Tenants, users, and roles in Azure Lighthouse scenarios

Before onboarding customers for Azure Lighthouse, it's important to understand how Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) tenants, users, and roles work, and how they can be used in Azure Lighthouse scenarios.

A tenant is a dedicated and trusted instance of Azure AD. Typically, each tenant represents a single organization. Azure Lighthouse enables logical projection of resources from one tenant to another tenant. This allows users in the managing tenant (such as one belonging to a service provider) to access delegated resources in a customer's tenant, or lets enterprises with multiple tenants centralize their management operations.

In order to achieve this logical projection, a subscription (or one or more resource groups within a subscription) in the customer tenant must be onboarded to Azure Lighthouse. This onboarding process can be done either through Azure Resource Manager templates or by publishing a public or private offer to Azure Marketplace.

With either onboarding method, you'll need to define authorizations. Each authorization includes a principalId (an Azure AD user, group, or service principal in the managing tenant) combined with a built-in role that defines the specific permissions that will be granted for the delegated resources.


Unless explicitly specified, references to a "user" in the Azure Lighthouse documentation can apply to an Azure AD user, group, or service principal in an authorization.

Best practices for defining users and roles

When creating your authorizations, we recommend the following best practices:

  • In most cases, you'll want to assign permissions to an Azure AD user group or service principal, rather than to a series of individual user accounts. This lets you add or remove access for individual users through your tenant's Azure AD, rather than having to update the delegation every time your individual access requirements change.
  • Follow the principle of least privilege so that users only have the permissions needed to complete their job, helping to reduce the chance of inadvertent errors. For more information, see Recommended security practices.
  • Include an authorization with the Managed Services Registration Assignment Delete Role so that you can remove access to the delegation later if needed. If this role is not assigned, access to delegated resources can only be removed by a user in the customer's tenant.
  • Be sure that any user who needs to view the My customers page in the Azure portal has the Reader role (or another built-in role which includes Reader access).


In order to add permissions for an Azure AD group, the Group type must be set to Security. This option is selected when the group is created. For more information, see Create a basic group and add members using Azure Active Directory.

Role support for Azure Lighthouse

When defining an authorization, each user account must be assigned one of the Azure built-in roles. Custom roles and classic subscription administrator roles are not supported.

All built-in roles are currently supported with Azure Lighthouse, with the following exceptions:

In some cases, a role that had previously been supported with Azure Lighthouse may become unavailable. For example, if the DataActions permission is added to a role that previously didn't have that permission, that role can no longer be used when onboarding new delegations. Users who had already been assigned the role will still be able to work on previously delegated resources, but they won't be able to perform tasks that use the DataActions permission.


When assigning roles, be sure to review the actions specified for each role. In some cases, even though roles with DataActions permission are not supported, the actions included in a role may allow access to data, where data is exposed through access keys and not accessed via the user's identity. For example, the Virtual Machine Contributor role includes the Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts/listKeys/action action, which returns storage account access keys that could be used to retrieve certain customer data.


As soon as a new applicable built-in role is added to Azure, it can be assigned when onboarding a customer using Azure Resource Manager templates. There may be a delay before the newly-added role becomes available in Partner Center when publishing a managed service offer. Similarly, if a role becomes unavailable, you may still see it in Partner Center for a period of time; however, you won't be able to publish new offers using such roles.

Transferring delegated subscriptions between Azure AD tenants

If a subscription is transferred to another Azure AD tenant account, the registration definition and registration assignment resources created through the Azure Lighthouse onboarding process will be preserved. This means that access granted through Azure Lighthouse to managing tenants will remain in effect for that subscription (or for delegated resource groups within that subscription).

The only exception is if the subscription is transferred to an Azure AD tenant to which it had been previously delegated. In this case, the delegation resources for that tenant are removed and the access granted through Azure Lighthouse will no longer apply, since the subscription now belongs directly to that tenant (rather than being delegated to it through Azure Lighthouse). However, if that subscription had also been delegated to other managing tenants, those other managing tenants will retain the same access to the subscription.

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