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· 6 min read
Anja Freihube

Cloud tagging strategies and policies are hailed as one of the most efficient ways to keep your cloud infrastructure controllable. But are they really?

Generally, the idea is that every piece of cloud service gets tagged (or labeled, in case of GCP) by the developers or maintainers who work with it. This could be accomplished with infrastructure-as-code (IaC) tools (such as Terraform), with a command-line interface (CLI), or in the cloud UI.

Tagging policies could require that each resource needs tags identifying the owner, cost center, product, project, and/or any other metadata. By being diligent about tagging, resources can be managed via their tags and nothing gets overlooked.

In theory, this is the correct way to manage resources; in practice, however, this hardly ever works as intended. Each tag created is a tag that requires maintenance. Tagging policies may change over time and people can make mistakes (in AWS, for example, tag keys are case sensitive). And, to properly use tagging on a greenfield cloud account is one thing; to retroactively apply tags to sprawling cloud infrastructure is quite another (especially when utilizing a multi-cloud strategy, where you'd need to repeat any operation over multiple interfaces).