Tag, You’re It: Implementing a Cohesive Tagging Strategy

Image Attribution: Flickr

Well, it’s that time of year again, when everyone pulls out all their receipts and purchases their favorite software (or hires someone else) to prepare their taxes.
I generally use Quicken to track my expenses throughout the year, and have developed several “canned reports” that I use every year. However, this past year was different.  A lot happened:  I left my old job; searched for a new one; looked into doing some consulting; took several online courses; found a new job.
Searching for the relevant expenses I needed to summarize would have been a whole lot easier if I had tagged them appropriately in Quicken beforehand, but alas, I did not.
How often do we overlook the most simple, yet most powerful things that can make our jobs easier, such as developing and implementing a tagging strategy?  Yet most people relegate this to a mere afterthought.
As far as I can tell, all of the major cloud platforms support some type of tagging strategy for resources within their environments.

These are great for asset management and reporting, and very helpful for sorting through budgets and allocating costs. AWS, for example, allows you to use your tags as filterable columns in their billing … cool!  In AWS, you can have up to 10 tags per resource.  A tag is essentially a key/value pair, which you may define any way you want.

Below is a simple example of how one might tag AWS compute resources to facilitate some degree of asset management as well as cost allocation back to groups, projects and business units.  Note that some but not all of the tags are resource specific.
AWS allows you to manage and apply the tags you create to other resources you provision later on. Azure allows you to do the same thing, as does Google Cloud Platform (GCP), among others.
But, there are limitations.
As far as I can tell, you can only tag running resources (that is, after they are deployed).  Bummer!  Ideally, you would be able to enforce your tagging strategy on a template or image, and have every resource derived from that template carry those tags.
Another challenge that exists is that the tags you use on sharable resources are only good within your account. That’s a problem.
Many large organizations have several accounts. That means they are going to have to coordinate to use the same tagging strategy across shared resources. Otherwise, when attempting to manage assets or assign costs, they might see different tags for the same resource. Yikes!
Wouldn’t it be great if the tags used on public resources were seen by everyone using those resources?
Also, I doubt the tagging approach taken within AWS is the same as Azure’s, or GCP’s, or anyone else’s.  So what?
Well, people keep talking about the holy grail of “cloud bursting”.  If cloud bursting becomes a reality, how would one track or correlate the usage of a given workload across cloud providers?  Cloud users need a tagging strategy that is independent of cloud provider and not subject to these limitations.
The fact is, that capability exists today in a number of third party cloud management platforms, such asOstrato cloudSM.
Tagging is something simple you can use now. Don’t overlook it.
Now… back to taxes (yuck)!
Disclaimer: This article was written by a guest contributor in his/her personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CloudWedge.com.