Eugene Lee

Spin up AF Server container (Kerberos enabled)

Blog Post created by Eugene Lee on May 30, 2018

Note: Development and Testing purposes only. Not supported in production environments.


Link to other containerization articles

Containerization Hub



In one of my previous blog posts, I was spinning up an AF Server container using local accounts for authentication. For non-production purposes, this is fine. But since Kerberos is the authentication method that we recommend, I would like to show you that it is also possible to use Kerberos authentication for the AF Server container. To do this, you will have to involve a domain administrator since a Group Managed Service Account (GMSA) will need to be created. Think of GMSA as a usable version of the Managed Service Account. A single gMSA can be used for multiple hosts. For more details about GMSA, you can refer to this article: Group Managed Service Accounts Overview



You will need the AF Server image from this blog post.

Spin up AF Server container (SQL Server included)



1. Request GMSA from your domain administrator. The steps are listed here.

Add-KDSRootKey -EffectiveTime (Get-Date).AddHours(-10) #Best is to wait 10 hours after running this command to make sure that all domain controllers have replicated before proceeding
Add-WindowsFeature RSAT-AD-PowerShell
New-ADServiceAccount -name <name> -DNSHostName <dnshostname> -PrincipalsAllowedToRetrieveManagedPassword <containerhostname> -ServicePrincipalNames "AFServer/<name>"

2. Once you have the GMSA, you can proceed to install it on your container host.

Install-ADServiceAccount <name>

3. Test that the GMSA is working. You should get a return value of True

Test-ADServiceAccount <name>

4. Get script to create AF Server container with Kerberos.

Invoke-WebRequest "" -UseBasicParsing -OutFile New-KerberosAFServer.ps1

5. Create a new AF Server container

.\New-KerberosAFServer.ps1 -ContainerName <containername> -AccountName <name>



Now you can open up PI System Explorer on your container host to connect to your containerized AF Server with the <name> parameter that you have been using in the procedure section. On the very first connect, you should connect with the afadmin user (password:qwert123!) so that you can set up mappings for your domain accounts. Otherwise, your domain accounts will only have 'World' permissions. After you set up your mappings, you can choose to delete that afadmin user or just keep it. With the mappings for your domain account created, you can now disconnect from your AF Server and reconnect to it with Kerberos authentication. From now on, you do not need explicit logins for your AF Server anymore!



We can see that security is not a limitation when it comes to using an AF Server container. It is just more troublesome to get it going and requires the intervention of a domain administrator. However, this will remove the need of using local accounts for authentication which is definitely a step towards using the AF Server container for production. I will be showing how to overcome some limitations of containers in future posts such as letting containers have static IP and the ability to communicate outside of the host.


New updates (3 Aug 2018)

Script updated to allow GMSA to work in both child and parent domains. For example, and

Script now uses the new image with 18x tag based on a newer version of Windows Server Core.