Getting AWS SNS Events into Honeycomb | Honeycomb

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Getting AWS SNS Events into Honeycomb

Honeycomb provides an agentless integration for ingesting SNS Events. The integration runs as one or more Lambda functions, subscribed to your SNS topics. If you have an existing event pipeline with SNS, you can get better observability in just a few minutes by integrating Honeycomb!

The source is available on Github and instructions for getting started are provided here. Do you have a use case not covered here? Please open an issue.


You will need permission to deploy a Cloudformation stack with an IAM role in your AWS account.


To install, use one of the AWS Cloudformation Quick-Create links below. These links will launch the AWS Cloudformation console with the appropriate template and steer you through the installation process.

Cloudformation Stack Creation

Generic JSON Integration 

This integration accepts event data with arbitrary JSON. Many AWS services generate events that are JSON-structured. If you are sending JSON-based events to your SNS topic, this will work as well. Click Here

You will need to provide the following parameters:

  • Stack Name
  • SNS Topic ARN
  • Your Honeycomb API Key (optionally encrypted)
  • Honeycomb Dataset Name

Optionally, you can supply:

  • Sample rate
  • The ID of the AWS Key Management Service key used to encrypt your API Key. If your API Key is not encrypted, do not set a value here

Encrypting Your API Key 

When installing the integration, you must supply your Honeycomb API Key via Cloudformation parameter. Cloudformation parameters are not encrypted, and are plainly viewable to anyone with access to your Cloudformation stacks or Lambda functions. For this reason, we strongly recommend that your Honeycomb API Key be encrypted. To encrypt your key, use AWS’s KMS service.

First, you will need to create a KMS key if you do not have one already. The default account keys are not suitable for this use case.

$ aws kms create-key --description "used to encrypt secrets"
    "KeyMetadata": {
        "AWSAccountId": "123455678910",
        "KeyId": "a38f80cc-19b5-486a-a163-a4502b7a52cc",
        "Arn": "arn:aws:kms:us-east-1:123455678910:key/a38f80cc-19b5-486a-a163-a4502b7a52cc",
        "CreationDate": 1524160520.097,
        "Enabled": true,
        "Description": "used to encrypt honeycomb secrets",
        "KeyUsage": "ENCRYPT_DECRYPT",
        "KeyState": "Enabled",
        "Origin": "AWS_KMS",
        "KeyManager": "CUSTOMER"
# optionally, create an alias for the KMS key to describe the key's usage: 
$ aws kms create-alias --alias-name alias/secrets_key --target-key-id=a38f80cc-19b5-486a-a163-a4502b7a52cc

Save a file containing only your Honeycomb API Key to be passed into the encryption step. For example, if abc123 is your Honeycomb API Key and my-key is the name of the file, create the file like this:

echo -n abc123 > my-key

Next, encrypt your Honeycomb API Key:

$ aws kms encrypt --key-id=a38f80cc-19b5-486a-a163-a4502b7a52cc --plaintext fileb://my-key
    "CiphertextBlob": "AQICAHge4+BhZ1sURk1UGUjTZxmcegPXyRqG8NCK8/schk381gGToGRb8n3PCjITQPDKjxuJAAAAcjBwBgkqhkiG9w0BBwagYzBhAgEAMFwGCSqGSIb3DQEHATAeBglghkgBZQMEAS4wEQQM0GLK36ChLOlHQiiiAgEQgC9lYlR3qvsQEhgILHhT0eD4atgdB7UAMW6TIAJw9vYsPpnbHhqhO7V8/mEa9Iej+g==",
    "KeyId": "arn:aws:kms:us-east-1:702835727665:key/a38f80cc-19b5-486a-a163-a4502b7a52cc"

Record the CiphertextBlob and the last part of the KeyId from the encryption step. In the example above, the last part of the KeyId is a38f80cc-19b5-486a-a163-a4502b7a52cc. Enter the CiphertextBlob into the Cloudformation template as the HoneycombWriteKey. Enter the KeyId into the Cloudformation template as the KMSKeyId.

For more information about the need to use fileb:// prefix, see the AWS Reference Guide.


Integration Logs 

The SNS integration is just a normal Lambda function, which means you can see its metrics and log messages from the Lambda Console. Look for functions starting with SNSLambdaHandler. From there, you can view error rate, latency, and Cloudwatch logs.

If you do not see events in Honeycomb, there may be errors returned from the Honeycomb API. To see API responses and enable debugging, add the HONEYCOMB_DEBUG=true environment variable to the Lambda function.


If you are trying to pick up a newer version of the integration, or have misconfigured an existing installation, it is better to completely delete the CFN stack and re-create it using the quick-create links.

Advanced Use 

Quick-create links are great for getting started, but if you have an existing workflow for configuring infrastructure, you might want to directly configure the Lambdas yourself to suit your needs. We have provided example templates for Cloudformation and Terraform in our repository to get you started.

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