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AWS EC2 tags gain finesse with new search and filtering

AWS EC2 instances will be easier to manage thanks to a new system for searching and filtering tags, though automated and policy-based tagging remain on the wish list.

AWS EC2 tags have new search and filtering features that make it easier for IT pros to manage cloud servers, though further updates to the tagging system would be beneficial.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance tags have been available for many years, but customers now can filter EC2 instances by keyword, according to an AWS blog. Partial information, such as a partial instance identification number, for example, can be used to search for AWS EC2 tags. Search results can then be filtered by owner, if they are in production mode, or by name.

Users can also filter to find all instances that are in a stopped state or in production, find partial matches and perform inverse searches. If the current filter is for a particular instance owner, for example, adding an exclamation point before that owner's name will show instances belonging to all other owners. Filters can also be bookmarked and shared within the AWS Management Console.

Advanced queries and filters will become available "before too long" for other AWS resources beyond EC2, according to Amazon’s blog post.

"This is an incremental update, but valuable," said John Treadway, senior vice president with cloud consulting firm Cloud Technology Partners Inc., based in Boston, Mass. "It's not something other clouds do particularly well yet, either. Instance tagging isn't all that prevalent in the industry."

Instance tagging isn't all that prevalent in the industry.
John Treadwaysenior vice president, Cloud Technology Partners

Amazon could also benefit from adding automatic tagging or policy-based tagging, but Treadway cautioned AWS would have to do away with the 10-tag limit per instance if these features were added.

"I can see places where that might be valuable, especially if you create and tear down instances quickly," Treadway said. "Ten tags is more than enough for most use cases, but if you had auto-tagging you'd probably blow right through it; if they add auto-tagging, they may need to relax those limits."

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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