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Output connection strings and keys from Azure Bicep

ยท 6 min read

If we're provisioning resources in Azure with Bicep, we may have a need to acquire the connection strings and keys of our newly deployed infrastructure. For example, the connection strings of an event hub or the access keys of a storage account. Perhaps we'd like to use them to run an end-to-end test, perhaps we'd like to store these secrets somewhere for later consumption. This post shows how to do that using Bicep and the listKeys helper. Optionally it shows how we could consume this in Azure Pipelines.

An alternative approach would be permissioning our pipeline to access the resources directly. You can read about that approach here.

image which contains the blog title

Event Hub connection string

First of all, let's provision an Azure Event Hub. This involves deploying an event hub namespace, an event hub in that namespace and an authorization rule. The following Bicep will do this for us:

// Create an event hub namespace

var eventHubNamespaceName = 'evhns-demo'

resource eventHubNamespace 'Microsoft.EventHub/[email protected]' = {
name: eventHubNamespaceName
location: resourceGroup().location
sku: {
name: 'Standard'
tier: 'Standard'
capacity: 1
}
properties: {
zoneRedundant: true
}
}

// Create an event hub inside the namespace

var eventHubName = 'evh-demo'

resource eventHubNamespaceName_eventHubName 'Microsoft.EventHub/namespaces/[email protected]' = {
parent: eventHubNamespace
name: eventHubName
properties: {
messageRetentionInDays: 7
partitionCount: 1
}
}

// Grant Listen and Send on our event hub

resource eventHubNamespaceName_eventHubName_ListenSend 'Microsoft.EventHub/namespaces/eventhubs/[email protected]' = {
parent: eventHubNamespaceName_eventHubName
name: 'ListenSend'
properties: {
rights: [
'Listen'
'Send'
]
}
dependsOn: [
eventHubNamespace
]
}

When this is deployed to Azure, it will result in creating something like this:

screenshot of event hub connection strings in the Azure Portal

As we can see, there are connection strings available which can be used to access the event hub. How do we get a connection string that we can play with? It's easily achieved by appending the following to our Bicep:

// Determine our connection string

var eventHubNamespaceConnectionString = listKeys(eventHubNamespaceName_eventHubName_ListenSend.id, eventHubNamespaceName_eventHubName_ListenSend.apiVersion).primaryConnectionString

// Output our variables

output eventHubNamespaceConnectionString string = eventHubNamespaceConnectionString
output eventHubName string = eventHubName

What we're doing here is using the listKeys helper on our authorization rule and retrieving the handy primaryConnectionString, which is then exposed as an output variable.

Storage Account connection string

We'd like to obtain a connection string for a storage account also. Let's put together a Bicep file that creates a storage account and a container therein. (Incidentally, it's fairly common to have a storage account provisioned alongside an event hub to facilitate reading from an event hub.)

// Create a storage account

var storageAccountName = 'stdemo'

resource eventHubNamespaceName_storageAccount 'Microsoft.Storage/[email protected]' = {
name: storageAccountName
location: resourceGroup().location
sku: {
name: 'Standard_LRS'
tier: 'Standard'
}
kind: 'StorageV2'
properties: {
networkAcls: {
bypass: 'AzureServices'
defaultAction: 'Allow'
}
accessTier: 'Hot'
allowBlobPublicAccess: false
minimumTlsVersion: 'TLS1_2'
allowSharedKeyAccess: true
}
}

// create a container inside that storage account

var blobContainerName = 'test-container'

resource storageAccountName_default_containerName 'Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts/blobServices/[email protected]' = {
name: '${storageAccountName}/default/${blobContainerName}'
dependsOn: [
eventHubNamespaceName_storageAccount
]
}

When this is deployed to Azure, it will result in creating something like this:

screenshot of storage account access keys in the Azure Portal

Again we can see, there are connection strings available in the Azure Portal, which can be used to access the storage account. However, things aren't quite as simple as previously; in that there doesn't seem to be a way to directly acquire a connection string. What we can do, is acquire a key; and construct ourselves a connection string with that. Here's how:

// Determine our connection string

var blobStorageConnectionString = 'DefaultEndpointsProtocol=https;AccountName=${eventHubNamespaceName_storageAccount.name};EndpointSuffix=${environment().suffixes.storage};AccountKey=${listKeys(eventHubNamespaceName_storageAccount.id, eventHubNamespaceName_storageAccount.apiVersion).keys[0].value}'

// Output our variable

output blobStorageConnectionString string = blobStorageConnectionString
output blobContainerName string = blobContainerName

If you just wanted to know how to acquire connection strings from Bicep then you can stop now; we're done! But if you're curious on how the Bicep might connect to the shoulder Azure Pipelines... Read on.

From Bicep to Azure Pipelines

If we put together our snippets above into a single Bicep file it would look like this:

// Create an event hub namespace

var eventHubNamespaceName = 'evhns-demo'

resource eventHubNamespace 'Microsoft.EventHub/[email protected]' = {
name: eventHubNamespaceName
location: resourceGroup().location
sku: {
name: 'Standard'
tier: 'Standard'
capacity: 1
}
properties: {
zoneRedundant: true
}
}

// Create an event hub inside the namespace

var eventHubName = 'evh-demo'

resource eventHubNamespaceName_eventHubName 'Microsoft.EventHub/namespaces/[email protected]' = {
parent: eventHubNamespace
name: eventHubName
properties: {
messageRetentionInDays: 7
partitionCount: 1
}
}

// Grant Listen and Send on our event hub

resource eventHubNamespaceName_eventHubName_ListenSend 'Microsoft.EventHub/namespaces/eventhubs/[email protected]' = {
parent: eventHubNamespaceName_eventHubName
name: 'ListenSend'
properties: {
rights: [
'Listen'
'Send'
]
}
dependsOn: [
eventHubNamespace
]
}

// Create a storage account

var storageAccountName = 'stdemo'

resource eventHubNamespaceName_storageAccount 'Microsoft.Storage/[email protected]' = {
name: storageAccountName
location: resourceGroup().location
sku: {
name: 'Standard_LRS'
tier: 'Standard'
}
kind: 'StorageV2'
properties: {
networkAcls: {
bypass: 'AzureServices'
defaultAction: 'Allow'
}
accessTier: 'Hot'
allowBlobPublicAccess: false
minimumTlsVersion: 'TLS1_2'
allowSharedKeyAccess: true
}
}

// create a container inside that storage account

var blobContainerName = 'test-container'

resource storageAccountName_default_containerName 'Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts/blobServices/[email protected]' = {
name: '${storageAccountName}/default/${blobContainerName}'
dependsOn: [
eventHubNamespaceName_storageAccount
]
}

// Determine our connection strings

var blobStorageConnectionString = 'DefaultEndpointsProtocol=https;AccountName=${eventHubNamespaceName_storageAccount.name};EndpointSuffix=${environment().suffixes.storage};AccountKey=${listKeys(eventHubNamespaceName_storageAccount.id, eventHubNamespaceName_storageAccount.apiVersion).keys[0].value}'
var eventHubNamespaceConnectionString = listKeys(eventHubNamespaceName_eventHubName_ListenSend.id, eventHubNamespaceName_eventHubName_ListenSend.apiVersion).primaryConnectionString

// Output our variables

output blobStorageConnectionString string = blobStorageConnectionString
output blobContainerName string = blobContainerName
output eventHubNamespaceConnectionString string = eventHubNamespaceConnectionString
output eventHubName string = eventHubName

This might be consumed in an Azure Pipeline that looks like this:

- bash: az bicep build --file infra/our-test-app/main.bicep
displayName: 'Compile Bicep to ARM'

- task: [email protected]
name: DeploySharedInfra
displayName: Deploy Shared ARM Template
inputs:
deploymentScope: Resource Group
azureResourceManagerConnection: ${{ parameters.serviceConnection }}
subscriptionId: $(subscriptionId)
action: Create Or Update Resource Group
resourceGroupName: $(azureResourceGroup)
location: $(location)
templateLocation: Linked artifact
csmFile: 'infra/our-test-app/main.json' # created by bash script
deploymentMode: Incremental
deploymentOutputs: deployOutputs

- task: [email protected]
name: 'SetOutputVariables'
displayName: 'Set Output Variables'
inputs:
targetType: inline
script: |
$armOutputObj = '$(deployOutputs)' | ConvertFrom-Json
$armOutputObj.PSObject.Properties | ForEach-Object {
$keyname = $_.Name
$value = $_.Value.value

# Creates a standard pipeline variable
Write-Output "##vso[task.setvariable variable=$keyName;]$value"

# Creates an output variable
Write-Output "##vso[task.setvariable variable=$keyName;issecret=true;isOutput=true]$value"

# Display keys in pipeline
Write-Output "output variable: $keyName"
}
pwsh: true

Above we can see:

  • the Bicep get compiled to ARM
  • the ARM is deployed to Azure, with deploymentOutputs being passed out at the end
  • the outputs are turned into secret output variables inside the pipeline (the names of which are printed to the console)

With the above in place, we now have all of our variables in place; blobStorageConnectionString, blobContainerName, eventHubNamespaceConnectionString and eventHubName. These could now be consumed in whatever way is useful. Consider the following:

- task: [email protected]
displayName: 'Install .NET Core SDK 3.1.x'
inputs:
packageType: 'sdk'
version: 3.1.x

- task: DotNe[email protected]
displayName: 'dotnet run eventhub test'
inputs:
command: 'run'
arguments: 'eventhub test --eventHubNamespaceConnectionString "$(eventHubNamespaceConnectionString)" --eventHubName "$(eventHubName)" --blobStorageConnectionString "$(blobStorageConnectionString)" --blobContainerName "$(blobContainerName)"'
workingDirectory: '$(Build.SourcesDirectory)/OurTestApp'

Here we run a .NET application and pass it our connection strings. Please note, there's nothing .NET specific about what we're doing above - it could be any kind of application, bash script or similar that consumes our connection strings. The significant thing is that we can acquire connection strings in an automated fashion, for use in whichever manner pleases us.