Real time alerts with AWS cloud watch log subscription and SES - part1

If you are working with lambda functions / batch processes in your AWS stack, chances are that you may find it difficult to track errors in the log. Lambda / batch invocation may write events in different log stream and at the end of day, you have a lot of stream if you need to scan and see if there was any unexpected event.

Thankfully, you can automate this process with Cloud watch and SES.

For example, if you would like to get a notification every time there is an error logged in logs, you can create a cloud watch log subscription where you provide some keywords which you want to check and a lambda function which cloud watch invokes if it finds those keywords in any of the events. This invoked lambda can send an email to any email address you provide. With this flow in place, you get a real time alert whenever any error is logged.

Lets see some code.  

For aws resources, I'm using cloudformation template. If you want to directly create these resources, please refer to the links at the end of article.

Creating Lambda function

var zlib = require('zlib');
var AWS = require('aws-sdk');
var ses_client = new AWS.SES({ apiVersion: '2010-12-01' });

const To = <email address>
const From = <email address>

exports.handler = function(input, context) {
    var payload = Buffer.from(, 'base64');
    zlib.gunzip(payload, function(e, result) {
        if (e) { 
        } else {
            result = JSON.parse(result.toString('ascii'));
            console.log("Event Data:", JSON.stringify(result, null, 2));
            await send_mail(subject, JSON.stringify(result, null, 2),To,From);

var send_mail = async(subject, message,To,From) => {
    var params = {
        Destination: {
            ToAddresses: [
        Message: {
            Body: {
                Text: {
                    Charset: "UTF-8",
                    Data: message
            Subject: {
                Charset: 'UTF-8',
                Data: subject
        Source: From,

    // Create the promise and SES service object
    var sendPromise = ses_client.sendEmail(params).promise();

    // Handle promise's fulfilled/rejected states
    await sendPromise.then(
        function(data) {
        function(err) {
            console.error(err, err.stack);
    Type: AWS::Lambda::Function
      Description: processes event from cloudwatch log subscription
        S3Bucket: my-bucket
      FunctionName: Log_Subscription_Processor
      Handler: index.handler
      Runtime: nodejs10.x
      MemorySize: 2048
      Timeout: 120
      Role: !GetAtt MyRole.Arn   

Giving cloud watch permission to invoke lambda

    Type: AWS::Lambda::Permission
      Action: lambda:InvokeFunction
      FunctionName: !GetAtt LogSubscriptionProcessor.Arn
      SourceAccount: !Sub ${AWS::AccountId}
      SourceArn: !Sub arn:aws:logs:us-west-2:${AWS::AccountId}:log-group:/aws/lambda/my-lambda:*
cloud formation template for giving permission to cloud watch to invoke lambda function

Creating a subscription filter

    Type: AWS::Logs::SubscriptionFilter
      DestinationArn: !GetAtt LogSubscriptionProcessor.Arn
      FilterPattern: "?error Error"
      LogGroupName: /aws/lambda/my-lambda
    DependsOn: AlertProessPermission   

Policy to send e-mail

    Type: AWS::IAM::ManagedPolicy
        Version: 2012-10-17
          - Effect: Allow
              - ses:SendEmail
            Resource: "*"

This policy you need to assign to the role under which lambda function is running.

This is all you need. In this set up , we have subscribed to cloud watch log group of lambda - my-lambda. So whenever this lambda writes any event which has key word 'error' of 'Error', cloud watch will invoke lambda function Log_Subscription_Processor. This lambda, after reading the event data, sends an email using amazon simple email service and you get the notification.

In next article, we will see how we can use slack to send those notifications.


Using CloudWatch Logs Subscription Filters - Amazon CloudWatch Logs
Associate a subscription filter with a log group containing AWS CloudTrail events.
Filter and Pattern Syntax - Amazon CloudWatch Logs
Match terms in log events using metric filters in CloudWatch Logs.
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