Working with Azure Functions and the Azure API Management (APIM) offering

Posted On Mar 17, 2021 |

2020-12-04 11:11 pm #FestiveTechCalendar

Azure Functions and APIM

In this walk-through, you will be guided through securing your Azure Functions so that a random user can’t just execute your functions, even if they have the function key and full function URL. Therefore, by the end of this walk-through you’ll have more security available than what you would get from just using a function key alone.

The overarching goal is to create your public-facing Application Programming Interface (API) in such a way that you can leverage Azure Functions without the functions being open to the world, and then you can use Azure API Management (APIM) as a public-facing facade to let specific customers into the appropriate APIs.

With APIM, you will not only be able to expose your own APIs as needed, but you can also route users to a third-party API without them even knowing you are using the third-party API, if you need to do so. Even if the customers do know that you are using a third-party API, all they need from you is one URL to access all of the APIs you need to expose to them. This also protects the customers from having to know what your third-party API key is, since they will never need to call the third-party API directly.

APIM also has additional gains when it comes to dealing with bad players. With APIM you can easily throttle users on an API. If you use a plan other than the consumption plan, you can further throttle the API by specific IP or subscription key. This functionality won’t be covered in this walk-through, but you will be set up to use it if you want to go deeper in the future.

Festive Tech Calendar

This walkthrough is featured in day 6 of the festive tech calendar!

Watch the video of me working through this walkthrough here: Festive Tech Calendar [day 6]: Azure Functions and APIM

More info about the Festive Tech Calendar

Getting started

To get started, you will need the following:

  • Visual Studio 2019 Community (or better)
    Visual Studio 2019 Download
    or Visual Studio Code (not covered in this walk-through, but useable) Visual Studio Code Download.
  • Azure Functions tools for local debugging (optional for this walk-through. If you do not have the tools you will want them for local debugging. You can get them by making sure you install them with the Visual Studio installer - Azure development workload).
  • An Azure Account with ownership on the subscription.
  • PostMan, another API tester, or an ability to run curl commands

Create a simple Azure Functions Function App

To simulate your current functions at Azure, for use in this walk-through you’ll just use a simple function app. This function app will contain a couple of simple functions so that you can see a few of the features of APIM later in the walk-through.

  1. Create a function app with a couple of functions. To begin, open Visual Studio 2019 and create a new Azure Function app.Select the Function App Template to create a new function app project
    Select the Function App Template to create a new function app project
    Name the Function app something like SimpleFunctions
    Select a folder that makes sense to you for storing the function app, then hit the Create button.Create the function app
    Create the function app
    Leave the defaults to choose an Http Trigger and use the Storage emulator and give the function an authorization level of Function.Leave defaults set to create an Http triggered function with function authorization level
    Leave defaults set to create an Http triggered function with function authorization level
    Once the app is created, rename the first function to SimpleAuthorizationFunction by right-clicking on the Function1.cs file and renaming:
    Make sure to also update the FunctionName attribute to reflect the new name.Rename the default function
    Rename the default function
    Add a second function by right-clicking on the project and selecting Add -> New Azure Function.Create a second function
    Create a second function
    Name the function SimpleAnonymousFunction
    For this function, choose Anonymous authorization and an Http TriggerChoose HttpTrigger and Anonymous
    Choose HttpTrigger and Anonymous
    At this point you should have two functions, one with a function key and one without.Current Solution Explorer
    Current Solution Explorer
  2. Test the functions. Run the project to test the two functions locally. There is no sense in pushing to Azure if they do not work locally. Note that both function URLs are listed in the output for the terminal:Current Solution Explorer
    Current Solution Explorer
    Executing the anonymous function is working as expected when navigating to the url:
    Executing the anonymous function
    Executing the anonymous function
    The other function will work as well, even without a key, while being run locally. Feel free to test it if you desire.
  3. Provision resources at Azure. Now that your function app is ready to go, you should deploy it to Azure. To do this, first you must provision a couple of resources. This demonstration will use the Azure Cloud Shell. Feel free to just create the appropriate resources however you choose at Azure. You will need:
    • Resource Group
    • Storage Account
    • Consumption based Function App w/plan
    Open your browser to your azure portal. Once in the browser, open the Azure Cloud Shell and select Bash as the terminal. When the terminal is connected, run the following command [note: you should change the location to a region near you [az account list-locations –query “[].{Name:name}” -o table]]:
    echo $rgname
    echo $loc
    az group create --location $loc --name $rgname
    The resource group is created
    The resource group is created
    Once the resource group is created, add a new azure function app to the resource group by executing the following commands:
    echo $storagename
    az storage account create --name $storagename --location $loc --resource-group $rgname --sku Standard_LRS
    This will create your storage account for the Azure Function App.The function app storage account is created
    The function app storage account is created
    Now create the function app with the following commands:
    echo $fAppName  
    az functionapp create --name $fAppName --storage-account $storagename --consumption-plan-location $loc --resource-group $rgname --functions-version 3
    NOTE: Make sure your function version matches what you created in Visual Studio (likely 3 at this point).
    This will create everything you need to deploy the app. Browse to the resource group to see all of the provisioned resources.The function app is created, resources exist as expected in the resource group
    The function app is created, resources exist as expected in the resource group
  4. Deploy the function app. Return to Visual Studio, and make sure the project for your function app is still open, then select Build -> PublishPublish the web app
    Publish the web app
    Select Azure and Next.Publish to Azure
    Publish to Azure
    Select Azure Function App (Windows) and NextSelect Azure Function App (Windows)
    Select Azure Function App (Windows)
    Choose your subscription and the appropriate resource group and function app, then hit FinishSelect the appropriate function app to deploy to
    Select the appropriate function app to deploy to
    Ignore the missing dependencies and hit PublishPublish it
    Publish it
    After some time, the function app will publish and be available at Azure. This is a good time to go get a coffee.
  5. Review the function app. Return to the Azure portal. Browse to the Functions to see that everything deployed as expected.Review the function app functions
    Review the function app functions
    Click on the SimpleAuthorizationFunction to navigate to the function in the portal. Once there, click on Get Function URL to get the URL for the public-facing function.Review the function app functions
    Review the function app functions
    Copy the function URL and open it in a browser. Add the &name=yourname to the end to see that it is working as expected.
    The function works as expected
    The function works as expected
  6. Execute the functions from PostMan. Open your local instance of Postman or whatever client you will use to test your APIs. This tutorial will focus on the use of Postman. Create two function calls - one to each function, using the function URL from the portal for eachCalling the functions from PostMan
    Calling the functions from PostMan
    Once you are satisfied that the functions are working and you can call each through Postman, you are ready to move to the next section.

Secure the functions from public execution

The functions are publicly-exposed, so anyone with the key can execute them. In this task you will lock the functions down so that only authenticated users can execute the functions.

In the previous step, you’ve already proved that the functions are public, because they are accessible from postman. Now you need to lock them down.

  1. Make the functions require authorization. Return to the function app in the portal, and select the Authentication / Authorization option under Settings.the Authentication / Authorization option is open for the function app
    the Authentication / Authorization option is open for the function app
    Turn on the App Service Authentication. Then select Azure Active Directory. This will open the Azure Active Directory Settings for the function app.The Azure Active Directory settings window is open
    The Azure Active Directory settings window is open
    When the window comes up, select Express. Then save with the default settings by hitting OK. If you already had an AD App, you could select it here, but you likely don’t, so you need to create a new one.Creating an AD application
    Creating an AD application
    After hitting OK, you’ll return to the Authentication / Authorization window. Make sure to hit Save to actually save the application settings.Make sure to save the changes
    Make sure to save the changes
    This will create the app. However, you will want to go back into the settings and update to an Advanced instance. Navigate away from the function app by going to the home directory at azure or going to some other resource, then come back to the function app. Select the Authentication / Authorization option again, then change Active Directory to Advanced. This will show you the Client ID and secret. Make a note of the Client ID and secret for use later in this walk-through.Get your Client ID for later use
    Get your Client ID for later use
    Make sure to hit OK and Save again, so that your changes are applied. As a final step, make sure to select Log in with Azure Active Directory in the Action to take when request is not authenticated dropdown.Make sure all requests are authenticated
    Make sure all requests are authenticated
    Make sure to save the page one last time. Your functions are now protected.
  2. Prove the functions are locked down. Return to your Postman or other api query client, and attempt to execute your functions as before. If everything is set correctly, you will get a 401 - Unauthorized error on execution of the function.The functions now respond with a 401 if the user is not authenticated
    The functions now respond with a 401 if the user is not authenticated

Create the APIM

In this task you will create the APIM that you will use for your public-facing facade. You will then create a couple of APIs to separate functions so you can see how the different subscriptions can give access to different clients.

After creating a couple of APIs, you will create a couple of Products, each having one or more subscriptions.

  1. Create the APIM instance. To start, you will need to create a new APIM. To do this, use the hamburger to Create a Resource.Create a new resource
    Create a new resource
    Enter API Management and select it when it pops up in the dropdown.Searching for API Management
    Searching for API Management
    Then hit the Create button.Start the process to create the new API Management
    Start the process to create the new API Management
    Select the appropriate subscription, resource group, region, and name the resource something that makes sense to you for your public-facing api, such as:
    Enter whatever you want for the organization name, and your email for administrator email. Select the Consumption plan in the drop down (Consumption will spin up quickly, others take somewhere around 45 minutes to provision). In the end, you should have settings similar to what is shown here:Settings for creating the APIM instance
    Settings for creating the APIM instance
    On the Monitoring tab, you will likely want to have Application Insights enabled in the real world. For this, you don’t need it. In my instance, I am turning it on and using the same AI instance that is being used by my function app. This is also likely not ideal as you probably don’t want to mix and match these resources into the same AI instance.
    IMPORTANT: In order for this APIM to communicate with the Azure Function App, you need to make sure that this APIM has a managed identity. You can enable that now during creation. In case you forget or didn’t do this, the way to do this will be covered shortly. For the demo, I’m leaving it unchecked on purpose.
    You do want your APIM to have a managed identity
    You do want your APIM to have a managed identity
    Leave the other settings. Feel free to mess around with the protocols if you want to. I am leaving them all to the default of off for this demo - even though this may not be totally feasible in the real world, it should be the safest. Review and Create the APIM instance. This is another opportunity to get a coffee. If you selected a version other than the Consumption plan, you should probably go to lunch. The APIM should be up in about 3-5 minutes. When the deployment completes, you can go to the resource group and drill into the APIM, or you can search for it by searching for API Management Services in the top search bar. Either way, find the APIM you created and navigate to it.API Management Services lists your APIM instances
    API Management Services lists your APIM instances
    Once you are in the APIM Instance, notice a few things. The important points are the menus on the left for APIsSubscriptions, and the Gateway URL which is named after the name you put in for the APIM instance. Additionally, another important menu is Managed Identities which is not shown, but is in the left menu under Security.Reviewing your APIM instance
    Reviewing your APIM instance
  2. Create the APIs to leverage your functions. Ordinarily, you would likely have many more than two functions, so having multiple APIs would make sense. For this demo, you’ll create two APIs. The first will have only the anonymous function, and the second will have both. Begin by hitting the APIs option in the left menu.Creating an API
    Creating an API
    Once you’ve selected the API, use the Function App option to select the function app for use in the API.Use the function app option
    Use the function app option
    Use the browse button to select your function app.Browse to select your function app
    Browse to select your function app
    Select your function app, then you will get to choose what functions to include in this connection.Select your function app
    Select your function app
    Then choose the appropriate functions. For this one, let’s simulate that the Anonymous function is one that we really just want to open up to a lot of people, and the one with the function key is really for preferred or customer clients (yes, it’s contrived, forgive me). Uncheck the Authorization function. Then hit Select.Select your function app
    Select your function app
    When you return to the page for creating the API, change the Display Name to something like
    Also change the API URL suffix to
    Then hit the Create button.Creating the All Public Data API
    Creating the All Public Data API
    Once this API is created, you can review the API and the Operations.Reviewing the API
    Reviewing the API
    Select the GET method, and then hit the Test button at the top.Starting the test process
    Starting the test process
    Once you have the test window open, hit the Send button to send a request.Testing reveals the function call is still unauthorized
    Testing reveals the function call is still unauthorized
    As you can see the function call is still unauthorized. This is a good thing, because your APIM is not currently telling the Function App who it is and that it should be authorized.
  3. Repeat step 2 for the AllCustomerData API. Using the same steps, create a new API that is called
    Use the URL Suffix
    Use the same function app and include bot of your available functions. As before, none of the functions will be authorized, but the API is in place.Testing the Customer API also reveals the function call is still unauthorized
    Testing the Customer API also reveals the function call is still unauthorized
  4. Create a couple of products. Ordinarily, you would have APIs that are exposing separate apps and even third-party APIs. In this demo, you’ve simulated this by splitting your own app into two different APIs. This also simulates what it might be like if you had multiple function apps or APIs in play in a real solution. In addition to creating different APIs, you can create products that expose various pieces of the puzzle. A product can further limit what a customer can see, and can be all of one API, part of one API, or parts of multiple APIs. You can design the products to fit your customers’ needs. For this demo, you will create two products. One that is for the Public data, exposing the SimpleAnonymousFunction from the AllPublicData API. The second product will expose the Customer data, with access to both of the methods from the AllCustomerData API. You could create an additional product to span both APIs, if you needed to do so. Create a new product by hitting the Products option in the left menu. Then hit the + Add button at the top.Starting to add a product
    Starting to add a product
    For the display name use something that makes sense for public data, but don’t use the same name as the API. For example
    Give it a description like
    This is the Public Data Product
    Set it to Published and leave the check boxes for Requires subscription checked and Requires approval unchecked. Then hit the Select API button For this one, only select the AllPublicData Then hit CreateCreating the first product
    Creating the first product
    Add a second product, repeating the above options, but this time select the Customer API. Call this new API
    Additionally, make sure that this product also requires a subscription to be able to be used.Adding the client product
    Adding the client product
    I accidentally forgot to publish the Unrestricted, so I can easily do that now using the ellipses on the far rightPublishing a product
    Publishing a product
  5. Create a couple of subscriptions. Products are great, as they give you a way to be able to separate the APIs that you want various clients to have access to. However, in the previous step you set the products to require a subscription. Drill into the Client product by clicking on it. Note that on the left you can alter Settings, APIs, Policies, and Subscriptions. Select the Subscriptions tab.Reviewing a product
    Reviewing a product
    Next, select + Add subscription and create a new subscription with the name
    And the display name Premium.Creating a subscription
    Creating a subscription
    You could create multiple subscriptions here, and in various APIM instances you can throttle or do other actions based on the subscription. Note that the subscription has keys. Use the ellipses on the right to reveal the keys, then copy one of the keys to your clipboard and save it somewhere for use later.Reviewing subscription keys and options
    Reviewing subscription keys and options
    Return to the default level for your entire APIM, then select Subscriptions. Note that your product subscription is also shown here.Reviewing all subscriptions
    Reviewing all subscriptions
    Drill into the Unrestricted product and add another subscription, named something like
    with DisplayName Basic, and make sure to drill into the subscription and make a note of the subscription key.
  6. Prove that the functions are still denied execution, and get setup to execute from Postman. Before you setup for authentication, make sure you are calling the functions correctly from Postman so that once the authentication is set you can easily see how powerful this can be. Drill into the AllPublicData API, then open the Test for the Get method as you’ve done before. Scroll down a bit and set the test to use the product level scope, selecting UnrestrictedTesting the function again
    Testing the function again
    What’s important is to notice the HTTP Request:The request contains the URL and the header Ocp-Apim-Subscription-Key
    The request contains the URL and the header Ocp-Apim-Subscription-Key
    In the request, you can see the GET request URL and the header for Ocp-Apim-Subscription-Key. This will be critical for your call. In Postman, create a new request. Use the GET URL and save the request as
    AllPublicData Get SimpleAuth
    Which points to the URL
    Note: Your API will vary, of course.
    And hit the send button. You should a message similar to the following:Access is denied due to subscription
    Access is denied due to subscription
    Add a header to the request for the
    Set the value to one of the keys from your Basic subscription. Then resend the request. The message should change back to a 401 - You do not have permission.Access Denied Public Data, but subscription is good
    Access Denied Public Data, but subscription is good
    Repeat this action for another request for the customer data, similar to what is shown in the following image:Access Denied Customer Data, but subscription is good
    Access Denied Customer Data, but subscription is good

Connect the APIM to your Azure Function App

The main trick to getting this to work is to let your APIM instance work as if it is an authenticated user, so that the APIM can leverage your Azure Functions.

  1. Ensure the identity for the APIM instance. When you created the APIM instance, you likely gave it a managed identity. I didn’t on purpose to ensure that I needed to do it manually. In the APIM instance in the portal, select the left menu item Managed Identities which is under the Security. Set the status to On for System Assigned (If you already set this, you will already have a system assigned id).Ensuring a System Assigned Identity
    Ensuring a System Assigned Identity
    Hit Save, then Yes to create the id.Reviewing the System Assigned Identity
    Reviewing the System Assigned Identity
    The identity is now assigned.
  2. Wire up every call from the APIM to send the function app id for communication. When you created the function app and set it to require authentication, an App Registration was created. Navigate to the App Registrations now.Find your app in the app registrations
    Find your app in the app registrations
    The ID you need is right there in the grid -> the Application (client) ID. However, if you drill into the app registration, you can easily copy it to your clipboard:Get your app id
    Get your app id
    Now that you have the application id, Return to the APIM instance to set the connection.
  3. Add a policy to authenticate the APIM against the function app. Go to your APIM instance, then find the APIs and click on All APIs then click on the Policies to open the All APIs -> Policies window:Open the inbound policies for ALL Apis
    Open the inbound policies for ALL Apis
    Add the following policy to your <inbound /> policies:
    <authentication-managed-identity resource="your-function-app-client-id-goes-here" />
    The policy is set
    The policy is set
    Save your changes.The policy is shown in the inbound processing
    The policy is shown in the inbound processing
  4. Prove the functions can now be called from the APIM. Use the built-in testing to test your APIs.One of the APIs is tested
    One of the APIs is tested
    Note that the request is now 200 OK.
  5. Return to Postman and run your requests using the subscription key. The first run will reveal they work, then you just need to add the query parameter for Name to get the expected result.The APIs now work from Postman with the correct subscription and authorization through APIM
    The APIs now work from Postman with the correct subscription and authorization through APIM
    Add the parameter for the query string and you will get the result you desire from either function, as long as the subscription is good:Results are as expected for the public API call
    Results are as expected for the public API call
    Results are now as expected for the public and customer API calls via PostmanResults are as expected for the customer API call
    Results are as expected for the customer API call
  6. Ensure that only subscription calls work via APIM. To prove that the calls don’t work without the correct subscription, take any of the APIM URLs and place it in a browser:Without a subscription, you don’t get data
    Without a subscription, you don’t get data


In this walk-through, you have seen how you can easily create a function app, deploy it to azure, lock down the function app to require authentication, and then use a public-facing facade created by the Azure APIM to allow users to get into the correct functions via subscription keys.

At the end of this walk-through, you have made it so the only gateway into your azure functions (APIs) is via the APIM or an authenticated user. When this is set, direct calls to your functions are blocked unless the user is authenticated. Additionally, you prevented direct calls to your APIM methods by requiring a subscription on each of the APIs. You saw how to easily add products and subscriptions to group your clients, and noted that you can easily rotate these subscription tokens if things go off track.

If you enjoyed this walk through, you should go deeper. At Opsgility, we have a training where you can explore these concepts and more in our Azure App Security challenge, and you can also earn a badge by completing this training. Check out our schedule here, or contact us to find out more about how you can take the Azure App Security challenge or other trainings through Skill Me UP Academy.

Next Steps

Additional concepts you will want to learn to enhance your knowledge include using the APIM to throttle bad players, version your APIs, connect to Azure Key Vault and get secrets, and do other things like make sure that users can’t see what your APIs are doing via the functions.


Create a function app in bash

Authorization Endpoints

Authenticate with Azure AD

Transform your API

Categories: C#, Azure, Azure Functions, APIM, Managed Identity, Azure AD