An Introduction to Cloud Tagging

Aug 20, 2021

What are Cloud Tags?

Cloud tagging was introduced by Amazon Web Services in 2010 to allow better management and reporting of cloud resources and is now implemented by all major cloud vendors. Is it commonly used to tackle shadow IT and poor Cloud hygiene. Tags allow for a quick and easy way to answer some of the most commonly asked cloud resource questions without having to rummage through each cloud resource and chase down resource owners. It is best practice to start tagging from the moment you move to the cloud, but it is never too late to start, with the acceleration of cloud uptake fueled by Covid-19 we know that this hasn’t always been possible so we recommend that it is now done as quickly as possible.

Tagging is simply a piece of metadata which assigned to a resource to help categorize it. Each tag has both a key and a value, you can think of this as similar to a nametag, the key being the question you want to ask e.g. ‘name’ and the value ‘John Brown’. Some tags are auto generated when a resource is created, other tags are user defined and are created after the resource e.g. Department or Cost center. As these are user created they are extremely flexible but can be prone to human error.

Why do we use Cloud Tags?

Tags allow us to measure, report and analyze our Cloud resources giving us the information we need to ensure good Cloud governance and hygiene. They give us the ability to see details on the cloud resource without having to look at the resource itself or locate resource users or owners and therefore provide a quick and easy way to answer common Cloud resource questions. Tagging is essential for organizations that are looking to scale their cloud environment.


How can tags help different roles?

The benefits of using Cloud tags extend well beyond the obvious role of cloud architects it also plays a role in:

Cost Management – Through the use of tags teams can cut and dice cost information to deliver business value. Allowing teams to answer questions around cost center, departmental spend, project costs etc. Giving finance and procurement the information, they need for cloud cost allocation and cloud charge backs.

Access Management – Tags can also be used to automate a user’s access to certain resources. E.g. Allow Wendy access to live environments but not development environments. Automated access management through the use of tags can cut the time and costs associated with the configuration of manual access management.

Security Management – If your cloud resources are storing sensitive information they need to be managed with additional security, tags are a great way to identify these resources. For example, environments that contain Personal Identifiable Information (PII) can be highlighted and managed with higher due diligence.

Operations Management – Cloud resources may be operationally managed in different ways, for example tags can help with highlighting policies such as back up and patching routines.

Automation – Tags can help us quickly see what automation is acceptable for a resource such as automated startups and shutdowns.

Resource Management – It is important to know who owns resources and in which department the resource should reside, tags allow you to quickly and easily identify this information.


How to get started with tagging

It’s important to not just jump in and start tagging resources, a rushed approach will leave you with poor tagging standards which can be difficult to rectify. If you have already started tagging your environment without any planning or polices in place its recommended that you invest in a Cloud Asset Management solution to get full multi-cloud visibility of your cloud estate. This will allow you to see all tags assigned to all resources and complete a full review. To ensure effective cloud tagging you should follow the below steps

  1. Ensure good communication and stakeholder buy in
  2. Collectively decide which questions to ask
  3. Understand the limitations of platforms and ensure tags are future proof
  4. Write and document your tagging policy
  5. Staged implementation

How Certero can help

If you are just starting out on your cloud journey we recommend that you focus on your people, processes and technology. You need to ensure you are building a team of informed individuals, creating a future proof set of cloud policies and investing in cloud management technologies to provide visibility and governance over your cloud estate. Certero for Cloud offers complete visibility, governance and cost management of your cloud estate. With a unique policy builder, you can define your cloud policies and monitor your estate for poor tagging standards, highlighting issues as they arise. The solution will then allow you to delve in to the detail finding who owns these assets and when they were created so you can quickly and easily fix the issues.

If you are already on your cloud journey Certero for Cloud can help you gain full visibility of the cloud assets you already have and compare the tags that have already been implemented. This information will be critical as you begin to create your cloud tagging policies and tagging plan. Once your cloud tagging plan has been created the solution will help you track and benchmark your progress through its BI and reporting engine.

Do you want to know more about Cloud tagging? Download the eBook ‘Certero Guide to Cloud Tags’ where we will cover

  • What are cloud tags
  • How to create an effect cloud tagging strategy
  • Who are your key cloud stakeholders
  • Cloud tagging best practices
  • Cloud tagging pitfalls

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