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Two Attributes are required for the SAML Assertions to AWS

*Note – SAML sessions with AWS are only valid for up to 1 hour, for more information take a look at AssumeRoleWithSAML

Configuring the BIG-IP

Configure BIG-IP IdP Service

Create new External SP Connectors

Navigate to Access Policy > SAML > BIG-IP as IDP > External SP Connecotrs ,and Import the metadata from AWS and name it

*Note – The AWS metadata file can be found here AWS Metadata File


Create new IdP Service

Under Local IdP Services create the IdP service that will be used for IdP Initiated SAML with AWS

General Settings


  • The IdP Service Name value is arbitrary and is used uniquely identify the configuration element
  • The IdP Entity ID value is used to uniquely identify this SAML resource within the Service Providers sso configuration

Assertion Settings


  • The Assertion Subject Type is used by the Service Provider to identify the type and format of the Subject (Different SP’s have different requirements for this field, a majority of the time Entity Identifier or Unspecified will work)
  • The Assertion Subject Value contains the primary identifier of the user

SAML Attributes

There are two SAML attributes that are required for the SAML assertion. The first one is used to identify the Username that will be associated to the session and the second will identify the AWS Security Role that should be assigned to the session

Attribute NameAttribute Value[Account #]:role/%{},arn:aws:iam::[Account #]:saml-provider/[IdP Name]{session.logon.last.logonname}




*Note – If you are having a hard time identifying your account number you can find it listed on the Identify Providers tab under Amazon Web Services > Identity & Access Management >  [IdP Name] after importing the metadata file for your Identify Provider

Security Settings

The security settings tab is used to identify the certificate that should be used to sign and verify the SAML Assertion.


Bind SP Connector

Under Local IdP Services click the checkbox next to your newly created IdP service and select Bind/Unbind SP Connectors, search for the SP Connector you created earlier and click the checkbox next to it.

Export IdP Service Metadata

Under Local IdP Services click the checkbox next to your newly created IdP service and select Export Metadata. Store this file for later, it will be needed when we configure AWS.

Create new SAML Resource

Navigate to Access Policy > SAML > SAML Resource and Import the metadata from AWS and name it

SAML Resources are assigned to users within the APM visual policy editor, these resources can be assigned based on group membership or other logic.


*Note – The Publish on Webtop checkbox is only required for Portal initiated SAML Assertions (IdP Initiated). 

Configure BIG-IP APM Access Policy

*Note – This section assumes you have already created the required APM Access Profile, if you need more information on creating an Access Profile please see Creating an access profile

VPE Initial Configuration

Typically when working with the Visual Policy Editor you will see a logical flow that looks similar to the image below. Users are presented with a login page that collects their credentials and then validates them against an authentication database of some type (In this case Active Directory).


Update VPE to query for additional attributes

To enable VPE to intelligently assign AWS Security Role we need to update the configuration to use the AD Query resource object. This object will allow us to identify the group membership attributes of a user.

The only Required Attribute in this configuration is memberof


Assign AWS Roles (Basic)

Step 1 – Group Membership

Following the successful AD Auth branch add the Empty resource object and set the branch rules to filter based on AD Group Membership



The expression logic should look similar to the snippet listed below

expr { [mcget {}] contains "CN=aws_SamlAdmin," }

Step 2 – Populate Assertion Roles

For each branch specified in Step 1 add a Variable Assign resource object. Each Variable Assign object should contain an entry specifying that the variable will be set to a defined string of text.

*Note – the maps to the variable we specified earlier in this document when creating the IdP Service

Assuming that you will assign three different groups the following maps should work

  • Administrator
    • SamlAdmin
  • Power User
    • SamlPowerUser
  • Read Only
    • SamlReadOnly




After you create all of the required variables it should look similar to the screenshot below


Assign AWS Roles (Advanced)

It is possible to achieve the same results above using a single resource object within the VPE, to do this we will use the Variable Assign resource object. The only difference is we will us conditional logic within the “Custom Expression” section when setting the variable value.

*Note – the maps to the variable we specified earlier in this document when creating the IdP Service

Assuming that you will assign three different groups the following maps should work

  • Administrator
    • SamlAdmin
  • Power User
    • SamlPowerUser
  • Read Only
    • SamlReadOnly




As you can see this results in a much simpler VPE policy


Assign AWS SAML Resource

Now that we have created the logic to populate the appropriate variables we need to assign the SAML Resource, to do this we will use the Advanced Resource Assign object.

After adding the Advanced Resource Assign object add the SAML resource we created earlier and a webtop object.




Now when users login to the Federation Portal they should see an Icon that will initiate a SAML Assertion to the AWS Management Console.

*Note 1 => The SAML assertion will be invalid until the AWS portion of this configuration is complete

*Note 2 => The VPE logic setup in the Assign AWS Roles (Advanced) section will display the AWS icon for all users regardless if they are in the right AD Security Groups. To only display the AWS icon for the appropriate groups additional VPE logic will be required.

Configure Amazon Web Services

Import Metadata File

After logging into the AWS Management Console browse to Amazon Web Services > Identity & Access Management >  Identify Providers and select Create Provider

*Note – This section assumes that you exported a copy of your metadata file after creating your IdP Service earlier.


Configure AWS Security Roles

After importing your Identify Provider into the AWS Management Console browse to Amazon Web Services > Identity & Access Management >  Roles and select Create New Role.

*Note – You will need to repeat this section for each AWS Role you want to map to a different SAML Assertion attribute.

Set Role Name

The Role Name should map to the SAML Assertion value defined earlier when creating the VPE variables section


Select Role Type

When specifying the Role Type expand Role for Identify Provider Access and select Grant Web Single Sign-On (WebSSO) access to SAML providers


Establish Trust

Select the SAML Provider that you created earlier when importing the metadata file


Attach Policy

This section is used to assign permissions to the session that will be created for the user during their SAML Session. In this snippet I searched for Administrator but you can also find policies for PowerUser and ReadOnly



After saving your configuration you should now be able to initiate a SAML session from your IdP.




I have to configure F5 as IdP provider for AWS accounts and this article is very useful. However, in my situation I have multiple AWS accounts. I assume that we will have to create an IdP for each AWS account. I am just wondering if it is possible to login once through the IdP Portal, but the IdP portal provides you with a list of all AWS accounts that you are authorised to access.


Cheers Reaz



Reaz... I do am doing this as well, did you end up with an IdP for each account or did you do something different?


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The AWS SSO endpoint can consume multiple attribute values (roles) for attribute "; provided by the IdP assertion. The result being an AWS UI prompting the end-user to choose a role to sign in as. To support this use case on the BIG-IP APM as IdP you will need to accomplish the following for each IdP auth attempt:

1. Iterate through AD group membership
2. For every AD group associated with an AWS role, add the whole AWS role string to a list of AWS roles
3. Assign the AWS role list to a session variable
4. Assign the AWS role list session variable to the AWS role attribute in the IdP settings

Note: The final solution will be the configuration discussed in this article with the caveat of changing the variable assign action in the VPE logic and changing the AWS role's attribute value to the session variable in the IdP configuration object. I.e. this procedure is instead of "Assign AWS Roles (Basic)" and "Assign AWS Roles (Advanced)" from this article. hich could be referred to as "Assign AWS Roles (Advanced+)":

To accomplish steps 1-3, create a variable assign action in the VPE, or edit the existing one, just after AD query, with variable and the following VPE TCL expression:

set roles "|";
set groups [mcget {}];
foreach group $groups {
    switch -glob $group {
        "CN=[AD Group Name]*" {
            append roles " arn:aws:iam::[Account ]:role/[Role Name],arn:aws:iam::[Account ]:saml-provider/[IdP Name] |"
        "CN=[AD Group Name]*" {
            append roles " arn:aws:iam::[Account ]:role/[Role Name],arn:aws:iam::[Account ]:saml-provider/[IdP Name] |"
        "CN=[AD Group Name]*" {
            append roles " arn:aws:iam::[Account ]:role/[Role Name],arn:aws:iam::[Account ]:saml-provider/[IdP Name] |"
return $roles;

Note1: you will need to substitute values for [AD Group Name], [Account ], [Role Name] and [IdP Name] that are appropriate for your environment.

Note2: the space between '"' and 'arn:aws' in the VPE TCL expression is on purpose and important to leave as is.

Note3: the resulting roles string will be in format "| role | role | role |". The significance of this format comes from a BIG-IP as IdP feature introduced in BIG-IP v12.1.0 where each attribute value between the pipe characters will become an individual attribute value in the assertion. For example, the attribute value "| role | role | role |" for attribute name "; will become the following in the assertion:


To accomplish step 4, within the IdP configuration object, create a SAML attribute with name, or edit the existing one, and value %{}.

Final note: I have proven this use case on BIG-IP as IdP and confirmed that the assertion generated by it contains the multi-attribute values appropriate for an AWS SSO endpoint to consume. However, I have yet to test it with an AWS SSO endpoint. If anyone implements this use case then a comment describing your experience (did it work? did it fail?) would be much appreciated.

Regards, Jacob


I used this document to deploy a SAML configuration with AWS GovCloud; it generally worked well with a few modifications:


  1. You have to import the GovCloud metadata otherwise when the SAML assertion is sent AWS will report that the Identity Provider or Role does not exist.
  2. No matter which method is used in determining the role to be assigned, the statements "arn:aws:iam" must be replaced with "arn:aws-gov-us:iam" or again, AWS will report that the Role does not exist.
  3. I originally attempted to use "Assign AWS Roles (Advanced+)" method provided by Jacob Newfield above and it worked well right up to the part where the multi-value SAML assertions was to be generated. Instead of sending:

 "; NameFormat="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:attrname-format:unspecified" > A B C


The following SAML code would be sent:


| A | B | C | 


If you've not guessed by now, AWS reports a Role not found error here as well. I ended up munging Advanced and Advanced+ which will be henceforth known as 'Advanced-Hybrid" because I think that using a session variable in the SAML Attribute section is cleaner. TIMTOWTDI.


Ultimately I'd love to see the MV SAML assertion method work because I think that we may eventually need multi-role users. We will see if F5 support can assist with why the conversion is not taking place.




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Hi sseery,

It appears there is a space just after the last pipe in the string glob you posted:

| A | B | C | 

I just confirmed this would cause the reported issue.

Check your VPE TCL expression and resulting variable value to ensure there are no inappropriate characters.

Regards, Jacob

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Last update:
‎01-Oct-2015 17:11
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