Home AWS Codepipeline Stuck at Cloudformation Prepare Stage

AWS Codepipeline Stuck at Cloudformation Prepare Stage

This issue puzzled me and even AWS support for weeks, although for the later it was mostly because of their availability not their skills:

I pushed in an update for one of my pipeline managed stacks but the Cloudformation prepare stage was not completing. No errors, nothing but it was displaying “running” without doing anything really. The Cloudformation change-set was never created and after a day or two, it eventually timed out.

As a standard course of action, I logged a support ticket, we went through the usual permission checks, our setup and so on but there was no clue so support escalated the ticket to backend engineering. After a couple of weeks of hassling our account manager and support, we got the information we needed and fixed it.

Partially, it was my fault but in the end I think AWS played a key role in this, hence we made a couple of requests to prevent this to happen in the future:

  • Fix the service to include key backend information in CloudWatch

  • Update the documentation


We had our Elasticsearch service up for the Opensearch upgrade and it was managed with old, yaml style code and manual actions. As stated by the documentation, this change isn’t just clicking the upgrade button on console. There are specific steps to actually migrate the Cloudformation service objects into a new API compatible template and stack.

Since we built a new Codepipeline driven automated deployment framework for CDK generated Cloudformation templates, we thought how convenient it is, we can move the service to a new template/stack management platform too.

The migration is out of the scope of this article but basically, it included a step where the existing service object essentially needs to be imported into a new stack then updated and so on.

And this is where the process failed. It turns out, that Codepipeline does check the existing Cloudformation stack’s last status before proceeding:

“AWS workers are not able to update the stack because within this operation we treat the key/value pair for status_status=IMPORT_COMPLETE as a state which cannot be updated.”

This is utterly wrong to me, it is needless to build such a logic into other services, they should just let Cloudformation to do its job and decide what is valid to update and what is not.

Updating a Cloudformation stack with IMPORT_COMPLETE last status is perfectly valid, but is is invalid for Codepipeline and to be frank, it is nonsense.


Update the stack manually (awscli, console, tool of your choice) with something, edit description, add a parameter, metadata or whatever you want, all we need is its status changed to UPDATE_COMPLETE.

Once the stack is out of the IMPORT_COMPLETE state, Codepipeline will be be able to update the stack again.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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