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May 24, 2018
Tag your way to better cloud management with the Accenture Cloud Platform
By: Catherine Gulsvig Wood and Roger Foskett

Accenture has an innovation-led approach to developing solutions and services to meet our clients’ cloud management challenges. The latest example comes in the form of a new US patent granted for the Accenture Cloud Platform’s (ACP) new analytics-based multi-cloud tagging capabilities.

ACP enables organizations to manage their public and private enterprise cloud resources from a centralized control plane. Delivered as-a-Service, ACP integrates with technology from the leading cloud providers to help our clients improve their operations, maintain security, control costs, and ensure governance across their growing cloud estates.

ACP’s tagging capabilities play a key role in making such robust cross-cloud management possible. It enables a company to tag assets throughout its entire environment, regardless of which or how many cloud providers it uses. The company can then gain visibility into who’s using which cloud assets, understand how they are being used, and why. Such visibility is critical for effectively managing total cloud spend, as well as deploying standard policies and controls across these assets.

But don’t all cloud providers have tagging capabilities?

Although some providers do have tagging capabilities, and some may have had them for a while, they fall short in key areas. For instance, some may allow users to essentially tag resources however they want, which ends up undermining the tags’ usefulness. Here’s a simple example: Two people on the same project team are asked to tag any server they request to indicate whether it’s being used for production, development, or testing. Yet each interprets that request differently. So, one creates a tag for a new server called "Use" and indicates it's for training. In the meantime, the other requests a server that she’s identified with a tag called "Environment Type," under which she records "Development."

When the project lead gets the bill for the servers, she can’t understand it. Indicating that a machine is for training isn’t the same as saying it’s for development or production. Furthermore, the two people created completely different tags to start with. Therefore, it’s impossible for the project lead to accurately track production and development costs. Multiply that scenario times tens or hundreds of projects and you’ve got a significant issue. ACP injects discipline into tagging by playing the enforcer. In the example, this would mean allowing only one tag called “'Environment Type” and only three possible values to choose from: “Production,” “Development,” or “Testing.”

ACP’s tagging capabilities play a key role in making such robust cross-cloud management possible.

 
 

Overall, ACP limits the number of tags a company can actively manage to 20. And there’s a good reason for this: In our experience, this is an optimal number to accommodate the different business rules you might want to apply and track. Plus, the more tags you have, the more unwieldy and difficult it becomes to manage them (not to mention that it would be impossible to create an interface to display hundreds of tags in a way that makes sense from a user’s perspective). Of course, you may have many more tags you’ve already created with various providers, and those don’t have to change. But with ACP, you can specify the ones that are most meaningful for managing your entire cloud estate.

That said, ACP doesn’t limit the number of values you can add to a tag nor does it place strict limits on the number of characters you can use. If desired, you can create additional tag values to further segment your applications—for example, by creating tag values of "Application 1," "Application 2," and so on—to get a more precise view of the costs of specific systems. This further expands the flexibility ACP offers companies in how they manage their cloud usage and reconcile the tagging rules from various providers.

One of the biggest benefits of ACP's tagging is that it can enforce business rules across all providers, even if they lack a tagging feature themselves. And it does the same across different resource types, which is critical to getting a true, comprehensive view of spend.

A powerful new feature also allows users to also track spend as a trend over time for anything assigned to a particular tag. So, for example, a user can see if the spend on his development environment has significantly outpaced that on his test environment in the past six months.

If you can’t see what you’re doing, you can’t manage your cloud.

The reality is that provisioning VMs or new infrastructure has become quite simple today. That also makes it really easy to spend a lot of money without realizing it. Having better metrics on, visibility into, and control over who's using what and how they're using it—across all providers—is extremely important, especially for companies with many large accounts with multiple providers. That’s what ACP’s tagging is all about.

If you want to learn more about ACP, go here. You’ll find all you need to know about ACP and how companies are using it to get the most from the cloud.

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