Deploy Azure Key Vault Extension to Azure Arc-enabled Ubuntu server and use a Key Vault managed certificate with Nginx

The scenario will show you how to onboard the Azure Key Vault extension on an Azure Arc-enabled server, and then use a certificate managed by Azure Key Vault to secure web traffic with TLS on a web server.

in this scenario, we will focus on securing an Ubuntu web server. The only prerequisite you need to complete for this scenario is an existing Azure Arc-enabled server running Ubuntu 18.04 (other Ubuntu releases may also work but have not been tested).

NOTE: This guide assumes you already deployed an Ubuntu server that is running on-premises or in other clouds and you have connected them to Azure Arc but If you haven’t, this repository offers you a way to do so in an automated fashion:


  • Clone the Azure Arc Jumpstart repository

    git clone
  • As mentioned, this scenario starts at the point where you already deployed and connected VMs or bare-metal servers to Azure Arc. For this scenario, as can be seen in the screenshots below, we will be using an Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2 instance that has been already connected to Azure Arc and is visible as a resource in Azure.

    Screenshot showing EC2 instance in AWS console

    Screenshot showing Azure Arc-enabled server

  • Install or update Azure CLI to version 2.42.0 and above. Use the below command to check your current installed version.

    az --version

Create an Azure Key Vault and a new self-signed certificate

First, we will create a new Azure resource group, Azure Key Vault and a self-signed certificate from an Az CLI.

  • Create a new resource group to hold the key vault resource.

    az group create --name <name for your resource group> --location <location for your resource group>

    Screenshot of creating a resource group from Az CLI

  • Create a new key vault resource. Note that key vault names must be globally unique.

    az keyvault create --name <name for your keyvault> --location <location> --resource-group <name of your resource group>

    Screenshot of creating a keyvault from Az CLI

  • Create a new self-signed certificate with keyvault.

    az keyvault certificate create --vault-name arckeyvault1 -n cert1 -p "$(az keyvault certificate get-default-policy)"

    Screenshot of creating a self-signed certificate from Az CLI

Install and configure Nginx on your Azure Arc-enabled Ubuntu server

We will use the Azure Custom Script extension on your Azure Arc-enabled server to install and configure an Nginx web server. Before installing Nginx, we must open the right inbound ports on our AWS EC2 instance’s security group. Then we will deploy an ARM template that will use the custom script extension to install Nginx.

  • Navigate to your EC2 instance on the AWS cloud console and open the “allow-all-sg” security group.

    Screenshot of an EC2 instance in AWS cloud console

  • Click on the “Inbound” tab of the security group and then click “Edit”.

    Screenshot of a security group in AWS cloud console

    Screenshot of a security group in AWS cloud console

  • Click “Add Rule” and add HTTP and HTTPS rules, keeping all the default seeings as seen in the screenshot. Click Save.

    Screenshot of adding a security group rule in AWS cloud console

    Screenshot of added a security group rule in AWS cloud console

  • Configure Key Vault to allow Azure Arc-enabled server to access secrets

    • Navigate to your Key Vault and open the “Access Policies” blade

      Screenshot of the Access Policies blade in a Key Vault

    • Click “Add access policy” and in the dropdown for “Secret Permissions” check Get and List.

      Screenshot showing “Add access policy” for Key Vault

    • Next to “Select principal” Click “None selected” and search for your Azure Arc-enabled server machine name and select it.

      Screenshot showing “Add access policy” for Key Vault

    • Click “Save” to commit the changes.

      Screenshot showing “Add access policy” for Key Vault

  • Use Custom Script extension to install Nginx and configure Key Vault extension

    • Modify the values of nginx-keyvault.parameters.json for the following parameters with values for your environment:

      Screenshot showing example parameters for nginx-keyvault.parameters.json

    • Run the deployment with the following Az CLI command.

      az deployment group create --resource-group <name of your resource group> --template-file nginx-keyvault.json --parameters nginx-keyvault.parameters.json

      Screenshot showing ARM deployment completing

  • SSH into your Azure Arc-enabled server to update the Nginx configuration to use the certificate.

    Screenshot showing SSH into Azure Arc-enabled server

    • Open /etc/nginx/conf.d/ssl.conf using nano or your preferred text editor.

      nano /etc/nginx/conf.d/ssl.conf

      Screenshot showing nano editing /etc/nginx/conf.d/ssl.conf

    • Edit the file updating the following lines with the correct path to your certificate.

      ssl_certificate /etc/ssl/certs/<your cert filename>;
      ssl_certificate_key /etc/ssl/certs/<your cert filename>;

      Your filename will be of the format ‘keyvault_name’.‘certificate_name’ (all lowercase). For example, if your Key Vault is named “myKeyVault” and your certificate is named “cert1” then your filename will be “mykeyvault.cert1”. See the screens below for a before and after example.

      Screenshot showing unedited /etc/nginx/conf.d/ssl.conf

      Screenshot showing edited /etc/nginx/conf.d/ssl.conf

    • Restart the nginx service by running the following command.

      sudo service nginx restart

      Screenshot showing restart of nginx service

  • Test everything by accessing your Nginx webserver over HTTPS. Open a browser and enter “https://XX.XX.XX.XX” into the address bar, replacing the placeholder with the public IP address of your server.

    • You should see a warning describing that your connection is not private or secure. The message will vary depending on which web browser you use.

      Screenshot showing accessing web server in browser

    • If you are using Microsoft Edge, you can validate that your certificate is being used by comparing the certificate thumbprint reported in the browser with your certificate thumbprint in Key Vault, as seen in the screenshots below. Click the “Not secure” box to the left of the address bar, then click “Certificate (not valid)” and open the “Details” tab to view the thumbprint.

      Screenshot showing browser certificate thumbprint

      Screenshot showing browser certificate thumbprint

      Screenshot showing Key Vault certificate thumbprint

Clean up environment

Complete the following steps to clean up your environment.