AWS Compute Blog

Securing CI/CD pipelines with AWS SAM Pipelines and OIDC

This post is written by Rahman Syed, Sr. Solutions Architect, State & Local Government and Brian Zambrano, Sr. Specialist Solutions Architect, Serverless.

Developers of serverless applications use the AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM) CLI to generate continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. In October 2022, AWS released OpenID Connect (OIDC) support for AWS SAM Pipelines. This improves your security posture by creating integrations that use short-lived credentials from your CI/CD provider.

OIDC is an authentication layer based on open standards that makes it easier for a client and an identity provider to exchange information. CI/CD tools like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket provide support for OIDC, which ensures that you can integrate with AWS for secure deployments.

This blog post shows how to create a GitHub Actions workflow that securely integrates with AWS using GitHub as an identity provider.

Securing CI/CD systems that interact with AWS

AWS SAM Pipelines is a feature of AWS SAM CLI that generates CI/CD pipeline configurations for six CI/CD systems. These include AWS CodePipeline, Jenkins, GitHub Actions, GitLab CI/CD, and BitBucket. You can get started with these AWS-curated pipeline definitions or create your own to support your organization’s standards.

CI/CD pipelines hosted outside of AWS require credentials to deploy to your AWS environment. One way of integrating is to use an AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) user, which requires that you store the access key and secret access key within your CI/CD provider. Long-term access keys remain valid unless you revoke them, unlike temporary security credentials that are valid for shorter periods of time.

It is a best practice to use temporary, scoped security credentials generated by AWS Security Token Service (AWS STS) to reduce your risk if credentials are exposed. Temporary tokens are generated dynamically as opposed to being stored. Because they expire after minutes or hours, temporary tokens limit the duration of any potential compromise. A token scoped with least privilege limits permissions to a set of resources and prevents wider access within your environment. AWS SAM Pipelines supports short-term credentials with three OIDC providers: GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket.

This post shows how AWS SAM Pipelines can integrate GitHub Actions with your AWS environment using these short-term, scoped credentials powered by the OIDC open standard. It uses a two-stage pipeline, representing a development and production environment.

Architecture overview

This example uses GitHub as the identity provider. When the dev task in the GitHub Actions workflow attempts to assume the dev pipeline execution role in the AWS account, IAM validates that the supplied OIDC token originates from a trusted source. Configuration in IAM allows role assumption from specified GitHub repositories and branches. AWS SAM Pipelines performs the initial heavy lifting of configuring both GitHub Actions and IAM using the principle of least-privileged.


  1. AWS SAM CLI, version 1.60.0 or higher
  2. GitHub account: You must have the required permissions to configure GitHub projects and create pipelines.
  3. Create a new GitHub repository, using the name “sam-app”.

Creating a new serverless application

To create a new serverless application:

  1. Create a new AWS SAM application locally:
    sam init --name sam-app --runtime python3.9 --app-template hello-world --no-tracing
  2. Initialize a git repository:
    cd sam-app
    git init -b main
    git add .
    git commit -m "Creating a new SAM application"
  3. Push the new repository to GitHub:
    git remote add origin <REMOTE_URL> # e.g.
    git push -u origin main

GitHub offers multiple authentication mechanisms. Regardless of how you authenticate, ensure you have the “workflow” scope. GitHub Actions only allow changes to your pipeline when you push with credentials that have this scope attached.

Creating application deployment targets

Once the AWS SAM application is hosted in a GitHub repository, you can create CI/CD resources in AWS that support two deployment stages for the serverless application environment. This is a one-time operation.

Step 1: Creating the pipeline for the first stage.

Run the command for the first stage, answering the interactive questions:

sam pipeline bootstrap --stage dev

When prompted to choose a “user permissions provider”, make sure to select OpenID Connect (OIDC). In the next question, select GitHub Actions as the OIDC provider. These selections result in additional prompts for information that later result in a least privilege integration with GitHub Actions.

The following screenshot shows the interaction with AWS SAM CLI (some values may appear differently for you):

Interaction with AWS SAM CLI

Step 2: Create deployment resources for the second stage.

Run the following command and answer the interactive questions:

sam pipeline bootstrap --stage prod

With these commands, AWS SAM CLI bootstraps the AWS resources that the GitHub Actions workflow later uses to deploy the two stages of the serverless application. This includes Amazon S3 buckets for artifacts and logs, and IAM roles for deployments. AWS SAM CLI also creates the IAM identity provider to establish GitHub Actions as a trusted OIDC provider.

The following screenshot shows these resources from within the AWS CloudFormation console. These resources do not represent a serverless application, but the AWS resources a GitHub Actions workflow must perform deployments. The aws-sam-cli-managed-dev-pipeline-resources stack creates an IAM OIDC identity provider used to establish trust between your AWS account and GitHub.

Stack resources

Generating and deploying a GitHub Actions workflow

The final step to creating a CI/CD pipeline in GitHub Actions is to use a GitHub source repository and two deployment targets in a GitHub Actions workflow.

To generate a pipeline configuration with AWS SAM Pipelines, run the following command and answer interactive questions:

sam pipeline init

The following screenshot shows the interaction with AWS SAM CLI (some values may appear differently for you):

Interaction with AWS SAM CLI

AWS SAM CLI has created a local file named pipeline.yaml which is the GitHub Actions workflow definition. Inspect the pipeline.yaml file to see how the GitHub Actions workflow deploys within your AWS account:

Pipeline.yaml contents

In this example task, GitHub Actions initiates an Action named configure-aws-credentials that uses OIDC as the method for assuming an AWS IAM role for deployment activity. The credentials are valid for 3600 seconds (one hour).

To deploy the GitHub Actions workflow, commit the new file and push to GitHub:

git add .
git commit -m "Creating a CI/CD Pipeline"
git push origin main

Once GitHub receives this commit, the repository creates a new GitHub Actions Workflow, as defined by the new pipeline.yaml configuration file.

Inspecting the GitHub Actions workflow

1. Navigate to the GitHub repository’s Actions view to see the first workflow run in progress.

First workflow run in progress.

2. Choosing the workflow run, you can see details about the deployment.

Details about the deployment

3. Once the deploy-testing step starts, open the CloudFormation console to see the sam-app-dev stack deploying.

Stack deploying

4. The GitHub Actions Pipeline eventually reaches the deploy-prod step, which deploys the production environment of your AWS SAM application. At the end of the Pipeline run, you have two AWS SAM applications in your account deployed by CloudFormation via GitHub Actions. Every change pushed to the GitHub repository now triggers your new multi-stage CI/CD pipeline.

New multi-stage CI/CD pipeline

You have successfully created a CI/CD pipeline for a system located outside of AWS that can deploy to your AWS environment without the use of long-lived credentials.


To clean up your AWS based resources, run following AWS SAM CLI commands, answering “y” to all questions:

sam delete --stack-name sam-app-prod
sam delete --stack-name sam-app-dev
sam delete --stack-name aws-sam-cli-managed-dev-pipeline-resources
sam delete --stack-name aws-sam-cli-managed-prod-pipeline-resources

You may also return to GitHub and delete the repository you created.


AWS SAM Pipeline support for OIDC is a new feature of AWS SAM CLI that simplifies the integration of CI/CD pipelines hosted outside of AWS. Using short-term credentials and scoping AWS actions to specific pipeline tasks reduces risk for your organization. This post shows you how to get started with AWS SAM Pipelines to create a GitHub Actions-based CI/CD pipeline with two deployment stages.

The Complete AWS SAM Workshop provides you with hands-on experience for many AWS SAM features, including CI/CD with GitHub Actions.

Watch guided video tutorials to learn how to create deployment pipelines for GitHub Actions, GitLab CI/CD, and Jenkins.

For more learning resources, visit