Smart Folders

Smart Folders are a flexible container for Policy settings. Policies can be set on smart folders, making it easy to apply collections of policies to resources across the Resource Hierarchy.

Tip: An unattached smart folder is inert, making it a safe place to practice applying policies and ensuring that the policy Terraform is working properly.

This example shows an example hierarchy with two smart folders created at the Turbot level.

Enforcement Policies (Smart Folder)
Check Policies (Smart Folder)
{Top Level Folder} (Folder)
{Cloud Account} (Cloud Account)

Smart Folder Attachments

Attaching smart folders to folders and resources "activates" the policies contained in the smart folder. Notice that the ordering of smart folder attachment matters a great deal. When evaluating policies, Guardrails starts at the resource then ascends the resource hierarchy looking for an applicable policy. A check-mode policy above the same policy in enforce-mode will have no effect. The enforce-mode policy is closer to the resource, so it wins. Remember, "the closest policy wins".

Along with the concept of attaching a smart folder to resources, if a smart folder is attached to any resource, it becomes the Parent of that resource and as such the smart folder cannot be deleted until all resources have been detached.

Use Case

The resource hierarchy provides a clear model for sharing/inheriting policy settings and permissions across resources. For example, a policy setting AWS > S3 > Bucket > Approved on AWS 1111 will be used by all S3 buckets beneath it in the resource hierarchy.

But consider a situation where we wish to have specific policy settings for VPCs based on their region (e.g. local DNS servers). VPCs are based in different accounts, so they exist in different branches of the hierarchy:

In this case, the resource hierarchy is insufficient and would require duplication of policy settings to every individual region or VPC.

Instead, we define a smart folder US Network with US specific settings, and a second smart folder EU Network with EU specific settings. For example:

US Network:
AWS > VPC > DNS Servers =
AWS > VPC > NTP Servers =
EU Network:
AWS > VPC > DNS Servers =
AWS > VPC > NTP Servers =

Smart folders are then attached to the region resources:

Folder A
AWS 1111
us-east-1 (+ US Network)
eu-west-1 (+ EU Network)
AWS 2222
us-east-1 (+ US Network)
eu-west-1 (+ EU Network)

VPCs in each region will now have their region specific policies, while administrators can maintain those policy settings in a single location.

Further Reading