Custom resources - AWS CloudFormation

Custom resources


The CloudFormation registry offers several advantages over custom resources, such advantages include:

  • Supports the modeling, provisioning, and managing of third-party application resources

  • Supports the Create, Read, Update, Delete, and List (CRUDL) operations

  • Supports drift detection on private and third-party resource types

Unlike custom resources, registry based resources won't need to associate an Amazon SNS topic or a Lambda function to perform CRUDL operations. For more information about the CloudFormation registry, see Using the AWS CloudFormation registry.

Custom resources enable you to write custom provisioning logic in templates that AWS CloudFormation runs anytime you create, update (if you changed the custom resource), or delete stacks. For example, you might want to include resources that aren't available as AWS CloudFormation resource types. You can include those resources by using custom resources. That way you can still manage all your related resources in a single stack.

Use the AWS::CloudFormation::CustomResource or Custom::MyCustomResourceTypeName resource type to define custom resources in your templates. Custom resources require one property: the service token, which specifies where AWS CloudFormation sends requests to, such as an Amazon SNS topic.


If you use the VPC endpoint feature, custom resources in the VPC must have access to AWS CloudFormation-specific S3 buckets. Custom resources must send responses to a pre-signed Amazon S3 URL. If they can't send responses to Amazon S3, AWS CloudFormation won't receive a response and the stack operation fails. For more information, see Setting up VPC endpoints for AWS CloudFormation.

How custom resources work

Any action taken for a custom resource involves three parties.

template developer

Creates a template that includes a custom resource type. The template developer specifies the service token and any input data in the template.

custom resource provider

Owns the custom resource and determines how to handle and respond to requests from AWS CloudFormation. The custom resource provider must provide a service token that the template developer uses.

AWS CloudFormation

During a stack operation, sends a request to a service token that is specified in the template, and then waits for a response before proceeding with the stack operation.

The template developer and custom resource provider can be the same person or entity, but the process is the same. The following steps describe the general process:

  1. The template developer defines a custom resource in their template, which includes a service token and any input data parameters. Depending on the custom resource, the input data might be required; however, the service token is always required.

    The service token specifies where AWS CloudFormation sends requests to, such as an Amazon SNS topic ARN or an AWS Lambda function ARN. For more information, see AWS::CloudFormation::CustomResource. The service token and the structure of the input data is defined by the custom resource provider.

  2. Whenever anyone uses the template to create, update, or delete a custom resource, AWS CloudFormation sends a request to the specified service token. The service token must be in the same region in which you are creating the stack.

    In the request, AWS CloudFormation includes information such as the request type and a pre-signed Amazon Simple Storage Service URL, where the custom resource sends responses to. For more information about what's included in the request, see Custom resource request objects.

    The following sample data shows what AWS CloudFormation includes in a request:

    { "RequestType" : "Create", "ResponseURL" : "http://pre-signed-S3-url-for-response", "StackId" : "arn:aws:cloudformation:us-west-2:123456789012:stack/stack-name/guid", "RequestId" : "unique id for this create request", "ResourceType" : "Custom::TestResource", "LogicalResourceId" : "MyTestResource", "ResourceProperties" : { "Name" : "Value", "List" : [ "1", "2", "3" ] } }

    In this example, ResourceProperties allows AWS CloudFormation to create a custom payload to send to the Lambda function.

  3. The custom resource provider processes the AWS CloudFormation request and returns a response of SUCCESS or FAILED to the pre-signed URL. The custom resource provider provides the response in a JSON-formatted file and uploads it to the pre-signed S3 URL. For more information, see Uploading objects using pre-signed URLs in the Amazon Simple Storage Service User Guide.

    In the response, the custom resource provider can also include name-value pairs that the template developer can access. For example, the response can include output data if the request succeeded or an error message if the request failed. For more information about responses, see Custom resource response objects.


    If the name-value pairs contain sensitive information, you should use the NoEcho field to mask the output of the custom resource. Otherwise, the values are visible through APIs that surface property values (such as DescribeStackEvents).

    For more information about using NoEcho to mask sensitive information, see the Do not embed credentials in your templates best practice.

    The custom resource provider is responsible for listening and responding to the request. For example, for Amazon SNS notifications, the custom resource provider must listen and respond to notifications that are sent to a specific topic ARN. AWS CloudFormation waits and listens for a response in the pre-signed URL location.

    The following sample data shows what a custom resource might include in a response:

    { "Status" : "SUCCESS", "PhysicalResourceId" : "TestResource1", "StackId" : "arn:aws:cloudformation:us-west-2:123456789012:stack/stack-name/guid", "RequestId" : "unique id for this create request", "LogicalResourceId" : "MyTestResource", "Data" : { "OutputName1" : "Value1", "OutputName2" : "Value2", } }
  4. After getting a SUCCESS response, AWS CloudFormation proceeds with the stack operation. If a FAILED response or no response is returned, the operation fails. Any output data from the custom resource is stored in the pre-signed URL location. The template developer can retrieve that data by using the Fn::GetAtt function.