Workload Identity Federation

This document provides an overview of Workload Identity Federation. Using Workload Identity Federation, you can provide on-premises or multicloud workloads with access to Google Cloud resources by using federated identities instead of a service account key.

You can use Workload Identity Federation with workloads that run on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure; on-premises Active Directory; deployment services, such as GitHub and GitLab; and with any identity provider (IdP) that supports OpenID Connect (OIDC) or Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) V2.0.

Why Workload Identity Federation?

Traditionally, applications running outside Google Cloud can use service account keys to access Google Cloud resources. However, service account keys are powerful credentials, and can present a security risk if they are not managed correctly. Workload Identity Federation eliminates the maintenance and security burden associated with service account keys.

With Workload Identity Federation, you can use Identity and Access Management (IAM) to grant to external identities IAM roles, direct access on Google Cloud resources. You can also grant access through service account impersonation.

Workload identity pools

A workload identity pool is an entity that lets you manage external identities.

In general, we recommend creating a new pool for each non-Google Cloud environment that needs to access Google Cloud resources, such as development, staging, or production environments.

Workload identity pool providers

A workload identity pool provider is an entity that describes a relationship between Google Cloud and your IdP, including the following:

  • AWS
  • Azure AD
  • GitHub
  • GitLab
  • Kubernetes clusters
  • Okta
  • On-premises Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS)
  • Terraform

Workload Identity Federation follows the OAuth 2.0 token exchange specification. You provide a credential from your IdP to the Security Token Service, which verifies the identity on the credential, and then returns a federated token in exchange.

OIDC provider with local JWKs

To federate workloads that don't have a public OIDC endpoint, you can upload OIDC JSON Web Key Sets (JWKS) directly to the pool. This is common if you have Terraform or GitHub Enterprise hosted in your own environment or you have regulatory requirements not to expose public URLs. For more information, see Manage OIDC JWKs (Optional)

Attribute mappings

The tokens issued by your external IdP contain one or more attributes. Some IdPs refer to these attributes as claims.

Google Security Token Service tokens also contain one or more attributes, as listed in the following table:

Attribute Description
google.subject Required. A unique identifier for the user. This attribute is used in IAM principal:// role bindings and appears in Cloud Logging logs. The value must be unique and can't exceed 127 characters.
google.groups Optional. A set of groups that the identity belongs to. This attribute is used in IAM principalSet:// role bindings to grant access to all members of a group.
attribute.NAME Optional. You can define up to 50 custom attributes and use these attributes in IAM principalSet:// role bindings to grant access to all identities with a certain attribute.

An attribute mapping defines how to derive the value of the Google Security Token Service token attribute from an external token. For each Google Security Token Service token attribute, you can define an attribute mapping, formatted as follows:


Replace the following:

  • TARGET_ATTRIBUTE is an attribute of the Google Security Token Service token
  • SOURCE_EXPRESSION is a Common Expression Language (CEL) expression that transforms one or more attributes from the tokens issued by your external IdP

The following list provides attribute mapping examples:

  • Assign the assertion attribute sub to google.subject:

  • Concatenate multiple assertion attributes:

    google.subject="myprovider::" + assertion.aud + "::" + assertion.sub
  • Map a GUID-valued assertion attribute workload_id to a name, and assign the result to a custom attribute named attribute.my_display_name:

      "8bb39bdb-1cc5-4447-b7db-a19e920eb111": "Workload1",
      "55d36609-9bcf-48e0-a366-a3cf19027d2a": "Workload2"
  • Use CEL logical operators and functions to set a custom attribute named attribute.environment to either prod or test, depending on the identity's Amazon Resource Name (ARN):

    attribute.environment=assertion.arn.contains(":instance-profile/Production") ? "prod" : "test"
  • Use the extract function to populate a custom attribute aws_role with the name of the assumed role or, if no role has been assumed, with the identity's ARN.

    attribute.aws_role=assertion.arn.contains('assumed-role') ? assertion.arn.extract('{account_arn}assumed-role/') + 'assumed-role/' + assertion.arn.extract('assumed-role/{role_name}/') : assertion.arn
  • split function splits a string on the provided separator value. For example, to extract the attribute username from an email address attribute by splitting its value at the @ and using the first string, use the following attribute mapping:"@")[0]

  • join function joins a list of strings on the provided separator value. For example, to populates the custom attribute department by concatenating a list of strings with . as a separator, use the following attribute mapping:


For AWS, Google provides default mappings, which cover most common scenarios. You can also supply custom mappings.

For OIDC providers, you supply the mappings. To construct the mapping, consult the provider's documentation for a list of attributes on their credentials.

For more details, see the API documentation for the attributeMapping field.

Attribute conditions

An attribute condition is a CEL expression that can check assertion attributes and target attributes. If the attribute condition evaluates to true for a given credential, the credential is accepted. Otherwise, the credential is rejected.

You can use an attribute condition to restrict which identities can authenticate using your workload identity pool.

Attribute conditions are useful in scenarios such as the following:

  • If your workload uses an IdP that's available to the general public, you can restrict access so only the identities you choose have access to your workload identity pool.

  • If you're using an IdP with multiple cloud platforms, you can prevent credentials intended for use with another platform from being used with Google Cloud, and vice-versa. This helps avoid the confused deputy problem.

The attribute condition for a workload identity pool provider can use the assertion keyword, which refers to a map that represents the authentication credential issued by the IdP. You can use dot notation to access the map's values. For example, AWS credentials include an arn value, which you can access as assertion.arn. In addition, the attribute condition can use any attribute that is defined in the provider's attribute mapping.

The following example only allows requests from identities that have a specific AWS role:

attribute.aws_role == "ROLE_MAPPING"

For more details, see the API documentation for the attributeCondition field.

Access management

The token exchange flow returns a federated access token. You can use this federated access token to grant your workload access on behalf of principal identities on Google Cloud resources and obtain a short-lived OAuth 2.0 access token.

You can use this access token to provide IAM access.

We recommend that you use Workload Identity Federation to provide access directly to a Google Cloud resource. Although most Google Cloud APIs support Workload Identity Federation, some APIs have limitations. As an alternative, you can use service account impersonation.

The short-lived access token lets you call any Google Cloud APIs that the resource or service account has access to.

Direct resource access

You can use direct resource access to grant to your external identity access directly on a Google Cloud resource using resource-specific roles.

Alternative: Service account impersonation

As an alternative to providing direct resource access you can use service account impersonation.

You must grant your service account the role Workload Identity User (roles/iam.workloadIdentityUser).

Principal scopes and security

You grant access to principals or subsets thereof by using principal types.

Principal types

The following table describes how to define principals as individuals and groups of identities:

Identities Identifier format
Single identity principal://
All identities in a group principalSet://
All identities with a specific attribute value principalSet://

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