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AWS service DNS

AWS service DNS (awssd) is a utility that creates Route53 A records for EC2 instances following a tag convention. This can be used to support reverse proxy / load balancing strategies other then ELB for autoscaling groups or other elastic groups of EC2 instances.


awssd should be run periodically to gather running EC2 instances and group them by the value for a given tag key. It will then proceed to create or update ("upsert") A record sets in a given zone with the public (or private) IP addresses of those instances, using the group-by value of the tag as name.

awssd will never delete records. For security reasons awssd should nevertheless be used in a dedicated hosted zone (e.g. If the service records should be accessible without specifying the name servers in this zone the usual delegation via NS can be setup.

When running awssd you need to specify:

  • the Route53 domain without a trailing . (-d flag) to determine the fully-qualified record set values and finding the hosted zone id
  • the tag key to group instances by (-g flag)

Optionally you can:

  • perform a dry-run (-dry flag) that does not touch record sets
  • pass EC2 filters (-f flag) in key=value notation (or multiple, comma-separated filters in the same notation)
  • prefer private IP addresses over public IP addresses (-p flag): when no public IP addresses are available for an instance, a value of false has no effect (defaults to true)
  • specify the EC2 region (-r flag), defaults to eu-west-1
  • specify the record set TTL in seconds (-t flag), default to 60
  • enforce verbosity (-v flag)

Credential detection follow the aws-sdk standard (checking environment variables, profile configuration and instance profiles).


Let an account contain 6 instances:

  1. i-1, public IP, tags service=foo, environment=staging
  • i-2, public IP, tags service=bar, environment=staging
  • i-3, public IP, tags service=foo, environment=staging
  • i-4, public IP, tags service=bar, environment=staging
  • i-5, public IP, tags service=foo, environment=production
  • i-6, public IP, tags service=bar, environment=production

Calling awssd like this

  • awssd -d -f tag:environment=staging -p=true -g service -v (when running the binary build) or
  • docker run -it kreuzwerker/awssd -d -f tag:environment=staging -p=true -g service -v (when running it via Docker)


  1. group records by the value of the service tag
  • filter instances with the key- / value-pair environment=staging
  • register A records for the public IP addresses of those instances
  • in the Route53 zone
  • be verbose about it

Specifically, this will upsert the following Route 53 records (in the zone with the name        60    IN    A        60    IN    A

and        60    IN    A        60    IN    A

Future roadmap

  • [ ] Support deletion of records as soon as we have metadata / tag support in R53
  • [ ] Support retries / error handling as soon as the aws-sdk supports it
  • [ ] Support pagination as soon as the aws-sdk supports it (WARNING: currently the tools DOES NOT paginate)
  • [ ] Support the creation of individual instance names, maybe with wordlists from sources such as Dynamo + appropriate reverse DNS entries
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