Announcing CDK Migrate: A single command to migrate to the AWS CDK

February 4, 2024 By Mark Otto Off

Today we’re excited to announce the general availability of CDK Migrate, a component of the AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK). This feature enables users to migrate AWS CloudFormation templates, previously deployed CloudFormation stacks, or resources created outside of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) into a CDK application. This feature is being launched in tandem with the CloudFormation IaC Generator, which helps customers import resources created outside of CloudFormation into a template, and into a newly generated, fully managed CloudFormation stack. To read more on this feature, check out the launch post.

There are various ways to create and manage resources in AWS, whether that be via “ClickOps” (creating and updating via the AWS Console), via AWS API’s, or using Infrastructure as Code (IaC). While it’s a good and recommended practice to manage the lifecycle of resources using IaC, there can be an on-ramp to getting started. For those that aren’t ready to use IaC, it is likely that they use the console to create the resources and update them accordingly. While this can be acceptable for smaller use cases or for testing out a new service, it becomes more challenging as the complexity of the environment grows. This is further exacerbated when there is a need to re-deploy the exact configuration to other accounts, environments, or regions, as the process becomes very error prone when trying to replicate it. IaC is built to help solve this problem by allowing users to define once and deploy everywhere. For those who have been putting off the move to IaC, now is the time to take the plunge with the IaC generator functionality and CDK migrate, which can accelerate and simplify the move.

Getting Started

The first step when migrating resources into the AWS CDK is to understand the best mechanism for how the users would prefer to interact with their IaC.

  • For users that are looking to define their IaC declaratively (manage resources via a configuration language like YAML), it is recommended that they look at IaC generator, which can generate a CloudFormation template as well as manage the existing resources in a CloudFormation stack.
  • For users that are looking to manage their IaC via a higher level programming language as well as build on top of those templates with higher level abstractions and automation, the AWS Cloud Development Kit and CDK migrate serve as an excellent option,

There is also functionality in the CDK CLI to import resources into an existing CDK application. Let’s review the use cases for when to use CDK migrate vs when to use CDK import.

CDK Migrate

  • Users are looking to migrate one or many resources into a new CDK application.
    • Examples of existing resources in the AWS region to be migrated:
      • Resources created outside of IaC
      • A deployed CloudFormation Stack
  • Users want to migrate from CloudFormation templates into a new CDK application
  • Users are looking for a managed experience to generate CDK code from existing resources and/or CloudFormation templates.
  • While the CDK migrate feature is designed to help accelerate those users looking to use the AWS CDK, it’s important to understand that there are limitations. For more information on the limitations, please review the documentation.

CDK Import

  • Users have an existing CDK application and want to import one or many resources that were created outside of the CDK.
    • Examples of existing resources in the AWS region to be migrated:
      • Resources created outside of IaC (via ClickOps)
      • A deployed CloudFormation Stack
    • The user must define the resources in their CDK app on their own, and ensure that the resources defined in the CDK code map directly to the resource as it exists in the account. There is a multi-step process to follow when using this feature, for more information see here.

This post will walk through an example of how to take a local CloudFormation template and convert it into a new CDK application.


To start, take the CloudFormation template below that will be converted to a CDK application. The template creates an AWS Lambda Function, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) role, and an Amazon S3 Bucket along with some parameters to help make some of the inputs dynamic. Below is the template in full:

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: "2010-09-09"
Description: AWS CDK Migrate Demo Template
Parameters: FunctionResponse: Description: Response message from the Lambda function Type: String Default: Hello World BucketTag: Description: The tag value of the S3 bucket Type: String Default: ChangeMe
Resources: LambdaExecutionRole: Type: AWS::IAM::Role Properties: AssumeRolePolicyDocument: Version: "2012-10-17" Statement: - Effect: Allow Principal: Service: Action: sts:AssumeRole ManagedPolicyArns: - arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/service-role/AWSLambdaBasicExecutionRole HelloWorldFunction: Type: AWS::Lambda::Function Properties: Role: !GetAtt LambdaExecutionRole.Arn Code: ZipFile: | import os def lambda_handler(event, context): function_response = os.getenv('FUNCTION_RESPONSE') return { "statusCode": 200, "body": function_response } Handler: index.lambda_handler Runtime: python3.11 Environment: Variables: FUNCTION_RESPONSE: !Ref FunctionResponse S3Bucket: Type: AWS::S3::Bucket Properties: PublicAccessBlockConfiguration: BlockPublicAcls: true BlockPublicPolicy: true IgnorePublicAcls: true RestrictPublicBuckets: true BucketEncryption: ServerSideEncryptionConfiguration: - ServerSideEncryptionByDefault: SSEAlgorithm: AES256 Tags: - Key: Application Value: Git-Sync-Demo - Key: DynamicTag Value: !Ref BucketTag
Outputs: S3BucketName: Description: The name of the S3 bucket Value: !Ref S3Bucket Export: Name: !Sub ${AWS::StackName}-S3BucketName

This is the template that you will use when running the migration command. As a reminder, this demo migrates a CloudFormation template to a CDK application, but you can also migrate a previously deployed stack or non IaC created resources.


The migration from the CloudFormation template to the CDK is done with a single command: cdk migrate. Simply point to the local CloudFormation template file (let’s call it demo-template.yaml), and watch as the CLI converts the template into a CDK application. The output and result from running the command will be a directory comprised of the CDK code and dependencies, but will not deploy the stack.

cdk migrate --stack-name CDK-Local-Template-Migrate-Demo --language typescript --from-path ../demoTemplate.yaml

CDK Migrate command

In the above command, you’re instructing the CDK CLI to consume the CloudFormation template file using the --from-path parameter, and choose the language as the output for the CDK application. The CDK CLI will convert the template as well as create a project folder along with the required dependencies for the CDK application.

When the migration is complete, the CDK application along with the project structure and files are available and ready to use, but have not yet been deployed. Below is the file structure of what was generated:

cdk app directory structure

The above output represents the scaffold for your CDK Typescript application, ready for deployment. The two directories that house the CDK code are bin and lib. Within the bin directory you’ll find the code that creates our CDK app and calls the CDK Stack class. The name of the files will match the input that was passed into the –stack-name parameter when running the migrate command, so in this case the file is named: bin/cdk-local-template-migrate-demo.ts. Below is the generated code:

CDK App Code

The CdkLocalTemplateMigrateDemoStack is imported and then instantiated. This is where the code that was converted from the existing CloudFormation template (or stack, or resources) resides. Again, similar to how the file was named above, the filename and location for the CDK stack code is lib/cdk-local-template-migrate-demo-stack.ts. Let’s look at the code that was converted.

CDK Stack Code

Comparing the above auto generated code to the original CloudFormation template, the definitions of the resources look similar. This is because the migrate command is generating the CDK code using L1 constructs, which represent all resources available in CloudFormation. For more information on CDK constructs and the various levels of abstraction they offer, check out this video.

The CloudFormation parameters were converted to properties inside of an interface, which are passed in to the Stack class. Inside of the Stack class code, it honors the defaults set in the properties based on the defaults were set in the original CloudFormation parameters. If you wanted to override those defaults, you could pass those properties into the CDK stack as follows:

CDK App Code Cleaned Up

With your newly created CDK application, you’re ready to deploy it to your AWS account.


If this is the first time that you are using the CDK in the account and region, you will need to run the cdk bootstrap command, which creates assets required for the CDK to properly deploy resources to the region and account. For more information see here. Assuming the bootstrap process has happened, you can proceed to deployment.

The Infrastructure as Code is ready to deploy, but prior to deploying you should run a cdk diff to see what will be deployed. Running the diff command creates a change set and surfaces the changes being proposed (in this case it is a brand new stack with new resources).

Cdk Diff command

From the output you can see that all new resources are being created. If the cdk diff command was run against existing resources or stacks, assuming nothing changed (like above where I updated the properties), the diff would show no changes to the existing resources.

Next, deploy the stack (by running the cdk deploy command) and once the deployment is complete, head over to the AWS console and find your Lambda function. Run a test on your lambda function, and the response should match the functionResponse property that was updated as “CDK Migrate Demo Blog”.Lambda test execution output

Wrapping up

In this post, we discussed how the CDK migrate command can help you move your resources to the CDK to manage your infrastructure as code, whether it’s from a CloudFormation template, previously deployed CloudFormation stack, or from importing resources via the CloudFormation IaC generator feature. As always, we encourage you to test this feature and provide feedback and/or feature requests in our GitHub repo. In addition, if you’re new to the CDK there are some resources that can help you get started.