AppAuthentication to Azure.Identity Migration Guidance

When the Microsoft.Azure.Services.AppAuthentication library was first released in fall 2017, it was specifically designed to help mitigate the common and systemic issue of credentials in source code. It introduced a new paradigm for app development that allowed developers to write code once and let AppAuthentication client library determine how to authenticate based on the application environment - whether on a developer workstation using a developer's account or deployed in Azure using a managed service identity. Developers could completely avoid directly handling credentials, both simplifying development and improving security by preventing credentials from being accidentally disclosed in source code. Given its simplicity and security benefits, AppAuthentication was well received by developers. The NuGet received over 160 million downloads, and it was used in other libraries and frameworks for Azure services, such as the Azure Key Vault Configuration Provider in .NET Core and the Microsoft.Azure.ServiceBus SDK.

Released in fall 2019, the Azure.Identity client library is the spiritual successor to the AppAuthentication library. Azure.Identity has a major advantage over AppAuthentication with its broader availability in multiple languages that provide consistent design and similar usage across these languages, whereas AppAuthentication was only available for .NET. In addition to its support of multiple languages, one key design feature of Azure.Identity is its various implementations of the abstract TokenCredential class, of which newer Azure client SDKs accept. These newer Azure SDKs are easily distinguished by package names and namespaces that start with "Azure", i.e. "Azure.Identity", "Azure.Storage.Blobs". To authenticate, the desired type of TokenCredential object is instantiated and simply passed directly to the Azure SDK client class. This design gives using Azure.Identity an additional security benefit over using AppAuthentication and older SDKs that require specifying the access token because access tokens do not need to be directly handled by the application itself. This mitigates the additional risk of access tokens being accidentally disclosed through traces, logs, and other sources.

If you are starting development of a new application, it is strongly recommended to use Azure.Identity and the new Azure client SDKs. If you have an existing application that uses AppAuthentication and want to use Azure.Identity, the preferred path is to update your application to use the new Azure client SDKs that support accepting TokenCredentials. AppAuthentication is now considered deprecated and there will be no further investment in its development. Using the DefaultAzureCredential in Azure.Identity will provide similar functionality to AzureServiceTokenProvider in AppAuthentication, where the authentication provider used will change based on the current environment. If you are using an AppAuthentication connection string for a specific authentication provider using AppAuthentication, please see the below table to see how to use the same authentication provider by creating the appropriate TokenCredential in Azure.Identity.

Auth Provider AppAuthentication
Connection String
(Default) environment-based Default - no connection string used new DefaultAzureCredential()*
Azure CLI RunAs=Developer;
new AzureCliCredential()
Visual Studio RunAs=Developer; DeveloperTool=VisualStudio new VisualStudioCredential()
Windows Integrated Authentication RunAs=CurrentUser No support
System-assigned managed identity RunAs=App new ManagedIdentityCredential()
User-assigned managed identity RunAs=App;AppId=appId new ManagedIdentityCredential(appId)
Service principal client certificate RunAs=App;AppId=appId;
No support
Service principal client certificate RunAs=App;AppId=appId;TenantId=tenantId;
new EnvironmentCredential()**
new ClientCertificateCredential(tenantId, appId, certObjOrFilePath)
Service principal client certificate RunAs=App;AppId=appId;TenantId=tenantId;
new EnvironmentCredential()**
new ClientCertificateCredential(tenantId, appId, certObjOrFilePath)
Service principal client secret RunAs=App;AppId=appId;TenantId=tenantId;
new EnvironmentCredential()**
new ClientSecretCredential(tenantId, appId, secret)


* Authentication providers and order is different between AzureServiceTokenProvider and DefaultAzureCredential
** Need to set environment variables

While Azure.Identity supports most authentication scenarios and providers that AppAuthentication has, there are some scenarios and features that are currently not supported:

  • Windows integrated authentication provider

  • System.Data.SqlClient.SqlAuthenticationProvider implementation (SqlAppAuthenticationProvider)

    • For Microsoft.Data.SqlClient, see Active Directory Default authentication. This authentication mode provides similar functionality where DefaultAzureCredential is used to obtain access token for authentication to SQL instances.
  • Directly use certificates in cert store as client credential (using subject name or thumbprint identifier)

  • Directly use certificates in Key Vault as client credential (using Key Vault certificate secret identifier)

  • Change authentication provider with environment config (i.e. connection strings in AppAuthentication)

    • Limited support in Azure.Identity with DefaultAzureCredential and EnvironmentCredential, see environment variables
  • Determine auth provider and identity used for environment-based authentication (i.e. AzureServiceTokenProvider.PrincipalUsed property)

Below are some examples of migrating from an older Azure client SDK using AppAuthentication to the newer version of the Azure client SDK using Azure.Identity. The code using Azure.Identity is more often than not going to be much more straightforward and simple than the AppAuthentication code

Microsoft.Azure.KeyVault to Azure.Security.KeyVault:

  • Using AppAuthentication library
AzureServiceTokenProvider tokenProvider = new AzureServiceTokenProvider();
var client = new KeyVaultClient(new KeyVaultClient.AuthenticationCallback(tokenProvider.KeyVaultTokenCallback));
var secretBundle = await client.GetSecretAsync("");

  • Using Azure.Identity library
var client = new SecretClient(new Uri(""), new DefaultAzureCredential());
var secret = client.GetSecret("secretName").Value;


Microsoft.Azure.Storage.Queues to Azure.Storage.Queues:

  • Using AppAuthentication library
var tokenProvider = new AzureServiceTokenProvider();
var accessToken = await tokenProvider.GetAccessTokenAsync("");

var tokenCredential = new StorageTokenCredential(accessToken);
var storageCredentials = new StorageCredentials(tokenCredential);

var uri = new StorageUri(new Uri(""));
var client = new CloudQueueClient(uri, storageCredentials);

var queue = client.GetQueueReference("queuename");
queue.AddMessage(new CloudQueueMessage("Microsoft.Azure.Storage.Queues"));
  • Using Azure.Identity library
QueueClient queueClient = new QueueClient(new Uri(""), new DefaultAzureCredential());

Access token retrieval

  • Using AppAuthentication library
var tokenProvider = new AzureServiceTokenProvider();
var accessToken = await tokenProvider.GetAccessTokenAsync(ResourceId);
  • Using Azure.Identity library
var tokenCredential = new DefaultAzureCredential();
var accessToken = await tokenCredential.GetTokenAsync(
    new TokenRequestContext(scopes: new string[] { ResourceId + "/.default" }) { }


More information on the .default scope can be found here.