, see the deprecation notice. The AKS Managed add-on begins deprecation in Sept. 2024.

To disable the AKS Managed add-on, use the following command: az feature unregister --namespace "Microsoft.ContainerService" --name "EnablePodIdentityPreview".

Before you begin

You must have the Azure CLI version 2.20.0 or later installed.


  • A maximum of 200 pod-managed identities are allowed for a cluster.
  • A maximum of 200 pod-managed identity exceptions are allowed for a cluster.
  • Pod-managed identities are available on Linux node pools only.
  • This feature is only supported for Virtual Machine Scale Sets backed clusters.

Install the aks-preview Azure CLI extension


AKS preview features are available on a self-service, opt-in basis. Previews are provided "as is" and "as available," and they're excluded from the service-level agreements and limited warranty. AKS previews are partially covered by customer support on a best-effort basis. As such, these features aren't meant for production use. For more information, see the following support articles:

To install the aks-preview extension, run the following command:

az extension add --name aks-preview

Run the following command to update to the latest version of the extension released:

az extension update --name aks-preview

Register the 'EnablePodIdentityPreview' feature flag

Register the EnablePodIdentityPreview feature flag by using the az feature register command, as shown in the following example:

az feature register --namespace "Microsoft.ContainerService" --name "EnablePodIdentityPreview"

It takes a few minutes for the status to show Registered. Verify the registration status by using the az feature show command:

az feature show --namespace "Microsoft.ContainerService" --name "EnablePodIdentityPreview"

When the status reflects Registered, refresh the registration of the Microsoft.ContainerService resource provider by using the az provider register command:

az provider register --namespace Microsoft.ContainerService

Operation mode options

Microsoft Entra pod-managed identity supports two modes of operation:

  • Standard Mode: In this mode, the following two components are deployed to the AKS cluster:
    • Managed Identity Controller (MIC): An MIC is a Kubernetes controller that watches for changes to pods, AzureIdentity and AzureIdentityBinding through the Kubernetes API Server. When it detects a relevant change, the MIC adds or deletes AzureAssignedIdentity as needed. Specifically, when a pod is scheduled, the MIC assigns the managed identity on Azure to the underlying Virtual Machine Scale Set used by the node pool during the creation phase. When all pods using the identity are deleted, it removes the identity from the Virtual Machine Scale Set of the node pool, unless the same managed identity is used by other pods. The MIC takes similar actions when AzureIdentity or AzureIdentityBinding are created or deleted.
    • Node Managed Identity (NMI): NMI is a pod that runs as a DaemonSet on each node in the AKS cluster. NMI intercepts security token requests to the Azure Instance Metadata Service on each node, redirect them to itself and validates if the pod has access to the identity it's requesting a token for and fetch the token from the Microsoft Entra tenant on behalf of the application.
  • Managed Mode: This mode offers only NMI. When installed via the AKS cluster add-on, Azure manages creation of Kubernetes primitives (AzureIdentity and AzureIdentityBinding) and identity assignment in response to CLI commands by the user. Otherwise, if installed via Helm chart, the identity needs to be manually assigned and managed by the user. For more information, see Pod identity in managed mode.

When you install the Microsoft Entra pod-managed identity via Helm chart or YAML manifest as shown in the Installation Guide, you can choose between the standard and managed mode. If you instead decide to install the Microsoft Entra pod-managed identity using the AKS cluster add-on as shown in this article, the setup will use the managed mode.

Create an AKS cluster with Azure Container Networking Interface (CNI)


This is the default recommended configuration

Create an AKS cluster with Azure CNI and pod-managed identity enabled. The following commands use az group create to create a resource group named myResourceGroup and the az aks create command to create an AKS cluster named myAKSCluster in the myResourceGroup resource group.

az group create --name myResourceGroup --location eastus
az aks create \
    --resource-group myResourceGroup \
    --name myAKSCluster \
    --enable-pod-identity \
    --network-plugin azure \

Use az aks get-credentials to sign in to your AKS cluster. This command also downloads and configures the kubectl client certificate on your development computer.

az aks get-credentials --resource-group myResourceGroup --name myAKSCluster


When you enable pod-managed identity on your AKS cluster, an AzurePodIdentityException named aks-addon-exception is added to the kube-system namespace. An AzurePodIdentityException allows pods with certain labels to access the Azure Instance Metadata Service (IMDS) endpoint without being intercepted by the NMI server. The aks-addon-exception allows AKS first-party addons, such as Microsoft Entra pod-managed identity, to operate without having to manually configure an AzurePodIdentityException. Optionally, you can add, remove, and update an AzurePodIdentityException using az aks pod-identity exception add, az aks pod-identity exception delete, az aks pod-identity exception update, or kubectl.

Update an existing AKS cluster with Azure CNI

Update an existing AKS cluster with Azure CNI to include pod-managed identity.

az aks update --resource-group $MY_RESOURCE_GROUP --name $MY_CLUSTER --enable-pod-identity

Using Kubenet network plugin with Microsoft Entra pod-managed identities


Running Microsoft Entra pod-managed identity in a cluster with Kubenet is not a recommended configuration due to security concerns. Default Kubenet configuration fails to prevent ARP spoofing, which could be utilized by a pod to act as another pod and gain access to an identity it's not intended to have. Please follow the mitigation steps and configure policies before enabling Microsoft Entra pod-managed identity in a cluster with Kubenet.


To mitigate the vulnerability at the cluster level, you can use the Azure built-in policy "Kubernetes cluster containers should only use allowed capabilities" to limit the CAP_NET_RAW attack.

Add NET_RAW to "Required drop capabilities"


If you are not using Azure Policy, you can use OpenPolicyAgent admission controller together with Gatekeeper validating webhook. Provided you have Gatekeeper already installed in your cluster, add the ConstraintTemplate of type K8sPSPCapabilities:

kubectl apply -f

Add a template to limit the spawning of Pods with the NET_RAW capability:

kind: K8sPSPCapabilities
  name: prevent-net-raw
      - apiGroups: [""]
        kinds: ["Pod"]
      - "kube-system"
    requiredDropCapabilities: ["NET_RAW"]

Create an AKS cluster with Kubenet network plugin

Create an AKS cluster with Kubenet network plugin and pod-managed identity enabled.

az aks create \
    --resource-group $MY_RESOURCE_GROUP \
    --name $MY_CLUSTER \
    --enable-pod-identity \
    --enable-pod-identity-with-kubenet \

Update an existing AKS cluster with Kubenet network plugin

Update an existing AKS cluster with Kubenet network plugin to include pod-managed identity.

az aks update --resource-group $MY_RESOURCE_GROUP --name $MY_CLUSTER --enable-pod-identity --enable-pod-identity-with-kubenet

Create an identity


You must have the relevant permissions (for example, Owner) on your subscription to create the identity.

Create an identity which will be used by the demo pod with az identity create and set the IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID and IDENTITY_RESOURCE_ID variables.

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 --resource-group ${IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP} --name ${IDENTITY_NAME} --query clientId -o tsv)"
export IDENTITY_RESOURCE_ID="$(az identity show --resource-group ${IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP} --name ${IDENTITY_NAME} --query id -o tsv)"

Assign permissions for the managed identity

The managed identity that will be assigned to the pod needs to be granted permissions that align with the actions it will be taking.

To run the demo, the IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID managed identity must have Virtual Machine Contributor permissions in the resource group that contains the Virtual Machine Scale Set of your AKS cluster.

# Obtain the name of the resource group containing the Virtual Machine Scale set of your AKS cluster, commonly called the node resource group
NODE_GROUP=$(az aks show --resource-group myResourceGroup --name myAKSCluster --query nodeResourceGroup -o tsv)

# Obtain the id of the node resource group 
NODES_RESOURCE_ID=$(az group show --name $NODE_GROUP -o tsv --query "id")

# Create a role assignment granting your managed identity permissions on the node resource group
az role assignment create --role "Virtual Machine Contributor" --assignee "$IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID" --scope $NODES_RESOURCE_ID

Create a pod identity

Create a pod-managed identity for the cluster using az aks pod-identity add.

export POD_IDENTITY_NAME="my-pod-identity"
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}


The "POD_IDENTITY_NAME" has to be a valid DNS subdomain name as defined in RFC 1123.


When you assign the pod-managed identity by using pod-identity add, the Azure CLI attempts to grant the Managed Identity Operator role over the pod-managed identity (IDENTITY_RESOURCE_ID) to the cluster identity.

Azure will create an AzureIdentity resource in your cluster representing the identity in Azure, and an AzureIdentityBinding resource which connects the AzureIdentity to a selector. You can view these resources with

kubectl get azureidentity -n $POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE
kubectl get azureidentitybinding -n $POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE

Run a sample application

For a pod to use Microsoft Entra pod-managed identity, the pod needs an aadpodidbinding label with a value that matches a selector from a AzureIdentityBinding. By default, the selector will match the name of the pod-managed identity, but it can also be set using the --binding-selector option when calling az aks pod-identity add.

To run a sample application using Microsoft Entra pod-managed identity, create a demo.yaml file with the following contents. Replace POD_IDENTITY_NAME, IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID, and IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP with the values from the previous steps. Replace SUBSCRIPTION_ID with your subscription ID.


In the previous steps, you created the POD_IDENTITY_NAME, IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID, and IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP variables. You can use a command such as echo to display the value you set for variables, for example echo $POD_IDENTITY_NAME.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: demo
    aadpodidbinding: $POD_IDENTITY_NAME
  - name: demo
      - --subscriptionid=$SUBSCRIPTION_ID
      - --clientid=$IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID
      - --resourcegroup=$IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP
      - name: MY_POD_NAME
      - name: MY_POD_NAMESPACE
            fieldPath: metadata.namespace
      - name: MY_POD_IP
            fieldPath: status.podIP
  nodeSelector: linux

Notice the pod definition has an aadpodidbinding label with a value that matches the name of the pod-managed identity you ran az aks pod-identity add in the previous step.

Deploy demo.yaml to the same namespace as your pod-managed identity using kubectl apply:

kubectl apply -f demo.yaml --namespace $POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE

Verify the sample application successfully runs using kubectl logs.

kubectl logs demo --follow --namespace $POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE

Verify that the logs show a token is successfully acquired and the GET operation is successful.

successfully doARMOperations vm count 0
successfully acquired a token using the MSI, msiEndpoint(
successfully acquired a token, userAssignedID MSI, msiEndpoint( clientID(xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx)
successfully made GET on instance metadata

Run an application with multiple identities

To enable an application to use multiple identities, set the --binding-selector to the same selector when creating pod identities.

az aks pod-identity add --resource-group myResourceGroup --cluster-name myAKSCluster --namespace ${POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE}  --name ${POD_IDENTITY_NAME_1} --identity-resource-id ${IDENTITY_RESOURCE_ID_1} --binding-selector myMultiIdentitySelector
az aks pod-identity add --resource-group myResourceGroup --cluster-name myAKSCluster --namespace ${POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE}  --name ${POD_IDENTITY_NAME_2} --identity-resource-id ${IDENTITY_RESOURCE_ID_2} --binding-selector myMultiIdentitySelector

Then set the aadpodidbinding field in your pod YAML to the binding selector you specified.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: demo
    aadpodidbinding: myMultiIdentitySelector

Disable pod-managed identity on an existing cluster

To disable pod-managed identity on an existing cluster, remove the pod-managed identities from the cluster. Then disable the feature on the cluster.

az aks pod-identity delete --name ${POD_IDENTITY_NAME} --namespace ${POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE} --resource-group myResourceGroup --cluster-name myAKSCluster
az aks update --resource-group myResourceGroup --name myAKSCluster --disable-pod-identity

Clean up

To remove a Microsoft Entra pod-managed identity from your cluster, remove the sample application and the pod-managed identity from the cluster. Then remove the identity and the role assignment of cluster identity.

kubectl delete pod demo --namespace $POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE
az aks pod-identity delete --name ${POD_IDENTITY_NAME} --namespace ${POD_IDENTITY_NAMESPACE} --resource-group myResourceGroup --cluster-name myAKSCluster
az identity delete --resource-group ${IDENTITY_RESOURCE_GROUP} --name ${IDENTITY_NAME}
az role assignment delete --role "Managed Identity Operator" --assignee "$IDENTITY_CLIENT_ID" --scope "$IDENTITY_RESOURCE_ID"

Next steps

For more information on managed identities, see Managed identities for Azure resources.