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Fine-tuning your tags with Cloudability and the AWS Tag Editor

By Leah Weitz on January 27, 2015

Keeping all of your AWS resources tagged is central to monitoring and optimizing your business’s AWS spending and usage. But manually tagging every single resource has, historically, been fairly time consuming—especially for folks who’ve needed to find and tag a number of resources that slipped through the cracks and accumulated over time.

That’s why we were so pleased when AWS released their Tag Editor last month. Now, using Cloudability Usage Analytics and the AWS Tag Editor, finding and tagging lost resources is a matter of minutes—not hours.

Find untagged resources with Cloudability

To find your untagged resources using Cloudability, start by generating a new Usage Report. Set “Instance ID” and “Branch (value)” as your Dimensions, and “Utilization Hours” as your Metric.

Once the report is generated, apply the Dimension Filter “Branch (value) = (not set).” This will cause the report to filter out any instances which do have tags, and leave you with a view of all of those which don’t. Here’s what your report should look like:

Untagged resources Cloudability report

Now that you’ve got a list of your untagged instances, it’s time to tag them!

Apply tags with the Tag Editor

The AWS Tag Editor allows you to search for resources by name across services and Regions, then apply tags to any number of resources at once. Now that you know the names of your untagged resources, you can use the Tag Editor to quickly add tags so that you can start tracking all of your spending.

It’s important before this next step that you identify how to tag each of these instances, which requires knowing how they’re being used. If you’re the owner of some of these instances, you can take a look for yourself at what’s running on them. But if not, you won’t have that access. Cloudtrail, if you have it set up, can identify the IAM user of a resource for you, but otherwise you’ll have to turn to internal bookkeeping to know who to ask. Whatever the case, make sure you investigate how each of these instances are being used and what tags they need before you move on.

Ready to tag? First, make sure that you’re logged into the purchasing account for the instances that you want to tag, because the Tag Editor only works for one account at a time. When you’ve done so, head into the Tag Editor from the AWS Console:

AWS Console Menu

You can filter out any unwanted Region or Resource Type before diving in. Once you hit “Find resources,” you’ll find a list of resources, with a “Filter” field at the top. You can use that field to filter down your resources to those you need to tag.

AWS Tag Editor

If you have several resources that need the same tag (such as resources which are all used in your  Prod environment), you can tag all of them at the same time. Filter down to each one by typing the instance name in the “Filter” field, then select it with the checkbox. When you’ve selected all of the resources, click the “Edit tags for selected” button to add new tags to all of those resources at once.

Repeat that process for the rest of your tags, and you’re done!

Make next time even easier

The above process is significantly easier and quicker than a manual retroactive tagging process would be, but chances are, you have other things you’d rather be doing with your day. To avoid having to go through this whole process again, make sure that your instances are always tagged on deployment. It’s not only easier; it also ensures that you won’t have unaccounted for spending in your system for any amount of time.

Even if you do have a “tag on deployment” policy, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for any resources that may have been missed. After you build your first Untagged Resources report, you can use our Report Subscription feature to set the report for daily delivery any time there’s content—in other words, any day that you have an untagged instance in your system, you’ll get an email. Don’t get any emails? Great! That means your “tag on deployment” policy is working.

To generate a Usage Report and get started, log in or sign up for a free 14-day trial of Cloudability Pro today.

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