Why is the use of tagging for EBS volumes so important in AWS?

Tagging for EBS Volumes

Adding AWS tags to your Amazon assets and resources is a simple, but potentially critical part of infrastructure management. Tagging isn’t new, it can be achieved quite simply in your EC2, S3 (called Metadata in S3) and RDS instances with a few clicks of the Tag button feature. So, why is it important to EBS Volumes?

Why is the use of tagging for EBS volumes so important in AWS?

Amazon Elastic Block Storage provides persistent block level storage volumes for use with Amazon EC2 instances in the AWS Cloud. Each Amazon EBS volume is automatically replicated within its Availability Zone to protect from component failure, offering high availability and durability.

What are Tags?

Tags are key/value pairs which are stored in the cloud and are private to each customer’s account. With each AWS user having a minimum of 5 classes:

  1. Environmental  
  2. Application
  3. Cluster
  4. Role
  5. Owner

There is a default tag for most resources (“NAME”). Most AWS services, including EC2, S3, and RDS, support customer-defined tags. Amazon ELB, Amazon SQS, and Amazon DynamoDB are the exception. Tags have a maximum tag key of 128 characters and a minimum value length of 256 characters and are case sensitive. Tags help Information Technology (IT) teams streamline the deployment environments.

So, what is the problem?

Well, you can define tags from Amazon EC2 instance consoles quickly and easily. A tag is associated with a single AWS resource, it will apply only to that resource and does not automatically follow on to Amazon EBS volumes, snapshots or security groups. This can cause major problems when running hundreds and thousands of EC2 instances, trying to look and match these to associated EBS volumes and other resources can be time-consuming, labour intensive and can cause cost leakage. So when AWS customers are finding unidentified costs in their bills and you have EBS backed instances, tagging solutions will improve how you track your storage use. This will avoid leakage and reduce the cost of cloud operations in a very dynamic AWS cloud environment.

Tagging solutions

There are two solutions offered for tagging. One is to run code for a background tagging job and the other is to use Amazon Cloudformation with EC2 User Data. The code performs a job to find all Amazon EBS volumes and look for cases where tags are wrong or missing. When or if a problem arises the job will look up the instance it’s attached to and copy the tags. With this, scripts can be set to run and items such as snapshots can be tagged. With an Amazon EC2 instance the option to pass in user data as a shell script to perform configuration tasks is available on set-up. This can also be applied through Amazon’s Cloudformation ensuring the EC2 Instance is attached and the root volume is tagged. This is achieved by AWS CLI Tools that are installed in your AMI. Allowing EBS Volumes to be automatically tagged quickly, help efficiently manage cloud infrastructure, and reduce cost. This is why, tagging for EBS volumes is so important in AWS.

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