HowTo: Authenticate to Azure using a Service Principal

Official Content

The purpose of this article is to explain the necessary steps to authenticate to Azure using a Service Principal. The following extract has been taken from Microsoft doc

"An Azure service principal is an identity created for use with applications, hosted services, and automated tools to access Azure resources. This access is restricted by the roles assigned to the service principal, giving you control over which resources can be accessed and at which level. For security reasons, it's always recommended to use service principals with automated tools rather than allowing them to log in with a user identity."

In sum, for a service (it can be any Azure service, in particular, Azure Functions) to connect to resources in an Azure subscription, it needs an associated service principal within that subscription's tenant. Each service is represented by an Azure Active Directory (AAD) application. This application has an associated service principal within each tenant to which it needs access.

To create a Service Principal (Password-based authentication) –using the Az CLI (as stated in the document mentioned above)– do the following:

az ad sp create-for-rbac --name ServicePrincipalName


>az ad sp create-for-rbac --name GXFuncSP2
Changing "GXFuncSP2" to a valid URI of "http://GXFuncSP2", which is the required format used for service principal names
Creating a role assignment under the scope of "/subscriptions/.................."
  Retrying role assignment creation: 1/36
  "appId": "8d3debc6-4346-42c8-xxxxxxxxxxxxx",
  "displayName": "GXFuncSP2",
  "name": "http://GXFuncSP2",
  "password": "xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx",
  "tenant": "5ec7bbf9-1872-46c9-b201-a1e181996b35"

The default role for a service principal is Contributor. This role has full permissions to read and write to an Azure account. 

The Application defined can be seen in the Azure Portal, through the Azure Active Directory > App registrations option:


By selecting the corresponding Application, you can get the Application ID and the Tenant ID (required to configure the "Service Principal Application ID" and "Service Principal Tenant ID" properties when deploying the application to Azure functions).



If you have the error "No subscriptions found for <Service_Principal_AppId>" do the following (ref)

After creating a service principal in the Azure Active Directory, you need to give this new user some roles within a subscription:

Go to your subscription > Access Control (IAM) > Add a role assignment (for instance make your service principal contributor)

See Also

For a clear explanation of these concepts, read this blog.