server tagging in public cloudAs mentioned previously, server tagging in public cloud offers many benefits, including the ability to better track your cloud resources and get more meaningful KPI metrics for financial and usage reporting. How do you tag your servers though? In this post, we’ll offer tips on how to tag servers in Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

No matter how you organize your tags, it’s important to remember that people aren’t perfect. Therefore, you’ll need to have a protective mechanism in place to handle the inevitable human error that comes with server tagging. Those errors could range from misspelled tags, missing tags or tags that are plain wrong. Azure Resource Manager Policies is a tool from Microsoft Azure to help with just that, and it can be used to enforce tagging right when resources are provisioned. This kind of tool will help with missed tags so you can keep control over your servers.

Tagging your servers in Azure

According to Azure, each tag consists of a key and a value. One example is the key “Environment” and the value “Production,” so as to distinguish all resources in production. You can choose the tags and values that make the most sense to your organization. Microsoft does impose some limits on tagging, including the number of tags (15). For more information, Azure has a step-by-step guide that explains how to apply server tags and where to view them. They also have suggestions for resource policies related to tagging.

Important: Microsoft recently restructured its portal, and there were some major changes. If you have resources in Azure’s Classic Portal, unfortunately, you can’t tag those resources. You may only tag resources listed in the new portal.

Tagging your servers in AWS

Amazon treats server tagging very similarly to Azure. Each tag consists of a key and value, which you can define yourself. As with Azure, there are limitations to the number of tags per resource you can use (50). You can apply tags through the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface, and Amazon EC2 API. Most resources that already exist in your account can be tagged, including AMIs, dedicated hosts, and EBS snapshots. For more information and a complete list, see Amazon’s guide to tagging in EC2. AWS also offers a wealth of documentation around server tagging, including best practices and how to apply your new tagging strategy.

Server tagging is important, and it’s up to you to develop a strong tagging policy. Both AWS and Azure have suggestions for tagging policies as well as how to implement them to help you get started. Make sure your tagging policy is simple, so your users can easily understand it and actually follow through with the tagging, and you’ll want a policy that protects against user error such as mislabeled or forgotten tags. Once you have your tagging policy in place and start following it, you’ll start to see more measurable data around your cloud servers and can better manage your environment.