Create a custom connector to a data source - Amazon CloudWatch

Create a custom connector to a data source

To connect a custom data source to CloudWatch, you have two options:

  • Get started by using a sample template that CloudWatch provides. You can use either JavaScript or Python with this template. These templates include sample Lambda code that will be useful to you as you create your Lambda function. You can then modify the Lambda function from the template to connect to your custom data source.

  • Create an AWS Lambda function from scratch that implements the data source connector, the data query, and the preparation of the time series for use by CloudWatch. This function must pre-aggregate or merge datapoints if needed, and also align the period and timestamps to be compatible with CloudWatch.

Use a template

Using a template creates a sample Lambda function, and can help you get your custom connector built faster. These sample functions provide sample code for many common scenarios involved with building a custom connector. You can examine the Lambda code after you create a connector with a template, then modify it to use to connect to your data source.

Additionally, if you use the template, CloudWatch takes care of creating the Lambda permissions policy and attaching resource tags to the Lambda function.

To use the template to create a connector to a custom data source
  1. Open the CloudWatch console at

  2. In the navigation pane, choose Settings.

  3. Choose the Metrics data sources tab.

  4. Choose Create data source.

  5. Choose the radio button for Custom - getting started template and then choose Next.

  6. Enter a name for the data source.

  7. Select the one of the listed templates.

  8. Select either Node.js or Python.

  9. Choose Create data source.

    The new custom source that you just added doesn't appear until the AWS CloudFormation stack finishes creating it. To check progress, you can choose View the status of my CloudFormation stack. Or you can choose the refresh icon to update this list.

    When your new data source appears in this list, it is ready for you to test in the console and modify.

  10. (Optional) To query the test data from this source in the console, follow the instructions in Creating a graph of metrics from another data source.

  11. Modify the Lambda function for your needs.

    1. In the navigation pane, choose Settings.

    2. Choose the Metrics data sources tab.

    3. Choose View in Lambda console for the source that you want to modify.

    You can now modify the function to access your data source. For more information, see Step 1: Create the function.


    By using the template, when you write your Lambda function you don't need to follow the instructions in Step 2: Create a Lambda permissions policy or Step 3: Attach a resource tag to the Lambda function. These steps were performed by CloudWatch because you used the template.

Create a custom data source from scratch

Follow the steps in this section to create a Lambda function that connects CloudWatch to a data source.

Step 1: Create the function

A custom data source connector must support GetMetricData events from CloudWatch. Optionally, you can also implement a DescribeGetMetricData event to provide documentation to users in the CloudWatch console for how to use the connector. The DescribeGetMetricData response can also be used to set defaults that are used in the CloudWatch custom query builder.

CloudWatch provides code snippets as samples to help you get started. For more information, see the samples repository at


  • The response from Lambda must be smaller than 6 Mb. If the response exceeds 6 Mb, the GetMetricData response marks the Lambda function as InternalError and no data is returned.

  • The Lambda function must complete its execution within 10 seconds for visualization and dashboarding purposes, or within 4.5 seconds for alarms usage. If the execution time exceeds that time, the GetMetricData response marks the Lambda function as InternalError and no data is returned.

  • The Lambda function must send its output using epoch timestamps in seconds.

  • If the Lambda function doesn't resample the data and instead returns data that doesn't correspond to the start time and period length that was requested by the CloudWatch user, that data is ignored by CloudWatch. The extra data is discarded from any visualization or alarming. Any data that is not between the start time and end time is also discarded.

    For example, if a user asks for data from 10:00 to 11:00 with a period of 5 min, then "10:00:00 to 10:04:59" and "10:05:00 to 10:09:59" are the valid time ranges for data to be returned. You must return a time series that includes 10:00 value1, 10:05 value2, and so on. If the function returns 10:03 valueX, for example, it gets dropped because 10:03 does not correspond to the requested start time and period.

  • Multi-line queries are not supported by the CloudWatch data source connectors. Every line feed is replaced with a space when the query is executed, or when you create an alarm or a dashboard widget with the query. In some cases, this might make your query not valid.

GetMetricData event

Request payload

The following is an example of a GetMetricData request payload sent as input to the Lambda function.

{ "EventType": "GetMetricData", "GetMetricDataRequest": { "StartTime": 1697060700, "EndTime": 1697061600, "Period": 300, "Arguments": ["serviceregistry_external_http_requests{host_cluster!=\"prod\"}"] } }
  • StartTime– The timestamp specifying the earliest data to return. The Type is timestamp epoch seconds.

  • EndTime– The timestamp specifying the latest data to return. The Type is timestamp epoch seconds.

  • Period– The number of seconds that each aggregation of the metrics data represents. The minimum is 60 seconds. The Type is Seconds.

  • Arguments– An array of arguments to pass to the Lambda metric math expression. For more information about passing arguments, see How to pass arguments to your Lambda function.

Response payload

The following is an example of a GetMetricData response payload returned by the Lambda function.

{ "MetricDataResults": [ { "StatusCode": "Complete", "Label": "CPUUtilization", "Timestamps": [ 1697060700, 1697061000, 1697061300 ], "Values": [ 15000, 14000, 16000 ] } ] }

The response payload will contain either a MetricDataResults field or an Error field, but not both.

A MetricDataResults field is a list of time-series fields of type MetricDataResult. Each of those time-series fields can include the following fields.

  • StatusCode– (Optional) Complete indicates that all data points in the requested time range were returned. PartialData means that an incomplete set of data points were returned. If this is omitted, the default is Complete.

    Valid Values: Complete | InternalError | PartialData | Forbidden

  • Messages– Optional list of messages with additional information about the data returned.

    Type: Array of MessageData objects with Code and Value strings.

  • Label– The human-readable label associated with the data.

    Type: String

  • Timestamps– The timestamps for the data points, formatted in epoch time. The number of timestamps always matches the number of values and the value for Timestamps[x] is Values[x].

    Type: Array of timestamps

  • Values– The data point values for the metric, corresponding to Timestamps. The number of values always matches the number of timestamps and the value for Timestamps[x] is Values[x].

    Type: Array of doubles

For more information about Error objects, see the following sections.

Error response formats

You can optionally use the error response to provide more information about errors. We recommend that you return an error with Code Validation when a validation error occurs, such as when a parameter is missing or is the wrong type.

The following is an example of the response when the Lambda function wants to raise a GetMetricData validation exception.

{ "Error": { "Code": "Validation", "Value": "Invalid Prometheus cluster" } }

The following is an example of the response when the Lambda function indicates that it's unable to return data because of an access issue. The response is translated into a single time series with a status code of Forbidden.

{ "Error": { "Code": "Forbidden", "Value": "Unable to access ..." } }

The following is an example of when the Lambda function raises an overall InternalError exception, which is translated into a single time series with a status code of InternalError and a message. Whenever an error code has a value other than Validation or Forbidden, CloudWatch assumes that it's a generic internal error.

{ "Error": { "Code": "PrometheusClusterUnreachable", "Value": "Unable to communicate with the cluster" } }

DescribeGetMetricData event

Request payload

The following is an example of a DescribeGetMetricData request payload.

{ "EventType": "DescribeGetMetricData" }

Response payload

The following is an example of a DescribeGetMetricData response payload.

{ "Description": "Data source connector", "ArgumentDefaults": [{ Value: "default value" }] }
  • Description– A description of how to use the data source connector. This description will appear in the CloudWatch console. Markdown is supported.

    Type: String

  • ArgumentDefaults– Optional array of argument default values used pre-populate the custom data source builder.

    If [{ Value: "default value 1"}, { Value: 10}], is returned, the query builder in the CloudWatch console displays two inputs, the first with “default value 1” and the second with 10.

    If ArgumentDefaults is not provided, a single input is displayed with type default set to String.

    Type: Array of objects containing Value and Type.

  • Error– (Optional) An error field can be included in any response. You can see examples in GetMetricData event.

Important considerations for CloudWatch alarms

If you are going to use the data source to set CloudWatch alarms, you should set it up to report data with timestamps every minute to CloudWatch. For more information and other considerations for creating alarms on metrics from connected data sources, see Create an alarm based on a connected data source.

(Optional) Use AWS Secrets Manager to store credentials

If your Lambda function needs to use credentials to access the data source, we recommend using AWS Secrets Manager to store these credentials instead of hardcoding them into your Lambda function. For more information about using AWS Secrets Manager with Lambda, see Use AWS Secrets Manager secrets in AWS Lambda functions.

(Optional) Connect to a data source in a VPC

If your data source is in a VPC managed by Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, you must configure your Lambda function to access it. For more information, see Connecting outbound networking to resources in a VPC.

You might also need to configure VPC service endpoints to access services such as AWS Secrets Manager. For more information, see Access an AWS service using an interface VPC endpoint.

Step 2: Create a Lambda permissions policy

You must use create a policy statement that grants CloudWatch permission to use the Lambda function that you created. You can use the AWS CLI or the Lambda console to create the policy statement.

To use the AWS CLI to create the policy statement
  • Enter the following command. Replace 123456789012 with your account ID, replace my-data-source-function with the name of your Lambda function, and replace MyDataSource-DataSourcePermission1234 with an arbitrary unique value.

    aws lambda add-permission --function-name my-data-source-function --statement-id MyDataSource-DataSourcePermission1234 --action lambda:InvokeFunction --principal --source-account 123456789012

Step 3: Attach a resource tag to the Lambda function

The CloudWatch console determines which of your Lambda functions are data source connectors by using a tag. When you create a data source using one of the wizards, the tag is automatically applied by the AWS CloudFormation stack that configures it. When you create a data source yourself, you can use the following tag for your Lambda function. This makes your connector appear in the Data source dropdown in the CloudWatch console when you query metrics.

  • A tag with cloudwatch:datasource as the key and custom as the value.