Connect privately to an Azure container registry using Azure Private Link

Limit access to a registry by assigning virtual network private IP addresses to the registry endpoints and using Azure Private Link. Network traffic between the clients on the virtual network and the registry's private endpoints traverses the virtual network and a private link on the Microsoft backbone network, eliminating exposure from the public internet. Private Link also enables private registry access from on-premises through Azure ExpressRoute private peering or a VPN gateway.

You can configure DNS settings for the registry's private endpoints, so that the settings resolve to the registry's allocated private IP address. With DNS configuration, clients and services in the network can continue to access the registry at the registry's fully qualified domain name, such as myregistry.azurecr.io.

This article shows how to configure a private endpoint for your registry using the Azure portal (recommended) or the Azure CLI. This feature is available in the Premium container registry service tier. For information about registry service tiers and limits, see Azure Container Registry tiers.

Important

Some functionality may be unavailable or require more configuration in a container registry that restricts access to private endpoints, selected subnets, or IP addresses.

  • When public network access to a registry is disabled, registry access by certain trusted services including Azure Security Center requires enabling a network setting to bypass the network rules.
  • Once the public network access is disabled, Instances of certain Azure services including Azure DevOps Services are currently unable to access the container registry.
  • Private endpoints are not currently supported with both self-hosted agents and managed agents.
  • If the registry has an approved private endpoint and public network access is disabled, repositories and tags can't be listed outside the virtual network using the Azure portal, Azure CLI, or other tools.

Note

Starting from October 2021, new container registries allow a maximum of 200 private endpoints. Registries created earlier allow a maximum of 10 private endpoints. Use the az acr show-usage command to see the limit for your registry. Please open a support ticket if the maximum limit of private endpoints increases to 200.

Prerequisites

  • A virtual network and subnet in which to set up the private endpoint. If needed, create a new virtual network and subnet.
  • For testing, it's recommended to set up a VM in the virtual network. For steps to create a test virtual machine to access your registry, see Create a Docker-enabled virtual machine.
  • To use the Azure CLI steps in this article, Azure CLI version 2.6.0 or later is recommended. If you need to install or upgrade, see Install Azure CLI. Or run in Azure Cloud Shell.
  • If you don't already have a container registry, create one (Premium tier required) and import a sample public image such as mcr.microsoft.com/hello-world from Microsoft Container Registry. For example, use the Azure portal or the Azure CLI to create a registry.

Register container registry resource provider

To configure registry access using a private link in a different Azure subscription or tenant, you need to register the resource provider for Azure Container Registry in that subscription. Use the Azure portal, Azure CLI, or other tools.

Example:

az account set --subscription <Name or ID of subscription of private link>

az provider register --namespace Microsoft.ContainerRegistry

Set up a private endpoint when you create a registry, or add a private endpoint to an existing registry.

Create a private endpoint - new registry

  1. When creating a registry in the portal, on the Basics tab, in SKU, select Premium.

  2. Select the Networking tab.

  3. In Network connectivity, select Private endpoint > + Add.

  4. Enter or select the following information:

    Setting Value
    Subscription Select your subscription.
    Resource group Enter the name of an existing group or create a new one.
    Name Enter a unique name.
    Registry subresource Select registry
    Networking
    Virtual network Select the virtual network for the private endpoint. Example: myDockerVMVNET.
    Subnet Select the subnet for the private endpoint. Example: myDockerVMSubnet.
    Private DNS integration
    Integrate with private DNS zone Select Yes.
    Private DNS Zone Select (New) privatelink.azurecr.io
  5. Configure the remaining registry settings, and then select Review + create.

Create registry with private endpoint

Your private link is now configured and ready for use.

Create a private endpoint - existing registry

  1. In the portal, navigate to your container registry.

  2. Under Settings, select Networking.

  3. On the Private endpoints tab, select + Private endpoint. Add private endpoint to registry

  4. In the Basics tab, enter or select the following information:

    Setting Value
    Project details
    Subscription Select your subscription.
    Resource group Enter the name of an existing group or create a new one.
    Instance details
    Name Enter a name.
    Region Select a region.
  5. Select Next: Resource.

  6. Enter or select the following information:

    Setting Value
    Connection method For this example, select Connect to an Azure resource in my directory.
    Subscription Select your subscription.
    Resource type Select Microsoft.ContainerRegistry/registries.
    Resource Select the name of your registry
    Target subresource Select registry
  7. Select Next: Configuration.

  8. Enter or select the information:

    Setting Value
    Networking
    Virtual network Select the virtual network for the private endpoint
    Subnet Select the subnet for the private endpoint
    Private DNS Integration
    Integrate with private DNS zone Select Yes.
    Private DNS Zone Select (New) privatelink.azurecr.io
  9. Select Review + create. You're taken to the Review + create page where Azure validates your configuration.

  10. When you see the Validation passed message, select Create.

Confirm endpoint configuration

After the private endpoint is created, DNS settings in the private zone appear with the Private endpoints settings in the portal:

  1. In the portal, navigate to your container registry and select Settings > Networking.
  2. On the Private endpoints tab, select the private endpoint you created.
  3. Select DNS configuration.
  4. Review the link settings and custom DNS settings.

Endpoint DNS settings in portal

Set up private endpoint - CLI

The Azure CLI examples in this article use the following environment variables. You'll need the names of an existing container registry, virtual network, and subnet to set up a private endpoint. Substitute values appropriate for your environment. All examples are formatted for the Bash shell:

REGISTRY_NAME=<container-registry-name>
REGISTRY_LOCATION=<container-registry-location> # Azure region such as westeurope where registry created
RESOURCE_GROUP=<resource-group-name> # Resource group for your existing virtual network and subnet
NETWORK_NAME=<virtual-network-name>
SUBNET_NAME=<subnet-name>

Disable network policies in subnet

Disable network policies such as network security groups in the subnet for the private endpoint. Update your subnet configuration with az network vnet subnet update:

az network vnet subnet update \
 --name $SUBNET_NAME \
 --vnet-name $NETWORK_NAME \
 --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP \
 --disable-private-endpoint-network-policies

Configure the private DNS zone

Create a private Azure DNS zone for the private Azure container registry domain. In later steps, you create DNS records for your registry domain in this DNS zone. For more information, see DNS configuration options, later in this article.

To use a private zone to override the default DNS resolution for your Azure container registry, the zone must be named privatelink.azurecr.io. Run the following az network private-dns zone create command to create the private zone:

az network private-dns zone create \
  --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP \
  --name "privatelink.azurecr.io"

Run az network private-dns link vnet create to associate your private zone with the virtual network. This example creates a link called myDNSLink.

az network private-dns link vnet create \
  --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP \
  --zone-name "privatelink.azurecr.io" \
  --name MyDNSLink \
  --virtual-network $NETWORK_NAME \
  --registration-enabled false

Create a private registry endpoint

In this section, create the registry's private endpoint in the virtual network. First, get the resource ID of your registry:

REGISTRY_ID=$(az acr show --name $REGISTRY_NAME \
  --query 'id' --output tsv)

Run the az network private-endpoint create command to create the registry's private endpoint.

The following example creates the endpoint myPrivateEndpoint and service connection myConnection. To specify a container registry resource for the endpoint, pass --group-ids registry:

az network private-endpoint create \
    --name myPrivateEndpoint \
    --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP \
    --vnet-name $NETWORK_NAME \
    --subnet $SUBNET_NAME \
    --private-connection-resource-id $REGISTRY_ID \
    --group-ids registry \
    --connection-name myConnection

Get endpoint IP configuration

To configure DNS records, get the IP configuration of the private endpoint. Associated with the private endpoint's network interface in this example are two private IP addresses for the container registry: one for the registry itself, and one for the registry's data endpoint. If your registry is geo-replicated, an additional IP address is associated with each replica.

First, run az network private-endpoint show to query the private endpoint for the network interface ID:

NETWORK_INTERFACE_ID=$(az network private-endpoint show \
  --name myPrivateEndpoint \
  --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP \
  --query 'networkInterfaces[0].id' \
  --output tsv)

The following az network nic show commands get the private IP addresses and FQDNs for the container registry and the registry's data endpoint:

REGISTRY_PRIVATE_IP=$(az network nic show \
  --ids $NETWORK_INTERFACE_ID \
  --query "ipConfigurations[?privateLinkConnectionProperties.requiredMemberName=='registry'].privateIpAddress" \
  --output tsv)

DATA_ENDPOINT_PRIVATE_IP=$(az network nic show \
  --ids $NETWORK_INTERFACE_ID \
  --query "ipConfigurations[?privateLinkConnectionProperties.requiredMemberName=='registry_data_$REGISTRY_LOCATION'].privateIpAddress" \
  --output tsv)

# An FQDN is associated with each IP address in the IP configurations

REGISTRY_FQDN=$(az network nic show \
  --ids $NETWORK_INTERFACE_ID \
  --query "ipConfigurations[?privateLinkConnectionProperties.requiredMemberName=='registry'].privateLinkConnectionProperties.fqdns" \
  --output tsv)

DATA_ENDPOINT_FQDN=$(az network nic show \
  --ids $NETWORK_INTERFACE_ID \
  --query "ipConfigurations[?privateLinkConnectionProperties.requiredMemberName=='registry_data_$REGISTRY_LOCATION'].privateLinkConnectionProperties.fqdns" \
  --output tsv)

Additional endpoints for geo-replicas

If your registry is geo-replicated, query for the additional data endpoint for each registry replica. For example, in the eastus region:

REPLICA_LOCATION=eastus
GEO_REPLICA_DATA_ENDPOINT_PRIVATE_IP=$(az network nic show \
  --ids $NETWORK_INTERFACE_ID \
  --query "ipConfigurations[?privateLinkConnectionProperties.requiredMemberName=='registry_data_$REPLICA_LOCATION'].privateIpAddress" \
  --output tsv) 

GEO_REPLICA_DATA_ENDPOINT_FQDN=$(az network nic show \
  --ids $NETWORK_INTERFACE_ID \
  --query "ipConfigurations[?privateLinkConnectionProperties.requiredMemberName=='registry_data_$REPLICA_LOCATION'].privateLinkConnectionProperties.fqdns" \
  --output tsv)

Create DNS records in the private zone

The following commands create DNS records in the private zone for the registry endpoint and its data endpoint. For example, if you have a registry named myregistry in the westeurope region, the endpoint names are myregistry.azurecr.io and myregistry.westeurope.data.azurecr.io.

First run az network private-dns record-set a create to create empty A-record sets for the registry endpoint and data endpoint:

az network private-dns record-set a create \
  --name $REGISTRY_NAME \
  --zone-name privatelink.azurecr.io \
  --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP

# Specify registry region in data endpoint name
az network private-dns record-set a create \
  --name ${REGISTRY_NAME}.${REGISTRY_LOCATION}.data \
  --zone-name privatelink.azurecr.io \
  --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP

Run the az network private-dns record-set a add-record command to create the A-records for the registry endpoint and data endpoint:

az network private-dns record-set a add-record \
  --record-set-name $REGISTRY_NAME \
  --zone-name privatelink.azurecr.io \
  --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP \
  --ipv4-address $REGISTRY_PRIVATE_IP

# Specify registry region in data endpoint name
az network private-dns record-set a add-record \
  --record-set-name ${REGISTRY_NAME}.${REGISTRY_LOCATION}.data \
  --zone-name privatelink.azurecr.io \
  --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP \
  --ipv4-address $DATA_ENDPOINT_PRIVATE_IP

Additional records for geo-replicas

If your registry is geo-replicated, create additional DNS settings for each replica. Continuing the example in the eastus region:

az network private-dns record-set a create \
  --name ${REGISTRY_NAME}.${REPLICA_LOCATION}.data \
  --zone-name privatelink.azurecr.io \
  --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP

az network private-dns record-set a add-record \
  --record-set-name ${REGISTRY_NAME}.${REPLICA_LOCATION}.data \
  --zone-name privatelink.azurecr.io \
  --resource-group $RESOURCE_GROUP \
  --ipv4-address $GEO_REPLICA_DATA_ENDPOINT_PRIVATE_IP

The private link is now configured and ready for use.

Disable public access

For many scenarios, disable registry access from public networks. This configuration prevents clients outside the virtual network from reaching the registry endpoints.

Disable public access - portal

  1. In the portal, navigate to your container registry and select Settings > Networking.
  2. On the Public access tab, in Allow public network access, select Disabled. Then select Save.

Disable public access - CLI

Note

If the public access is disabled, the az acr build commands will no longer work.

To disable public access using the Azure CLI, run az acr update and set --public-network-enabled to false.

az acr update --name $REGISTRY_NAME --public-network-enabled false

Execute the az acr build with private endpoint and private registry

Consider the following options to execute the az acr build successfully.

Note

Once you disable public network access here, then az acr build commands will no longer work.

  1. Assign a dedicated agent pool.
  2. If agent pool is not available in the region, add the regional Azure Container Registry Service Tag IPv4 to the firewall access rules.
  3. Create an ACR task with a managed identity, and enable trusted services to access network restricted ACR.

Disable access to a container registry using a service endpoint

Important

The container registry does not support enabling both private link and service endpoint features configured from a virtual network.

Once the registry has public access disabled and private link configured, you can disable the service endpoint access to a container registry from a virtual network by removing virtual network rules.

You should validate that the resources within the subnet of the private endpoint connect to your registry over a private IP address, and have the correct private DNS zone integration.

To validate the private link connection, connect to the virtual machine you set up in the virtual network.

Run a utility such as nslookup or dig to look up the IP address of your registry over the private link. For example:

dig $REGISTRY_NAME.azurecr.io

Example output shows the registry's IP address in the address space of the subnet:

[...]
; <<>> DiG 9.11.3-1ubuntu1.13-Ubuntu <<>> myregistry.azurecr.io
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 52155
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 2, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 1

;; OPT PSEUDOSECTION:
; EDNS: version: 0, flags:; udp: 65494
;; QUESTION SECTION:
;myregistry.azurecr.io.         IN      A

;; ANSWER SECTION:
myregistry.azurecr.io.  1783    IN      CNAME   myregistry.privatelink.azurecr.io.
myregistry.privatelink.azurecr.io. 10 IN A      10.0.0.7

[...]

Compare this result with the public IP address in dig output for the same registry over a public endpoint:

[...]
;; ANSWER SECTION:
myregistry.azurecr.io.	2881	IN	CNAME	myregistry.privatelink.azurecr.io.
myregistry.privatelink.azurecr.io. 2881	IN CNAME xxxx.xx.azcr.io.
xxxx.xx.azcr.io.	300	IN	CNAME	xxxx-xxx-reg.trafficmanager.net.
xxxx-xxx-reg.trafficmanager.net. 300 IN	CNAME	xxxx.westeurope.cloudapp.azure.com.
xxxx.westeurope.cloudapp.azure.com. 10	IN A 20.45.122.144

[...]

Also verify that you can perform registry operations from the virtual machine in the network. Make an SSH connection to your virtual machine, and run az acr login to login to your registry. Depending on your VM configuration, you might need to prefix the following commands with sudo.

az acr login --name $REGISTRY_NAME

Perform registry operations such as docker pull to pull a sample image from the registry. Replace hello-world:v1 with an image and tag appropriate for your registry, prefixed with the registry login server name (all lowercase):

docker pull myregistry.azurecr.io/hello-world:v1

Docker successfully pulls the image to the VM.

Manage private endpoint connections

Manage a registry's private endpoint connections using the Azure portal, or by using commands in the az acr private-endpoint-connection command group. Operations include approve, delete, list, reject, or show details of a registry's private endpoint connections.

For example, to list the private endpoint connections of a registry, run the az acr private-endpoint-connection list command. For example:

az acr private-endpoint-connection list \
  --registry-name $REGISTRY_NAME 

When you set up a private endpoint connection using the steps in this article, the registry automatically accepts connections from clients and services that have Azure RBAC permissions on the registry. You can set up the endpoint to require manual approval of connections. For information about how to approve and reject private endpoint connections, see Manage a Private Endpoint Connection.

Important

Currently, if you delete a private endpoint from a registry, you might also need to delete the virtual network's link to the private zone. If the link isn't deleted, you may see an error similar to unresolvable host.

DNS configuration options

The private endpoint in this example integrates with a private DNS zone associated with a basic virtual network. This setup uses the Azure-provided DNS service directly to resolve the registry's public FQDN to its private IP addresses in the virtual network.

Private link supports additional DNS configuration scenarios that use the private zone, including with custom DNS solutions. For example, you might have a custom DNS solution deployed in the virtual network, or on-premises in a network you connect to the virtual network using a VPN gateway or Azure ExpressRoute.

To resolve the registry's public FQDN to the private IP address in these scenarios, you need to configure a server-level forwarder to the Azure DNS service (168.63.129.16). Exact configuration options and steps depend on your existing networks and DNS. For examples, see Azure Private Endpoint DNS configuration.

Important

If for high availability you created private endpoints in several regions, we recommend that you use a separate resource group in each region and place the virtual network and the associated private DNS zone in it. This configuration also prevents unpredictable DNS resolution caused by sharing the same private DNS zone.

Manually configure DNS records

For some scenarios, you may need to manually configure DNS records in a private zone instead of using the Azure-provided private zone. Be sure to create records for each of the following endpoints: the registry endpoint, the registry's data endpoint, and the data endpoint for any additional regional replica. If all records aren't configured, the registry may be unreachable.

Important

If you later add a new replica, you need to manually add a new DNS record for the data endpoint in that region. For example, if you create a replica of myregistry in the northeurope location, add a record for myregistry.northeurope.data.azurecr.io.

The FQDNs and private IP addresses you need to create DNS records are associated with the private endpoint's network interface. You can obtain this information using the Azure portal or Azure CLI.

After creating DNS records, make sure that the registry FQDNs resolve properly to their respective private IP addresses.

Clean up resources

To clean up your resources in the portal, navigate to your resource group. Once the resource group is loaded, click on Delete resource group to remove the resource group and the resources stored there.

If you created all the Azure resources in the same resource group and no longer need them, you can optionally delete the resources by using a single az group delete command:

az group delete --name $RESOURCE_GROUP

Next steps