AWS Retirement Notification Bot

If you use AWS a lot you will be familiar with the “AWS Retirement Notification” emails. At ZipRecruiter, when we send our many emails, we spin up tens of servers in the middle of the night. There was a period for a week or two where I’d wake up to one or two notifications each morning. Thankfully those servers are totally ephemeral. By the time anyone even noticed the notification the server was completely gone. Before I go further, here’s an example of the beginning of that email (the rest is static:)

Dear Amazon EC2 Customer,

We have important news about your account (AWS Account ID: XXX). EC2 has detected degradation of the underlying hardware hosting your Amazon EC2 instance (instance-ID: i-deadbeef) in the us-east-1 region. Due to this degradation, your instance could already be unreachable. After 2016-07-06 02:00 UTC your instance, which has an EBS volume as the root device, will be stopped.

Note that the identifier there is totally not useful to a human being. Every time we got this notification someone on my team would log into the AWS console, look up the server, and email the team: “the server is gone, must have been one of the email senders” or maybe “the server is an email sender and will be gone soon anyway.”

Like many good programmers I am lazy, so I thought to myself: “I should write an email bot to automate what we are doing!”



use strict;
use warnings;

use Mail::IMAPClient;
use Email::Address;
use Email::Sender::Simple qw(sendmail);
use Data::Dumper::Concise;
use Try::Tiny;

my ($from) = Email::Address->parse('Zip Email Bot <>');
my $imap = Mail::IMAPClient->new(
  Server   => '',
  User     => $from->address,
  Password => $ENV{ZIP_EMAIL_BOT_PASS},
  Ssl      => 1,
  Uid      => 1,
) or die 'Cannot connect to as ' . $from->address . ": $@";

$imap->select( $ENV{ZIP_EMAIL_BOT_FOLDER} )
  or die "Select '$ENV{ZIP_EMAIL_BOT_FOLDER}' error: ", $imap->LastError, "\n";

for my $msgid ($imap->search('ALL')) {

  require Email::MIME;
  my $e = Email::MIME->new($imap->message_string($msgid));

  # if an error happens after this the email will be forgotten
  $imap->copy( 'processed', $msgid )
    or warn "Could not copy: $@\n";

  $imap->move( '[Gmail]/Trash', $msgid )
    or die "Could not move: $@\n";

  my @ids = extract_instance_list($e);

  next unless @ids;

  my $email = build_reply(
    $e, Dumper(instance_data(@ids))

  try {
  } catch {
    warn "sending failed: $_";

# We ignore stuff in the inbox, stuff we care about gets filtered into another
# folder.
$imap->select( 'INBOX' )
  or die "Select 'INBOX' error: ", $imap->LastError, "\n";

my @emails = $imap->search('ALL');

if (@emails) {
  $imap->move( '[Gmail]/Trash', \@emails )
    or warn "Failed to cleanup inbox: " . $imap->LastError . "\n";

  or die "Logout error: ", $imap->LastError, "\n";

# A lot of this was copy pasted from Email::Reply; I'd use it except it has some
# bugs and I was recommended to avoid it.  I sent patches to resolve the bugs and
# will consider using it directly if those are merged and released.
# -- fREW 22Mar2016
sub build_reply {
  my ($email, $body) = @_;

  my $response = Email::MIME->create;

  # Email::Reply stuff
  $response->header_str_set(From => "$from");
  $response->header_str_set(To => $email->header('From'));

  my ($msg_id) = Email::Address->parse($email->header('Message-ID'));
  $response->header_str_set('In-Reply-To' => "<$msg_id>");

  my @refs = Email::Address->parse($email->header('References'));
  @refs = Email::Address->parse($email->header('In-Reply-To'))
    unless @refs;

  push @refs, $msg_id if $msg_id;
  $response->header_str_set(References => join ' ', map "<$_>", @refs)
    if @refs;

  my @addrs = (
  @addrs = grep { $_->address ne $from->address } @addrs;
  $response->header_str_set(Cc => join ', ', @addrs) if @addrs;

  my $subject = $email->header('Subject') || '';
  $subject = "Re: $subject" unless $subject =~ /\bRe:/i;
  $response->header_str_set(Subject => $subject);

  # generation of the body


sub extract_instance_list {
  my $email = shift;

  my %ids;
  $email->walk_parts(sub {
    my $part = shift;
    return if $part->subparts; # multipart
    return if $part->header('Content-Disposition') &&
      $part->header('Content-Disposition') =~ m/attachment/;

    my $body = $part->body;

    while ($body =~ m/\b(i-[0-9a-f]{8,17})\b/gc) {
      $ids{$1} = undef;

  return keys %ids;

sub find_instance {
  my $instance_id = shift;

  my $res;
  # could infer region from the email but this is good enough
  for my $region (qw( us-east-1 us-west-1 eu-west-1 )) {
    $res = try {
      # theoretically we could fetch multiple ids at a time, but if we get the
      # "does not exist" exception we do not want it to apply to one of many
      # instances.
      _ec2($region)->DescribeInstances(InstanceIds => [$instance_id])
    } catch {
      # we don't care about this error
      die $_ unless m/does not exist/m;

    last if $res;

  return $res;

sub instance_data {
  return unless @_;
  my %ids = map { $_ => 'not found (no longer exists?)' } @_;

  for my $id (keys %ids) {
    my $res = find_instance($id);

    next unless $res;

    my ($i, $uhoh) = map @{$_->Instances}, @$res;

    next unless $i;

    warn "multiple instances found for one instance id, wtf\n" if $uhoh;

    $ids{$id} = +{
      map { $_->Key => $_->Value }

  return \%ids;

my %ec2;
sub _ec2 {
  my $region = shift;

  require Paws;

  $ec2{$region} ||= Paws->service('EC2', region => $region );


There’s a lot of code there, but this is the meat of it:

my @ids = extract_instance_list($e);

next unless @ids;

my $email = build_reply(
  $e, Dumper(instance_data(@ids))

try {
} catch {
  warn "sending failed: $_";

And then the end result is a reply-all to the original email that looks something like this:

Subject: Re: [Retirement Notification] Amazon EC2 Instance scheduled for retirement.

  "i-8c288e74" => {
    Level => "prod",
    Name => "send-22",
    Team => "Search"

The code above is cool, but the end result is awesome. I don’t log into the AWS console often, and the above means I get to log in even less. This is the kind of tool I love; for the 99% case, it is quiet and simplifies all of our lives. I can see the result on my phone; I don’t have to connect to a VPN or ssh into something; it just works.


The power went out in the entire city of Santa Monica today, but I was able to work on this blog post (including seeing previews of how it would render) and access the emails that it references thanks to both my email setup and my blog setup. Hurray for software that works without the internet!

Posted Wed, Jun 22, 2016