Create a shared private link for a SQL managed instance from Azure AI Search

This article explains how to configure an indexer in Azure AI Search for a private connection to a SQL managed instance that runs within a virtual network.

On a private connection to a managed instance, the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the instance must include the DNS Zone. Currently, only the Azure AI Search Management REST API provides a resourceRegion parameter for accepting the DNS zone specification.

Although you can call the Management REST API directly, it's easier to use the Azure CLI az rest module to send Management REST API calls from a command line. This article uses the Azure CLI with REST to set up the private link.


This article refers to Azure portal for obtaining properties and confirming steps. However, when creating the shared private link for SQL Managed Instance, make sure you're using the REST API. Although the Networking tab lists Microsoft.Sql/managedInstances as an option, the portal doesn't currently support the extended URL format used by SQL Managed Instance.


  • Azure CLI

  • Azure AI Search, Basic or higher. If you're using AI enrichment and skillsets, use Standard 2 (S2) or higher. See Service limits for details.

  • Azure SQL Managed Instance, configured to run in a virtual network.

  • You should have a minimum of Contributor permissions on both Azure AI Search and SQL Managed Instance.

  • Azure SQL Managed Instance connection string. Managed identity is not currently supported with shared private link. Your connection string must include a user name and password.


Azure Private Link is used internally, at no charge, to set up the shared private link.

1 - Retrieve connection information

Retrieve the FQDN of the managed instance, including the DNS zone. The DNS zone is part of the domain name of the SQL Managed Instance. For example, if the FQDN of the SQL Managed Instance is, the DNS zone is 00000000000.

  1. In Azure portal, find the SQL managed instance object.

  2. On the Overview tab, locate the Host property. Copy the DNS zone portion of the FQDN for the next step.

  3. On the Connection strings tab, copy the ADO.NET connection string for a later step. It's needed for the data source connection when testing the private connection.

For more information about connection properties, see Create an Azure SQL Managed Instance.

2 - Create the body of the request

  1. Using a text editor, create the JSON for the shared private link.

        "name": "{{shared-private-link-name}}",
        "properties": {
            "privateLinkResourceId": "/subscriptions/{{target-resource-subscription-ID}}/resourceGroups/{{target-resource-rg}}/providers/Microsoft.Sql/managedInstances/{{target-resource-name}}",
            "resourceRegion": "a1b22c333d44",
            "groupId": "managedInstance",
            "requestMessage": "please approve",
  2. Provide a meaningful name for the shared private link. The shared private link appears alongside other private endpoints. A name like "shared-private-link-for-search" can remind you how it's used.

  3. Paste in the DNS zone name in "resourceRegion" that you retrieved in an earlier step.

  4. Edit the "privateLinkResourceId" to reflect the private endpoint of your managed instance. Provide the subscription ID, resource group name, and object name of the managed instance.

  5. Save the file locally as create-pe.json (or use another name, remembering to update the Azure CLI syntax in the next step).

  6. In the Azure CLI, type dir to note the current location of the file.

  1. From the command line, sign into Azure using az login.

  2. If you have multiple subscriptions, make sure you're using the one you intend to use: az account show.

    To set the subscription, use az account set --subscription {{subscription ID}}

  3. Call the az rest command to use the Management REST API of Azure AI Search.

    Because shared private link support for SQL managed instances is still in preview, you need a preview version of the REST API. Use 2021-04-01-preview for this step`.

    az rest --method put --uri{{search-service-subscription-ID}}/resourceGroups/{{search service-resource-group}}/providers/Microsoft.Search/searchServices/{{search-service-name}}/sharedPrivateLinkResources/{{shared-private-link-name}}?api-version=2021-04-01-preview --body @create-pe.json

    Provide the subscription ID, resource group name, and service name of your Azure AI Search resource.

    Provide the same shared private link name that you specified in the JSON body.

    Provide a path to the create-pe.json file if you've navigated away from the file location. You can type dir at the command line to confirm the file is in the current directory.

  4. Press Enter to run the command.

When you complete these steps, you should have a shared private link that's provisioned in a pending state. It takes several minutes to create the link. Once it's created, the resource owner needs to approve the request before it's operational.

4 - Approve the private endpoint connection

On the SQL Managed Instance side, the resource owner must approve the private connection request you created.

  1. In the Azure portal, open the Private endpoint connections tab of the managed instance.

  2. Find the section that lists the private endpoint connections.

  3. Select the connection, and then select Approve. It can take a few minutes for the status to be updated in the portal.

After the private endpoint is approved, Azure AI Search creates the necessary DNS zone mappings in the DNS zone that's created for it.

On the Azure AI Search side, you can confirm request approval by revisiting the Shared Private Access tab of the search service Networking page. Connection state should be approved.

Screenshot of the Azure portal, showing an "Approved" shared private link resource.

6 - Configure the indexer to run in the private environment

You can now configure an indexer and its data source to use an outbound private connection to your managed instance.

You could use the Import data wizard for this step, but the indexer that's generated won't be valid for this scenario. You'll need to modify the indexer JSON property as described in this step to make it compliant for this scenario. You'll then need to reset and rerun the indexer to fully test the pipeline using the updated indexer.

This article assumes Postman or equivalent tool, and uses the REST APIs to make it easier to see all of the properties. Recall that REST API calls for indexers and data sources use the Search REST APIs, not the Management REST APIs used to create the shared private link. The syntax and API versions are different between the two REST APIs.

  1. Create the data source definition as you would normally for Azure SQL. The format of the connection string is slightly different for a managed instance, but other properties are the same as if you were configuring a data source connection to Azure SQL database.

    Provide the connection string that you copied earlier.

     Content-Type: application/json
     api-key: admin-key
         "name" : "my-sql-datasource",
         "description" : "A database for testing Azure AI Search indexes.",
         "type" : "azuresql",
         "credentials" : { 
             "connectionString" : ",1433; Persist Security Info=false; User ID=<your user name>; Password=<your password>;MultipleActiveResultsSets=False; Encrypt=True;Connection Timeout=30;" 
         "container" : { 
             "name" : "Name of table or view to index",
             "query" : null (not supported in the Azure SQL indexer)
         "dataChangeDetectionPolicy": null,
         "dataDeletionDetectionPolicy": null,
         "encryptionKey": null,
         "identity": null
  2. Create the indexer definition, setting the indexer execution environment to "private".

    Indexer execution occurs in either a private environment that's specific to the search service, or a multi-tenant environment that's used internally to offload expensive skillset processing for multiple customers. When connecting over a private endpoint, indexer execution must be private.

      Content-Type: application/json
      api-key: admin-key
         "name": "indexer",
         "dataSourceName": "my-sql-datasource",
         "targetIndexName": "my-search-index",
         "parameters": {
             "configuration": {
                 "executionEnvironment": "private"
         "fieldMappings": []
  3. Run the indexer. If the indexer execution succeeds and the search index is populated, the shared private link is working.

You can monitor the status of the indexer in Azure portal or by using the Indexer Status API.

You can use Search explorer in Azure portal to check the contents of the index.

If you ran the indexer in the previous step and successfully indexed content from your managed instance, then the test was successful. However, if the indexer fails or there's no content in the index, you can modify your objects and repeat testing by choosing any client that can invoke an outbound request from an indexer.

An easy choice is running an indexer in Azure portal, but you can also try Postman and REST APIs for more precision. Assuming that your search service isn't also configured for a private connection, the REST client connection to Search can be over the public internet.

Here are some reminders for testing:

  • If you use Postman or another web testing tool, use the Management REST API and the 2021-04-01-Preview API version to create the shared private link. Use the Search REST API and a stable API version to create and invoke indexers and data sources.

  • You can use the Import data wizard to create an indexer, data source, and index. However, the generated indexer won't have the correct execution environment setting.

  • You can edit data source and indexer JSON in Azure portal to change properties, including the execution environment and the connection string.

  • You can reset and rerun the indexer in Azure portal. Reset is important for this scenario because it forces a full reprocessing of all documents.

  • You can use Search explorer to check the contents of the index.

See also