AWS Cloud Operations & Migrations Blog

Manage your AWS CloudFormation templates and stacks using AWS Systems Manager

With AWS CloudFormation, you get a powerful way to automate and manage infrastructure as code. Until now, customers relied on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) or a version-control system to store, share, and manage CloudFormation templates as code artifacts. In addition, many customers use AWS Service Catalog for advanced use cases related to governance of a catalog for easily deployable products based on CloudFormation templates. Today, we announce the release of the Template Library in Application Manager, a capability of AWS Systems Manager. The Template Library provides an easy way to author, store, version, validate, share, and provision CloudFormation templates through the console. You can use this feature to manage the templates for your applications or application components in the Systems Manager console. It’s available to all AWS customers without any additional setup or onboarding requirement.

An application represents a logical group of AWS resources that you want to view or manage as a single unit. Each of these groups of resources generally represents an application or component of an application. In this blog post, we will share a functional example of an Application Manager application that uses CloudFormation: the deployment of the popular Jenkins build server. Many development teams use Jenkins as their primary build and deployment team of choice, and, often, many entities in a single company have their own Jenkins deployments. A company can streamline and unify their process by authoring a single CloudFormation template that configures Jenkins in accordance with best practices. This template can easily be stored in the Template Library and used to provision and update Jenkins deployments across the organization.

Template Library primer

The focus of this post is creating and managing CloudFormation templates using the console. we will start by using the Template Library to author a CloudFormation template that creates the resources required for a Jenkins deployment. Each template in the Template Library is a Systems Manager document. You can use the console, AWS CLI, or SDK to manage the template.

The Application Manager page includes Overview, Applications, and Container clusters tabs and Template Library and Create stack buttons. Under CloudFormation stacks, a stack named SampleStack is displayed with a status of CREATE_COMPLETE.

Figure 1: Template Library

The Template library page displays Owned by Amazon, Owned by me, Shared with me, and All documents tabs. If you choose Owned by Amazon, you see  templates that have published by AWS as AWS Quick Starts and AWS Solutions.

The Owned by Amazon tab is selected. In the list of templates, AWSSolutions-AWSPerspective is selected.

Figure 2: Owned by Amazon tab

Create your first template

Choose the Owned by me tab, and then choose Create template.

On the Template library page, the Owned by me tab is selected. There is one template displayed. The SampleTemplate is selected.

Figure 3: Create template

On Create template, enter a name (for example, JenkinsTemplate) and optional version name (for example, Testversion) for the template. In Code editor, choose YAML or JSON, and then enter the template content.

The Details section of Create template is completed as described in the post. In Code editor, under Code method, YAML is selected and the content of the CloudFormation template for Jenkins deployment is displayed.

Figure 4: Template details

Provision a CloudFormation stack from your template

After you’ve created the CloudFormation template for Jenkins deployment, from Actions, choose Provision stack to provision a Jenkins installation.

On the Template library page, the Owned by me tab is selected and Provision stack is highlighted in the Actions list. The JenkinsTemplate is selected.

Figure 5: Provision stack

On Edit stack details, choose Create new stack for Stack name, enter JenkinsStack-DevTeam-A. In Parameters, complete the fields as shown, and then choose Next.

Under Parameters, for Vpcid, vpc- is entered. For PublicSubnet1, subnet- is entered. For PublicSubnet2, subnet- is entered. For KeyName, jenkins-ssh is entered.

Figure 6: Edit stack details

On Review and provision, choose Provision stack.

Review and provision page displays the stack name (JenkinsStack-DevTeam-A) and parameters entered on Edit stack details.

Figure 7: Review and provision

On the details page for the template, choose the Provisioning tab. Under Provision events, you’ll see status and other details.

The JenkinsStack-DevTeam-A details include application type (AWS-CloudFormation), name, status (CREATE_IN_PROGRESS), and drift status (NOT_CHECKED). Under Provision events, all displayed events have a status of CREATE_IN_PROGRESS.

Figure 8: JenkinsStack-DevTeam-A

Now that your Jenkins deployment is completed, you can use the Application Manager dashboard to view operations data about your deployment (for example, deployment status, Amazon CloudWatch alarms, resource configurations, and operational issues) in the context of your Jenkins application and perform remedial actions, if required.

The Overview tab of the JenkinsStack-DevTeam-A details page displays Alarms, Runbooks, and OpsItems sections.

Figure 9: Application Manager dashboard

Manage versions and additional deployments for your template

At this point, you have one version of Jenkins template (the default version) and one deployed stack that uses that template. If you want to deploy the same template into multiple CloudFormation stacks, you can go through these steps again and choose the same template. If you need to add more resources to the Jenkins deployment, extend the template and create a new version with the required resources.

On the Template library page, choose Owned by me, and then choose the Jenkins template. From Actions, choose Edit.

On the Template library page, on the Owned by me tab, JenkinsTemplate is selected. Under Actions, Edit is highlighted.

Figure 10: Owned by me tab

Add any required resources to the template, and then choose Save. Clear the Set as default checkbox. You should test the updated stack before you make it the default for creating subsequent stacks.

In Code editor, the Jenkins CloudFormation template is displayed. The Set as default checkbox is cleared.

Figure 11: Version 2 of JenkinsTemplate

To compare template versions side by side, choose Compare versions.

In the Template code section, the TestVersion (default) and JenkinsEC2resource versions of the template are displayed side by side.

Figure 12: Compare versions

At this point, you can use the updated template to provision another stack. After you confirm that the updated template is working as expected, you can set the current version as the default. When you view the template, you can also see stacks that are deployed using different versions of the template.

On the JenkinsTemplate page, in CloudFormation stacks, there are two template versions displayed: JenkinsStack-DevTeam-A and JenkinsDeployment-DevTeam-A

Figure 13: JenkinsTemplate


With today’s launch of the Template Library, you can now manage CloudFormation stack-based applications from Application Manager without onboarding or navigating through different consoles. This simplifies the application management process and makes it easier for IT teams to focus on their core competency.

About the authors

Kapil Shardha

Kapil Shardha

Kapil Shardha is a Principal Solutions Architect at AWS and supports enterprise customers with their AWS adoption. He has background in infrastructure automation and DevOps.


Jan Thomas

Jan Thomas

Jan Thomas is a Technical Product Manager at AWS and based out of Berlin, Germany. He is working on AWS Systems Manager and AWS OpsWorks to improve the management and operational experience for AWS customers.