Ingesting AWS CloudWatch Logs via AWS Kinesis Firehose

Use CloudWatch Log subscriptions and Kinesis Firehose to robustly collect and route your CloudWatch logs.
type: guidedomain: sourcessource: aws_kinesis_firehosedomain: transformstransform: aws_cloudwatch_logs_subscription_parser

If you use AWS CloudWatch Logs on Amazon Web Services (AWS), you may be wondering how to ingest these logs with Vector so you can transform and send them to your service of choice. This guide will walk you through a production-ready setup using AWS Kinesis Firehose to forward AWS CloudWatch Logs to one or more running Vector instances over HTTPS.

You will learn how to:

  • Configure Vector to consume AWS CloudWatch Log events via the [aws_kinesis_firehose][aws_kinesis_firehose]] source and [aws_cloudwatch_logs_subscription_parser][aws_cloudwatch_logs_subscription_parser] transform
  • Configure AWS Kinesis Firehose to forward events to a remotely running Vector instance (or instances)

Once completed, you'll have a setup that will receive events written to CloudWatch Logs and writes them to standard out, but the configuration can be adapted to send them to any other destination of your choice.

The goal of this guide is to serve as a reference that you can customize for your specific needs.

When you are done, you will end up with a setup that looks like:

Motivation

Why use AWS CloudWatch Logs subscriptions and AWS Kinesis Firehose to forward logs to Vector? This pipeline:

  • Is tolerant of downtime
    • Firehose will retry requests for a configurable period
    • Firehose will dead-letter events that cannot be sent to S3
  • Allows you to load balance the log ingestion
    • You can put multiple vector instances behind a load balancer
  • Allows to ingest logs from multiple log groups
    • You can use one Firehose delivery stream as the destination for multiple CloudWatch Logs subscription filters

Setup

Let's set some environment variables to make the below scripts more easily used without edits.

# Update these
export AWS_ACCOUNT_ID="111111111111" # your AWS account ID
export AWS_REGION="us-east-1" # region that resources exist in
export FIREHOSE_ACCESS_KEY="my secret key" # set to a secret value
export VECTOR_ENDPOINT="https://example.com" # the endpoint where vector is deployed with the aws_kinesis_firehose source (see Configuring Vector below)
# Update these if needed
export LOG_GROUP="/test/vector" # the log group you want to consume with vector
export FIREHOSE_DELIVERY_STREAM="vector-stream"
export FIREHOSE_LOG_GROUP="/aws/kinesisfirehose/vector-stream" # log group for Kinesis Firehose to log messages to
export FIREHOSE_LOG_STREAM="HttpEndpointDelivery" # log stream in DEBUG_LOG_GROUP for Kinesis Firehose to log messages to
export FIREHOSE_S3_BUCKET="firehose-${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}" # a bucket to write events that failed to be forwarded to

Configuring Vector

Let's take a look at the configuration we will be using:

vector.toml
[sources.firehose]
type = "aws_kinesis_firehose"
address = "0.0.0.0:8080" # the public URL will be set when configuring Firehose
access_key = "${FIREHOSE_ACCESS_KEY}"my secret key" # this will also be set when configuring Firehose
[transforms.cloudwatch]
type = "aws_cloudwatch_logs_subscription_parser"
inputs = ["firehose"]
[transforms.json]
type = "json_parser"
inputs = ["cloudwatch"]
# you may want to add more transforms here
[sinks.console]
type = "console"
inputs = ["json"]
encoding.codec = "json"

This will configure vector to listen for Firehose messages on the configured port. These messages will then be transformed, via the [aws_cloudwatch_logs_subscription_parser][aws_cloudwatch_logs_subscription_parser] to extract the individual log events, and then the json_parser to parse these events. Finally, they are written to the console.

Parts of the rest of this guide are based on AWS's Subscription Filters with Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose guide. See their guide for more examples.

Deploying Vector

First, deploy vector with the [aws_kinesis_firehose][aws_kinesis_firehose] source. See example configuration above.

Creating a log groups

Let's create a new log group to use to ingest logs from. If the log group already exists, you can skip this step.

$ aws logs create-log-group --log-group-name ${LOG_GROUP}

Additionally, we'll create a log group for Firehose to log to for debugging purposes (see Monitoring Kinesis Data Firehose Using CloudWatch Logs for more details).

$ aws logs create-log-group --log-group-name ${FIREHOSE_LOG_GROUP}
$ aws logs create-log-stream \
--log-group-name ${FIREHOSE_LOG_GROUP} \
--log-stream-name ${FIREHOSE_LOG_STREAM}

Creating Kinesis Delivery Stream

Let's create the delivery stream to send CloudWatch Log event subscription to. This will require several steps before we can create the stream itself.

Create S3 bucket for events

The HTTP endpoint destination for Firehose requires you to have an S3 bucket that it can write failed events too (after it retries them, see below for retry configuration). Optionally, you can have it copy all events there rather than only failed ones.

$ aws s3api create-bucket --bucket ${FIREHOSE_S3_BUCKET} \
$(if [[ ${AWS_REGION} != "us-east-1" ]] ; then echo "--create-bucket-configuration LocationConstraint=${AWS_REGION}" ; fi)

Create IAM role for delivery stream

We'll need to create an IAM role that will allow the delivery stream to write to the bucket we just created.

$ aws iam create-role \
--role-name FirehoseVector \
--assume-role-policy-document file://<( cat <<EOF
{
"Statement": {
"Effect": "Allow",
"Principal": {
"Service": "firehose.amazonaws.com"
},
"Action": "sts:AssumeRole",
"Condition": {
"StringEquals": {
"sts:ExternalId": "${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}"
}
}
}
}
EOF
)

Then we'll attach a policy allowing it to write to our bucket and debugging log group.

$ aws iam put-role-policy --role-name FirehoseVector \
--policy-name FirehoseVectorS3 \
--policy-document file://<(cat <<EOF
{
"Statement": [
{
"Effect": "Allow",
"Action": [
"s3:AbortMultipartUpload",
"s3:GetBucketLocation",
"s3:GetObject",
"s3:ListBucket",
"s3:ListBucketMultipartUploads",
"s3:PutObject"
],
"Resource": [
"arn:aws:s3:::${FIREHOSE_S3_BUCKET}",
"arn:aws:s3:::${FIREHOSE_S3_BUCKET}/*"
]
},
{
"Effect": "Allow",
"Action": [
"logs:PutLogEvents"
],
"Resource": [
"arn:aws:logs:${AWS_REGION}:${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}:log-group:${FIREHOSE_LOG_GROUP}:*"
]
}
]
}
EOF
)

Create stream

With the the S3 bucket and IAM role in place, we can create our delivery stream.

$ aws firehose create-delivery-stream --delivery-stream-name ${FIREHOSE_DELIVERY_STREAM} \
--http-endpoint-destination file://<(cat <<EOF
{
"EndpointConfiguration": {
"Url": "${VECTOR_ENDPOINT}",
"Name": "vector",
"AccessKey": "${FIREHOSE_ACCESS_KEY}"
},
"RequestConfiguration": {
"ContentEncoding": "GZIP"
},
"CloudWatchLoggingOptions": {
"Enabled": true,
"LogGroupName": "${FIREHOSE_LOG_GROUP}",
"LogStreamName": "${FIREHOSE_LOG_STREAM}"
},
"RoleARN": "arn:aws:iam::${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}:role/FirehoseVector",
"RetryOptions": {
"DurationInSeconds": 300
},
"S3BackupMode": "FailedDataOnly",
"S3Configuration": {
"RoleARN": "arn:aws:iam::${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}:role/FirehoseVector",
"BucketARN": "arn:aws:s3:::${FIREHOSE_S3_BUCKET}"
}
}
EOF
)

This will configure Firehose to ship all events to $VECTOR_ENDPOINT using the provided access key. Any events that fail to be successfully processed after 300 seconds will be written to the S3 bucket for further processing.

See [aws firehose create-delivery-stream](https://docs.aws.amazon.com/cli/latest/reference/firehose/create-delivery-stream.html) for more configuration options.

Setup CloudWatch Logs subscription

We've got our delivery stream setup and pointing at our Vector instance(s). Let us configure CloudWatch Logs subscription to forward events.

Create IAM role for subscription

First we have to setup an IAM role and policy for CloudWatch Logs to write to our Firehose delivery stream.

Let's create the IAM role.

$ aws iam create-role \
--role-name CWLtoKinesisFirehoseRole \
--assume-role-policy-document file://<(cat <<EOF
{
"Statement": {
"Effect": "Allow",
"Principal": { "Service": "logs.${AWS_REGION}.amazonaws.com" },
"Action": "sts:AssumeRole"
}
}
EOF
)
`

Now we will attach a policy to our role to let it publish to the Firehose stream.

$ aws iam put-role-policy --role-name CWLtoKinesisFirehoseRole \
--policy-name Permissions-Policy-For-CWL \
--policy-document file://<( cat <<EOF
{
"Statement":[
{
"Effect":"Allow",
"Action":["firehose:*"],
"Resource":["arn:aws:firehose:${AWS_REGION}:${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}:deliverystream/${FIREHOSE_DELIVERY_STREAM}"]
}
]
}
EOF
)

Create subscription

Now we can create the subscription.

$ aws logs put-subscription-filter \
--log-group-name ${LOG_GROUP} \
--filter-name "Destination" \
--filter-pattern "" \
--destination-arn "arn:aws:firehose:${AWS_REGION}:${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}:deliverystream/${FIREHOSE_DELIVERY_STREAM}" \
--role-arn "arn:aws:iam::${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}:role/CWLtoKinesisFirehoseRole

Testing it out

To make sure everything is wired up correctly, let's send some logs to the log group we've setup. We can use Vector for this too!

[sources.stdin]
type = "stdin"
[sinks.cloudwatch]
type = "aws_cloudwatch_logs"
inputs = ["stdin"]
group_name = "${LOG_GROUP}"
stream_name = "test"
region = "us-east-1"
encoding.codec = "json"

This will read lines from stdin and write them to CloudWatch Logs. See the AWS Authentication section for this sink to see how to configure the AWS credentials Vector will need to write to AWS.

Alternatively, you can publish events directly to a CloudWatch Log group through the AWS console. First create a log stream within the group, click into it, and you should see an option under Actions to "Create a log event"

Let's send some logs. For this, I'm using [flog](https://github.com/mingrammer/flog), a useful tool for generating fake log data.

$ flog -f json | vector --config config.toml

This will send some logs to your log group. Within 300 seconds (the default batch interval) these logs should be forwarded to your running vector instance(s).

Wrap Up

Congratulations, now you are ingesting logs from AWS CloudWatch Logs in a robust manner. You can now use Vector to transform and forward these logs to your destinations of choice.

Any troubles getting this to work? Let us know via Github issues or drop into the #aws channel on our discord server.

Still want more? Read on for a deep dive into this pipeline.

Deep dive

For the curious, let's take a look at what the events look like as they pass through this pipeline. This can be useful if you'd like to inject different transforms at various points.

Let's imagine that we publish the following two events to the CloudWatch Log group, /test/vector that we had setup:

{
"bytes": 26780,
"datetime": "14/Sep/2020:11:45:41 -0400",
"host": "157.130.216.193",
"method": "PUT",
"protocol": "HTTP/1.0",
"referer": "https://www.principalcross-platform.io/markets/ubiquitous",
"request": "/expedite/convergence",
"source_type": "stdin",
"status": 301,
"user-identifier": "-"
}
{
"bytes": 17707,
"datetime": "14/Sep/2020:11:45:41 -0400",
"host": "109.81.244.252",
"method": "GET",
"protocol": "HTTP/2.0",
"referer": "http://www.investormission-critical.io/24/7/vortals",
"request": "/scale/functionalities/optimize",
"source_type": "stdin",
"status": 502,
"user-identifier": "feeney1708"
}

These events will be forwarded via the CloudWatch Logs subscription we setup to Kinesis Firehose. Kinesis Firehose will then encode the subscription event and send it as an HTTP request:

{
"requestId": "ed1d787c-b9e2-4631-92dc-8e7c9d26d804",
"timestamp": 1600110760138,
"records": [
{
"data": "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"
}
]
}

The [aws_kinesis_firehose][aws_kinesis_firehose] source:

[sources.firehose]
type = "aws_kinesis_firehose"
address = "0.0.0.0:8080" # the public URL will be set in the Firehose config
access_key = "my secret key" # this will also be set in the Firehose config

will accept this request, decode the record (which is gzip'd and then base64 encoded), to produce an event that looks like:

{
"message": "{\n \"messageType\": \"DATA_MESSAGE\",\n \"owner\": \"111111111111\",\n \"logGroup\": \"/test\",\n \"logStream\": \"test\",\n \"subscriptionFilters\": [\n \"Destination\"\n ],\n \"logEvents\": [\n {\n \"id\": \"35683658089614582423604394983260738922885519999578275840\",\n \"timestamp\": 1600110569039,\n \"message\": \"{\\\"bytes\\\":26780,\\\"datetime\\\":\\\"14/Sep/2020:11:45:41 -0400\\\",\\\"host\\\":\\\"157.130.216.193\\\",\\\"method\\\":\\\"PUT\\\",\\\"protocol\\\":\\\"HTTP/1.0\\\",\\\"referer\\\":\\\"https://www.principalcross-platform.io/markets/ubiquitous\\\",\\\"request\\\":\\\"/expedite/convergence\\\",\\\"source_type\\\":\\\"stdin\\\",\\\"status\\\":301,\\\"user-identifier\\\":\\\"-\\\"}\"\n },\n {\n \"id\": \"35683658089659183914001456229543810359430816722590236673\",\n \"timestamp\": 1600110569041,\n \"message\": \"{\\\"bytes\\\":17707,\\\"datetime\\\":\\\"14/Sep/2020:11:45:41 -0400\\\",\\\"host\\\":\\\"109.81.244.252\\\",\\\"method\\\":\\\"GET\\\",\\\"protocol\\\":\\\"HTTP/2.0\\\",\\\"referer\\\":\\\"http://www.investormission-critical.io/24/7/vortals\\\",\\\"request\\\":\\\"/scale/functionalities/optimize\\\",\\\"source_type\\\":\\\"stdin\\\",\\\"status\\\":502,\\\"user-identifier\\\":\\\"feeney1708\\\"}\"\n }\n ]\n}\n",
"request_id": "ed1d787c-b9e2-4631-92dc-8e7c9d26d804",
"source_arn": "arn:aws:firehose:us-east-1:111111111111:deliverystream/test",
"timestamp": "2020-09-14T19:12:40.138Z"
}

Here we can see the some context fields have been extracted from the Firehose source including the request_id, source_arn (passed as an HTTP header by Firehose) and timestamp (parsed from the timestamp field of the request body). The message field is the decoded record data. In our case, this is an AWS CloudWatch Logs Subscription event.

If we formatted it, it would look like:

{
"messageType": "DATA_MESSAGE",
"owner": "111111111111",
"logGroup": "/test/vector",
"logStream": "test",
"subscriptionFilters": [
"Destination"
],
"logEvents": [
{
"id": "35683658089614582423604394983260738922885519999578275840",
"timestamp": 1600110569039,
"message": "{\"bytes\":26780,\"datetime\":\"14/Sep/2020:11:45:41 -0400\",\"host\":\"157.130.216.193\",\"method\":\"PUT\",\"protocol\":\"HTTP/1.0\",\"referer\":\"https://www.principalcross-platform.io/markets/ubiquitous\",\"request\":\"/expedite/convergence\",\"source_type\":\"stdin\",\"status\":301,\"user-identifier\":\"-\"}"
},
{
"id": "35683658089659183914001456229543810359430816722590236673",
"timestamp": 1600110569041,
"message": "{\"bytes\":17707,\"datetime\":\"14/Sep/2020:11:45:41 -0400\",\"host\":\"109.81.244.252\",\"method\":\"GET\",\"protocol\":\"HTTP/2.0\",\"referer\":\"http://www.investormission-critical.io/24/7/vortals\",\"request\":\"/scale/functionalities/optimize\",\"source_type\":\"stdin\",\"status\":502,\"user-identifier\":\"feeney1708\"}"
}
]
}

To extract the originating events from this subscription event, we can use the [aws_cloudwatch_logs_subscription_parser][aws_cloudwatch_logs_subscription_parser] transform:

[transforms.cloudwatch]
type = "aws_cloudwatch_logs_subscription_parser"
inputs = ["firehose"]

This will take the above event and output two new events:

{
"id": "35683658089614582423604394983260738922885519999578275840",
"log_group": "/test/vector",
"log_stream": "test",
"message": "{\"bytes\":26780,\"datetime\":\"14/Sep/2020:11:45:41 -0400\",\"host\":\"157.130.216.193\",\"method\":\"PUT\",\"protocol\":\"HTTP/1.0\",\"referer\":\"https://www.principalcross-platform.io/markets/ubiquitous\",\"request\":\"/expedite/convergence\",\"source_type\":\"stdin\",\"status\":301,\"user-identifier\":\"-\"}",
"owner": "071959437513",
"request_id": "ed1d787c-b9e2-4631-92dc-8e7c9d26d804",
"source_arn": "arn:aws:firehose:us-east-1:111111111111:deliverystream/test",
"subscription_filters": [
"Destination"
],
"timestamp": "2020-09-14T19:09:29.039Z"
}
{
"id": "35683658089659183914001456229543810359430816722590236673",
"log_group": "/test/vector",
"log_stream": "test",
"message": "{\"bytes\":17707,\"datetime\":\"14/Sep/2020:11:45:41 -0400\",\"host\":\"109.81.244.252\",\"method\":\"GET\",\"protocol\":\"HTTP/2.0\",\"referer\":\"http://www.investormission-critical.io/24/7/vortals\",\"request\":\"/scale/functionalities/optimize\",\"source_type\":\"stdin\",\"status\":502,\"user-identifier\":\"feeney1708\"}",
"owner": "071959437513",
"request_id": "ed1d787c-b9e2-4631-92dc-8e7c9d26d804",
"source_arn": "arn:aws:firehose:us-east-1:111111111111:deliverystream/test",
"subscription_filters": [
"Destination"
],
"timestamp": "2020-09-14T19:09:29.041Z"
}

Here we can see the individual events are extracted along with some additional context:

  • id: the ID of the log event
  • log_group the log_group of the log event
  • log_stream the log_stream of the log event
  • owner the AWS account ID of the owner of the log event
  • subcription_filters the filters that matched to send the event
  • timestamp is overwritten with the timestamp from the log event

This is pretty good, but, our original events are also JSON, so let's parse those out using the [json_parser][json_parser] transform:

[transforms.json]
type = "json_parser"
inputs = ["cloudwatch"]

This will give us the final result of:

{
"bytes": 26780,
"datetime": "14/Sep/2020:11:45:41 -0400",
"host": "157.130.216.193",
"id": "35683658089614582423604394983260738922885519999578275840",
"log_group": "/jesse/test",
"log_stream": "test",
"method": "PUT",
"owner": "071959437513",
"protocol": "HTTP/1.0",
"referer": "https://www.principalcross-platform.io/markets/ubiquitous",
"request": "/expedite/convergence",
"request_id": "ed1d787c-b9e2-4631-92dc-8e7c9d26d804",
"source_arn": "arn:aws:firehose:us-east-1:071959437513:deliverystream/jesse-test",
"source_type": "stdin",
"status": 301,
"subscription_filters": [
"Destination"
],
"timestamp": "2020-09-14T19:09:29.039Z",
"user-identifier": "-"
}
{
"bytes": 17707,
"datetime": "14/Sep/2020:11:45:41 -0400",
"host": "109.81.244.252",
"id": "35683658089659183914001456229543810359430816722590236673",
"log_group": "/jesse/test",
"log_stream": "test",
"method": "GET",
"owner": "071959437513",
"protocol": "HTTP/2.0",
"referer": "http://www.investormission-critical.io/24/7/vortals",
"request": "/scale/functionalities/optimize",
"request_id": "ed1d787c-b9e2-4631-92dc-8e7c9d26d804",
"source_arn": "arn:aws:firehose:us-east-1:071959437513:deliverystream/jesse-test",
"source_type": "stdin",
"status": 502,
"subscription_filters": [
"Destination"
],
"timestamp": "2020-09-14T19:09:29.041Z",
"user-identifier": "feeney1708"
}

Here are original events with all of the additional context!