Creating quick service connections to Azure from Azure DevOps can be easy. Creating secured, easy-to-manage, connections is harder.

The Easy Connections

If you’re a Project Administrator or Endpoint Administrator on a Team project, you can create a new Service Connection. For Azure Service Connections, you also need Owner rights to the respective subscription and the ability on Azure Active Directory to create new app registrations.

From a Team Project, you can go to Settings and Service Connections. From there, you can create a new service connection.

For more information, here’s the Microsoft docs.

Guidelines

Following the principle of least priviledge, the smaller the scope for a service principal the better. In other words, if you can scope it down to a resource group even better.

The Problem

Today, when creating multiple Azure DevOps service principals with limited access, they will all show up with unfriendly names in Azure Active Directory. For a Team Project with many Azure service connections, you might end up with several service principals with the same name - making it very difficult to segregate access for each one.

For example

I created two service connections with Azure DevOps. I scoped these to a facundo-rg resource group.

From the IAM blade in facundo-rg, there’s the service principals created for this team project.

Although there’s two service connections, they have the same names! The name is just a combination of the Team Project and the Subscription ID.

It’s impossible to see which service principal belongs to which Azure DevOps service connections.

The Solution - Do it yourself

Note: Inspiration taken from the Azure DevOps labs

Bash

subscriptionId=[Some subscription Id]
resourceGroupName1=facundo-rg
resourceGroupName2=facundo2-rg
az ad sp create-for-rbac -n "test-my-app3" --role contributor \
    --scopes /subscriptions/$subscriptionId/resourceGroups/$resourceGroupName1 \
             /subscriptions/$subscriptionId/resourceGroups/$resourceGroupName2

Result will look like

{
  "appId": "[some app id]",
  "displayName": "test-my-app3",
  "name": "http://test-my-app3",
  "password": "[some password]",
  "tenant": "[some tenant]"
}

Then from Azure DevOps, use the link to manually complete the service connection.

  • Service Principal Client ID - appId
  • Service Principal Key - password
  • Tenant - tenant
  • Subscription ID - your subscription id
  • Subscription Name - the name of your subscription

Extra Credit

Use the Azure DevOps extension for the Azure CLI to also automate the creation of the service connection. See more here.

Note: Install the Azure DevOps CLI extension first.

teamProject="Service Principals Demo"
subscriptionId=$(az account show | jq -r '.id')
subscriptionName=$(az account show | jq -r '.name')
resourceGroupName1=facundo-rg
resourceGroupName2=facundo2-rg
name="test-my-app3"

response=$(az ad sp create-for-rbac -n $name --role contributor \
    --scopes /subscriptions/$subscriptionId/resourceGroups/$resourceGroupName1 \
             /subscriptions/$subscriptionId/resourceGroups/$resourceGroupName2)

appId=$(echo $response | jq -r '.appId')
tenantId=$(echo $response | jq -r '.tenant')
export AZURE_DEVOPS_EXT_AZURE_RM_SERVICE_PRINCIPAL_KEY=$(echo $response | jq -r '.password')

az devops service-endpoint azurerm create --azure-rm-service-principal-id "$appId" \
                                          --azure-rm-subscription-id "$subscriptionId" \
                                          --azure-rm-subscription-name "$subscriptionName" \
                                          --azure-rm-tenant-id "$tenantId" \
                                          --name "$name" \
                                          --project "$teamProject"