Amazon ECS task with maximum lifespan

Maish Saidel-Keesing profile picture
Maish Saidel-Keesing
Senior Developer Advocate at AWS


In some cases you may wish to limit how long a task can run for. This can be used to prevent a batch job from running too long, or to provide a maximum lifespan for an ephemeral game server or similar server that should boot clients after a period of time.

This pattern will show how to use a sidecar container to trigger Amazon ECS task to stop the task after a duration that you set.

Task Definition

Create a task definition using one of the following methods:

  • AWS CloudFormation
  • Raw JSON
File: task-definition.ymlLanguage: yml
AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'
Description: An example task definition that has a maximum lifespan. After
             the duration is up, the task automatically stops.


    Type: AWS::ECS::TaskDefinition
      Family: lifespan
      Cpu: 256
      Memory: 512
        - FARGATE
      NetworkMode: awsvpc

        # The application container
        - Name: nginx
          Essential: true

        # Sidecar container that gives this task a lifetime
        - Name: lifespan
            - "sh"
            - "-c"
            - "sleep $LIFESPAN_SECONDS"
            - Name: LIFESPAN_SECONDS
              Value: 60
          Essential: true

Deploy the CloudFormation template above by using the AWS CloudFormation web console. Alternatively you can deploy from the command line with:

Language: sh
aws cloudformation deploy \
   --stack-name sample-task-definition \
   --template-file task-definition.yml

Test it Out

You can use the Amazon ECS console to launch a copy of the task as a standalone task. After 60 seconds you should see the task stop with a final message of "Essential container in task exited"