Managed Identity


Managed Identity is used to create an identity that resources can run under automatically. This is similar to a service principal except that there is no credential to manage and the authorization token is retrieved through a secure internal handshake between the resource and the identity service in Azure.

  • User Assigned Identity (Microsoft.ManagedIdentity/userAssignedIdentities)

Using a managed identity as opposed to e.g. connection strings brings several benefits:

  • There is no client secret or certificate to configure and rotate because this is handled implicitly by Azure infrastructure.
  • The identity is tied to one or more specific resources, so cannot be used by anything else, like a user.
  • Many services allow more granular permissions than e.g. a connection string.
  • You can grant and revoke access completely independently of the application attempting to gain access to the resource.

Once created, the managed identity resource can be referenced by other resources both in order to:

  • Enable a resource to run as that identity
  • Enable a resource to grant permissions to that identity

For example, you may wish to run a Virtual Machine or an Web App under a identity that you create, and then to grant permissions to that identity to allow reading from a storage account. You can define the permissions completely independently of the Virtual Machine or Web App.

graph LR A(identity) B(virtual machine)-. runs as .->A D(web app)-. runs as .->A C(storage account)-. grants permissions .->A A -. request made in this identiy .->C

See here and here for the official documentation on the Microsoft Azure docs website.

Identity Types in Azure

Identities come in two flavours in Azure: System and User assigned.

  • System Identities are available whenever you create a resource, such as a VM. Each resource has its own system identity, and they cannot be shared across resources.
  • User Identities are created by you; they exist idependently of any resources and thus can be shared across them. In Farmer, the userAssignedIdentity builder can be used for this. You also need to “link” a user identity to the resource that you wish to be able to “run as” it.

User Assigned Identities are themselves ARM resources and need to be added to your Farmer arm {} blocks!

graph LR A(user assigned identity) subgraph Web App B(system identity) end C(storage account) C -.grants permissions .-> A C -.grants permissions .-> B

User Assigned Identity Builder

The userAssignedIdentity builder constructs user assigned managed identities which can be created and then assigned to one or more resources.

nameSets the name of the user assigned identity.
add_tagAdds a tag to the user assigned identity resource.
add_tagsAdds multiple tags to the user assigned identity resource.

Helper Methods

Because the User Assigned Identity builder is so simple, we also provide a simple builder function to create identities as an alternative to using the standard builder syntax:

open Farmer.Builders

let uai = createUserAssignedIdentity "mytestidentity"

Example: System Identity

In this example, a web app needs a secret from a key vault. By using the system identity on the web app, application code can be granted access to the key vault with no need to provide it a client secret.

open Farmer
open Farmer.Builders

let wa = webApp {
    name "myApp"
    system_identity // turn on the system identity of the web app

let vault = keyVault {
    name "my-vault"
    add_access_policies [
        // grant access to the web app's system identity to key vault.
        // by default GET and LIST permissions are granted.
        AccessPolicy.create wa.SystemIdentity

let template = arm {
    add_resources [ wa; vault ]

There is no need to add a specific identity resource to Farmer in this case because the System Identity is created along with the web app itself.

Example: User Assigned Identity

In this example, a web app needs access to a Storage Account with a specific role. By assigning an identity to the web app, the application code can be granted access to the storage account; we also provide the Client Id to the application as a public setting in order for the application to correctly impersonate as the identity within code.

By creating a user assigned identity, unlike a system identity, we can also apply this identity onto other resources so that they, too, can “share” the permissions and identity. In this example, we also apply the identity onto a container group.

// Create a user assigned identity
let sharedIdentity =
    userAssignedIdentity {
        name "container-group-identity"

// Apply it onto the web app
let myWeb = webApp {
    name "myApp"
    // Add the identity to the web app
    add_identity sharedIdentity
    // Provide the client id to the app for use in code
    setting "ClientId" sharedIdentity.ClientId

let group =
    containerGroup {
        name "myapp-with-identity"
        add_instances [
            containerInstance {
                name "my-app"
                image ""
        // Also apply it here. All of the containers in this group share this managed identity.
        add_identity sharedIdentity

let data = storageAccount {
    name "dataidentity"
    // Allow the shared identity blob data reader access to storage.
    grant_access sharedIdentity Roles.StorageBlobDataReader

let deployment = arm {
    add_resources [

In this example, notice that we explicitly add the sharedIdentity resource to the arm {} block.