AWS Tags: What Makes Using Them So Important

Using AWS tags to control deployment sprawl

Adding AWS tags to your Amazon assets and resources is a simple, but potentially critical part of infrastructure management. Tags, when used intelligently, help IT teams streamline the way they manage deployment environments.

Possible structural profiles that can benefit from AWS tags

  • Environment-based tags can be used by customers with larger AWS footprints. These tags will help you quickly distinguish between resources that are part of your production, development, or staging infrastructure.
  • Application-based tags can be used to describe the set of disparate resources (or clusters) that work together to deliver a particular product or service. Such tags can also make sense for resource identification in smaller environments.
  • Role-based tags are used to describe either the function or owner of a particular node (web server, database server, load balancer, etc). Such tags are appropriate for smaller deployments.

How AWS tags help

Here’s one obvious scenario. Imagine an operation providing multiple separate applications served through dozens or hundreds of EC2 instances along with the accompanying environment infrastructure.

Just keeping track of your ongoing billing costs can be a headache. Ask yourself these questions: Which AWS resources (instances, volumes, snapshots…) are actually in use and which are currently lying idle or detached? Which Tiers or environments are incurring the highest costs? Should this be changed? Which business unit is exceeding their AWS cost allocations?

Tags can help. Being able to visually or programmatically identify resources by descriptive tags can make it much easier to understand both their purpose and provenance. If you know what a resource is supposed to be doing, then you’re in a much better position to quickly assess and, if necessary, adjust its costs. Tagging is a simple but essential feature that helps us reduce and control costs by improving the way we understand what’s really going on.

AWS Tags: in detail

Each AWS tag consists of a key and a value, both of which can be defined by the user. Not every AWS service permits customer-defined tags for every service, and some that do can only be tagged only using API Command Line access. The following Screen Shot shows the current tag-status of AWS resources. Resources with tagging restrictions of “None” can be tagged with API actions, the CLI, and the console.

AWS tags by service

The following diagram illustrates how tagging works:

AWS tags: EC2 & how tagging works

In this example, I am assigning two tags to each of my EC2 instances, one called Owner and another called Stack. Each of the tags also has an associated value.

Owner = Nitheesh, Stack = Production

You can define AWS tags from the EC2 console by selecting the relevant instance and selecting the “Tags” option.  Alternatively, you can select the instance, click “Actions” and select “Add/Edit Tags.”

AWS Tagging limitations and cost leakage

Currently, AWS Tags have important limitations. For example, a tag associated with a single AWS resource will apply only to that resource and is not automatically propagated to dependent attached resources.

For example, imagine an EC2 instance whose dependent resources include devices like EBS volumes, Security Groups, and Snapshots. A simple RAID configuration could involve as many as eight EBS Volumes and an unmanageable number of snapshots. But none of these dependent devices will automatically inherit their parent’s tags.

Now imagine how this might look if you’re running thousands of EC2 instances. You’ll have to find each EBS volume associated with a particular instance and individually tag it. Managing this is easier said than done, and the slightest typing error can lead to significant cost leakage.

What if there was a tool to automate tagging for dependent AWS resources? It will surely reduce a great deal of manual labor, and help us identify and, if necessary, remove all dependent resources along with a newly redundant EC2 instance. This would avoid leakages and reduce the cost of cloud operations in very dynamic AWS environments.

Welcome to Graffiti Monkey

There is just such a tool. Graffiti Monkey goes around tagging things automatically. By looking at the tags of an EC2 instance, it copies those tags to all attached EBS Volumes and copies those tags to the EBS Snapshots as well. This small automation reduces hours of manual labor on large AWS deployments, helping us efficiently manage our cloud infrastructure and reduce the cost leakages.

Step 1: Installing Graffiti Monkey 

The easiest way to install Graffiti Monkey is through the usual PyPI channels.
sudo pip install graffiti_monkey
AWS tags: Installing Graffiti Monkey

Step 2: Using Graffiti Monkey

graffiti-monkey --region ap-southeast-2 --verbose

AWS tags: Applying Graffiti Monkey
This will identify the tags associated with your existing EC2 instance, and apply them to dependent resources like EBS volumes and snapshots, saving hours of manual labor.

Avatar

Written by

Nitheesh Poojary

My professional IT career began nine years back when I was just out of my college. I worked with a great team as an infrastructure management engineer, managing hundreds of enterprise application servers. I found my passion when I got the opportunity to work with Cloud technologies: I'm addicted to AWS Cloud Services, DevOps engineering, and all the cloud tools and technologies that make engineers' lives easier. Currently, I am working as a Solution Architect in SixNines IT. We are an experienced team of engineers that have helped hundreds of customers move to the cloud responsibly. I have achieved 5 AWS certifications, happily helping fellow engineers across the globe through my blogs and answering questions in various forums.


Related Posts

Avatar
Cloud Academy Team
— July 9, 2020

Which Certifications Should I Get?

The old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and companies.With all that in mind, the s...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 2, 2020

New Content: AWS, Azure, Typescript, Java, Docker, 13 New Labs, and Much More

This month, our Content Team released a whopping 13 new labs in real cloud environments! If you haven't tried out our labs, you might not understand why we think that number is so impressive. Our labs are not “simulated” experiences — they are real cloud environments using accounts on A...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— June 19, 2020

Kickstart Your Tech Training With a Free Week on Cloud Academy

Are you looking to make a jump in your technical career? Want to get trained or certified on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, DevOps, Kubernetes, Python, or another in-demand skill?Then you'll want to mark your calendar. Starting Monday, June 22 at 12:00 a.m. PDT (3:00 a.m. EDT), ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cloud academy content
  • complimentary access
  • GCP
  • on the house
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— June 11, 2020

New Content: AZ-500 and AZ-400 Updates, 3 Google Professional Exam Preps, Practical ML Learning Path, C# Programming, and More

This month, our Content Team released tons of new content and labs in real cloud environments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first highly interactive "Office Hours" webinar. This webinar, Acing the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification, started with a quick overvie...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Rebecca Willis
Rebecca Willis
— June 3, 2020

Azure vs. AWS: Which Certification Provides the Brighter Future?

More and more companies are using cloud services, prompting more and more people to switch their current IT position to something cloud-related. The problem is most people only have that much time after work to learn new technologies, and there are plenty of cloud services that you can ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • certification
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— June 2, 2020

Blog Digest: 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified, OWASP Top 10, Getting Started with VPCs, Top 10 Soft Skills, and More

Thank you for being a valued member of our community! We recently sent out a short survey to understand what type of content you would like us to add to Cloud Academy, and we want to thank everyone who gave us their input. If you would like to complete the survey, it's not too late. It ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— May 11, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure Cert Prep: AI-100, AZ-104, AZ-204 & AZ-400, Amazon Athena Playground, Google Cloud Developer Challenge, and much more

This month, our Content Team released 8 new learning paths, 4 courses, 7 labs in real cloud environments, and 4 new knowledge check assessments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first course on Alibaba Cloud, and our expert instructors are working 'round the clock to create 6 n...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • gitops
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • lab playground
  • programming
Avatar
Rhonda Martinez
— May 4, 2020

Top 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified Right Now

Cloud computing trends are on the rise and have been for some time already. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start learning cloud computing. Skills like AWS and others associated with cloud computing are in high demand because cloud technologies have become crucial for many businesse...

Read more
  • Amazon Elastic Book Store
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
  • Glacier
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— May 1, 2020

Introducing Our Newest Lab Environments: Lab Playgrounds

Want to train in a real cloud environment, but feel slowed down by spinning up your own deployments? When you consider security or pricing costs, it can be costly and challenging to get up to speed quickly for self-training. To solve this problem, Cloud Academy created a new suite of la...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Docker
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Java
  • lab playgrounds
  • Python
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— April 30, 2020

Blog Digest: AWS Breaking News, Azure DevOps, AWS Study Guide, 8 Ways to Prevent a Ransomware Attack, and More

  New articles by topicAWS Azure Data Science Google Cloud  Cloud Adoption Platform Updates & New Content Security Women in TechAWSBreaking News: All AWS Certification Exams Now Available Online As an Advanced AWS Technology Partner, C...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • programming
  • Security
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— April 27, 2020

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate: A Study Guide

Want to take a really impactful step in your technical career? Explore the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certificate. Its new version (SAA-C02) was released on March 23, 2020, though you can still take SAA-C01 through July 1, 2020. This post will focus on version SAA-C02.The AWS...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— April 9, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: AWS Solutions Architect Exam Prep, Azure Courses, GCP Engineer Exam Prep, Programming, and More

Free content on Cloud Academy More and more customers are relying on our technology and content to keep upskilling their people in these months, and we are doing our best to keep supporting them. While the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to make a small contribution to he...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • programming