What are the Best Practices for Tagging AWS Resources?

Tagging AWS Resources

In previous posts, we’ve discussed many of the flexible, money-saving features offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). We’ve also discussed how third-party AWS management systems like CloudRanger can help cut costs even further by automating routine tasks. But in order to take full advantage of AWS and CloudRanger, it’s important for users to understand the importance of properly tagging AWS resources.

In the following article, we’ll explain why properly tagging AWS resources is necessary, and go over some of AWS’ best practices and recommended strategies for applying tags. We’ll also explore how CloudRanger utilizes tags to simplify various aspects of AWS, saving time and money in the process.

The Importance Of Tagging AWS Resources

As mentioned above, the AWS cloud-computing platform provides users with a high degree of flexibility which can often lead to lower costs. For example, the ability to schedule non-essential EC2 instances to pause during off hours can lower AWS costs by as much as 70 percent. But this feature only works if a user is able to differentiate between essential and nonessential instances. Otherwise, critical EC2 instances could inadvertently be shut down. That’s where tags come in.

A tag, which consists of a customer-defined key and optional value, is metadata that users can apply to individual or multiple resources for the purposes of management and tracking. In the previous example, the ability to apply a specific tag to all non-essential instances would make it possible to quickly search for and filter out critical instances that need to remain active from those that can be safely scheduled for shutdown. In other words, tags allow users to designate, separate, and group resources however they see fit.

Clearly, tags are a crucial component in the EC2 scheduling process. But automation is just one of the many reasons that tagging can be employed. From cost tracking and security to organization and resource classification, there’s virtually no limit to how or why a user can choose to apply their completely customizable AWS tags. And the fact that a single resource can have up to 50 tags means overlap should not be an issue.

Tagging AWS Resources: Strategies And Best Practices

The fact that AWS tags are completely customizable means users have an incredible amount of freedom when organizing their AWS environment. However, this freedom can prove to be both a blessing and a curse. It’s nice to have options, but at the same time, the lack of pre-generated tags or categories means users are forced to start their organizational process from scratch, which can be a bit overwhelming. After all, tags are only useful when they are strategically applied as part of a relevant, coherent system. When used improperly, tags are at best, pointless. At worst, mismanaged tags can prove to be confusing and detrimental.

Luckily, AWS has laid out the following best practices for creating a general tagging strategy:

  • Always use a standardized, case-sensitive format for tags, and implement it consistently across all resource types.
  • Consider tag dimensions that support the ability to manage resource access control, cost tracking, automation, and organization.
  • Implement automated tools to help manage resource tags. The Resource Groups Tagging API enables programmatic control of tags, making it easier to automatically manage, search, and filter tags and resources. It also simplifies backups of tag data across all supported services with a single API call per AWS Region.
  • Err on the side of using too many tags rather than too few tags.
  • Remember that it is easy to modify tags to accommodate changing business requirements. However, consider the ramifications of future changes, especially in relation to tag-based access control, automation, or upstream billing reports. (Source)

In addition to the best  practices cited above, AWS has also made the following recommendations for how to categorize tags:

Technical Tags AWS

Business Tags AWS

Source: aws.amazon.com

Last but not least, AWS has also made the following recommendations for developing tagging strategies. Keep in mind that because AWS allows up to 50 tags per resource, these strategies are not mutually exclusive, and can easily be run in conjunction with one another.

Console Organization Strategy

The AWS Management Console’s default format is to sort and display resources based on AWS services. However, users can also sort and display their resources based on specific tags, which makes it easy to get a detailed overview of relevant data even if it is spread across multiple services and regions.

Cost Allocation Strategy

AWS tags make it easy to run detailed billing reports on specific resources. The AWS Cost Explorer can run cost allocation reports based on any tag, allowing users to get a detailed look at the cost of specific resources.

Automation Strategy

The importance of using tags in the EC2 automation process has already been covered. However, tags can also be used to opt various other resources, including RDS instances, in or out of an automated task. Automating a backup process will also rely heavily on proper tagging, as will programs designed to delete out-of-date information like old snapshots.

Access Control Strategy

Tags can also be used to assign specific role permissions to AWS users. By setting tag-based conditions for access control, it’s easy to make sure only designated users access specific environments.

Develop A Relevant, Company Specific Strategy For Tagging AWS Resources

Please keep in mind that all of the tagging recommendations listed above are meant as general information which may or may not be completely relevant to a business’ specific needs. At the end of the day, it is up to the user to take advantage of AWS’ high level of customization in order to develop a tagging system that works for their situation.

Tagging And CloudRanger

While tagging AWS resources is an important step, Amazon’s native console also requires scripting when automating mundane but necessary processes such as scheduling EC2 instances or routine backups. However, CloudRanger’s simple, user-friendly console makes it easy to tag and schedule routine tasks without the need for an IT professional. With CloudRanger, tagging and scheduling can be accomplished with a few clicks of a touchpad and without scripting.

Try CloudRanger For Free

Whether you are a small business, a medium business, or an enterprise user of Amazon Web Services, CloudRanger has features that will meet your specific needs. Our AWS cloud management system is easy to install, which means your business can be up and running with CloudRanger in no time. And best of all, you can even try CloudRanger for free for 14 days. So why not experience all the money-saving features and time-saving benefits CloudRanger has to offer?

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Steven

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