Tags are key-value pairs of data that are associated with collected metrics to provide contextual information, distinguish and group metrics during analysis and inspection.

Some examples of tags are:


Tags can be defined in one service, then can be serialized into request headers and propagated as a part of a request to downstream services.

In distributed systems, a single request can touch a wide range of services. For example a file upload request can invoke the authentication, billing, data storage, and caching services.

To maintain contextual information of the specific request, tag propagation through your distributed system is necessary; the higher levels generate tags that are then passed down to the lower-level services. Data is collected with the tags and are sent to your observability systems.

Tag propagation

Above, a request comes in to the Web server. Web server tags all the outgoing requests with the following tags.

These values are propagated all the way down to database and the CDN.

With these tags, you can uniquely identify and break down which service called the downstream services, how much quota they’ve been used, what calls are failing and more.