How To

Custom CMDB data

Import your org's custom reference data into the Turbot Guardrails CMDB.

Turbot Team
5 min. read - Jun 15, 2021
Import your org's custom reference data into the Turbot Guardrails CMDB.

Having correct metadata for a resource is crucial for automated resolution of operations, security and compliance incidents. Teams often rely on owner-assigned resource tags to add external context to resources; however, additional deep-context can be added to resources via the Turbot Guardrails CMDB.

This post looks at how to import and use custom CMDB data using the Turbot Guardrails Files feature.

Traditional Workflow

Databases outside of the CMDB often contain reference data (and master data) that is important to cloud operations and security: 'cost centers', 'approved project IDs', 'distribution lists' and 'data classification' just to name a few. This type of data changes over time but its correctness can be very important when automating governance controls.

Requiring application teams to create and update tagging metadata is notoriously difficult to enforce. Even when the teams do maintain data, simple data entry mistakes, alternate spellings and capitalization mismatches are very common errors.

Turbot Guardrails Files

A Turbot Guardrails File is a text-based data object that typically contains a JSON formatted string. Once the object is imported into the CMDB, the data in it can then be referenced at runtime in Calculated Policies and Stacks.

  • A File resource can contain any arbitrary data. Customers will often utilize a JSON schema to make it easier to reference data inside each file.
  • A File resource can be a child of the root Turbot Guardrails resource or a Turbot Guardrails Folder.
  • The name (internally called aka) of the File resource is user-definable.

Get it done with Turbot Guardrails

Turbot Guardrails Files can be managed using standard GraphQL API or the Turbot Guardrails Terraform Provider. Management can be automated in a variety of ways depending on your organization's requirements. Some examples:

  • Use a trigger to update the Turbot Guardrails File whenever asset data in an inventory management tool changes.
  • Write a shell script to pull data from a third party API and update the File with the Turbot Guardrails CLI.
  • Manually update the File via Terraform.
  • Write a Lambda to update the File via the GraphQL API.

In this example we will use a Terraform template to create a Turbot Guardrails File in order to add application metadata to our CMDB. Once the data is imported we will use it to enhance our tagging controls.

This Terraform template contains a File resource (note the name of the resource is "dmiapps"). Applying the template adds the JSON object specified in content to our Turbot Guardrails workspace.

Now that we have our Turbot Guardrails File created we can use the metadata inside of it as a data-source for our calculated policies. For example, we can use Turbot Guardrails tagging controls to tag resources using metadata from the "dmiapps" file. To demonstrate the approach we will use a calculated policy to tag our S3 Buckets with the correct values based on the enclosing AWS Account.

The GraphQL query (see "Step 1" below) retrieves both the bucket resource's metadata object, and the data from the "dmiapps" file.

As seen in Step 2, above, we can then extract the AWS account ID from the resource and use it to lookup keyed values stored in the "dmiapps" file.

The provided example can easily be adjusted for any resource that can be tagged (across all supported cloud services). The best part is that whenever the Turbot Guardrails File is updated (e.g. a new app is added, change in App owner, etc.), any affected tags will automatically be updated as well.

Now that our tagging template above is set via a calculated policy, we can begin enforcing the tagging control by setting the Tags policy value to **Enforce: Set tags**:

After setting this policy, Turbot Guardrails will identify all resources that do not have the tags applied correctly, and then handle their remediation (i.e. set the tags).

If you are not yet ready to enforce remediation, you can still assess (and get alerts for) what resources do not have matching tags by changing the policy setting from Enforce: Set tags to Check: Tags are correct.

Make it happen!

See for yourself how easy it is to manage your custom CMDB metadata configurations across all your cloud resources. A ready-to-run Terraform template is available to enable this configuration from the Turbot Development Kit (TDK). If you need any assistance, let us know in our Slack community #guardrails channel. If you are new to Turbot, connect with us to learn more!