Custom resources - AWS CloudFormation

Custom resources


The CloudFormation registry and custom resources each offer their own benefits. Custom resources offer the following benefits:

  • You don't need to register the resource.

  • You can include an entire resource as part of a template without registering.

  • Supports the Create, Update, and Delete operations

Advantages that registry based resources offer include the following:

  • 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, see Using the AWS CloudFormation registry.

Custom resources provide a way for you to write custom provisioning logic into your CloudFormation templates and have CloudFormation run it anytime you create, update (if you changed the custom resource), or delete a stack. This can be useful when your provisioning requirements involve complex logic or workflows that can't be expressed with CloudFormation's built-in resource types.

For example, you might want to include resources that aren't available as 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.

To define a custom resource in your CloudFormation template, you use the AWS::CloudFormation::CustomResource or Custom::MyCustomResourceTypeName resource type. Custom resources require one property, the service token, which specifies where CloudFormation sends requests to, such as an Amazon SNS topic or a Lambda function.

The following topics provide information on how to use custom resources.


If you use the VPC endpoint feature, custom resources in the VPC must have access to 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, CloudFormation won't receive a response and the stack operation fails. For more information, see Access CloudFormation using an interface endpoint (AWS PrivateLink).

How custom resources work

The general process for setting up a new custom resource includes the following steps. These steps involve two roles: the custom resource provider who owns the custom resource and the template developer who creates a template that includes a custom resource type. This can be the same person, but if not, the custom resource provider should work with the template developer.

  1. The custom resource provider writes logic that determines how to handle requests from CloudFormation and perform actions on the custom resource.

  2. The custom resource provider creates the Amazon SNS topic or Lambda function where CloudFormation can send requests to. The Amazon SNS topic or Lambda function must be in the same Region where the stack will be created.

  3. The custom resource provider gives the Amazon SNS topic ARN or Lambda function ARN to the template developer.

  4. The template developer defines the custom resource in their CloudFormation template. This includes a service token and any input data parameters. The service token and the structure of the input data are defined by the custom resource provider. The service token specifies the Amazon SNS topic ARN or Lambda function ARN and is always required, but the input data is optional depending on the custom resource.

Now, whenever anyone uses the template to create, update, or delete the custom resource, CloudFormation sends a request to the specified service token, and then waits for a response before proceeding with the stack operation.

The following summarizes the flow for creating a stack from the template:

  1. CloudFormation sends a request to the specified service token. The request 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 CloudFormation includes in a Create request. In this example, ResourceProperties allows CloudFormation to create a custom payload to send to the Lambda function.

    { "RequestType" : "Create", "ResponseURL" : "http://pre-signed-S3-url-for-response", "StackId" : "arn:aws:cloudformation:us-west-2:123456789012:stack/mystack/5b918d10-cd98-11ea-90d5-0a9cd3354c10", "RequestId" : "unique id for this create request", "ResourceType" : "Custom::TestResource", "LogicalResourceId" : "MyTestResource", "ResourceProperties" : { "Name" : "Value", "List" : [ "1", "2", "3" ] } }
  2. The custom resource provider processes the 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. 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/mystack/5b918d10-cd98-11ea-90d5-0a9cd3354c10", "RequestId" : "unique id for this create request", "LogicalResourceId" : "MyTestResource", "Data" : { "OutputName1" : "Value1", "OutputName2" : "Value2", } }
  3. After getting a SUCCESS response, 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.

Response timeout

The default timeout for your custom resource is 3600 seconds (1 hour). If no response is received during this time, the stack operation fails.

You can adjust the timeout value based on how long you expect the response from the custom resource will take. For example, when provisioning a custom resource that invokes a Lambda function that's expected to respond within five minutes, you can set a timeout of five minutes in the stack template by specifying the ServiceTimeout property. For more information, see Custom resource request objects. This way, if there's an error in the Lambda function that causes it to get stuck, CloudFormation will fail the stack operation after five minutes instead of waiting the full hour.

However, be careful not to set the timeout value too low. To avoid unexpected timeouts, make sure that your custom resource has enough time to perform the necessary actions and return a response.