Share network and organization info with AWS landing zone member accounts

In an AWS landing zone setup, you typically have several infrastructure accounts, which create resources and share them with other member accounts.

A typical AWS landing zone organization structure might look something like this:

AWS Landing Zone

The management account contains your definition of the organizational structure. The network account defines several VPCs with their subnets and routing. In the case of the network resources, you might share the subnets with your member accounts using the AWS Resource Access Manager, or RAM.

# create a subnet in your network account and share it with member accounts
# of your organization.

resource "aws_subnet" "dev_private" {
    tags = {
        Name = "dev_private"

resource "aws_ram_resource_share" "dev_subnets" { ... }

resource "aws_ram_resource_association" "subnet_dev_private" {
    resource_arn       = aws_subnet.dev_private.arn
    resource_share_arn = aws_ram_resource_share.dev_subnets.arn

resource "aws_ram_principal_association" "dev_subnets_dev" {
    principal          =
    resource_share_arn = aws_ram_resource_share.example.arn

So far, so good. Easy and straight-forward. Now let’s take a look at what this new subnet looks like in the member account.

List of subnets without names

Well, it worked. But the subnet has no name! This is because the name of a subnet is stored in its tags (see the Terraform example above). And RAM does not share tags with target accounts. So if we only have access to the member account, we don’t know which subnet to choose, unless we already know its ID. If you work in UI, this makes it pretty error-prone and your resources might end up using the wrong subnet. And if you’re working with Infrastructure as Code, which you should, you might have to hard-code these subnet IDs somewhere, which is also mehh.

One simple solution to this would be to grant member accounts read access to subnets in the network account through a special role. This is not very difficult to set up, but when you need the subnet information, you always have to assume a role first. In Terraform, this is done through a separate provider definition, which you need to configure just for this purpose.

You could also just tag the subnets manually in all member accounts. But again, this is not very pretty.

Enter AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store! This service lets you store simple key-value pairs to be consumed by other services. And these parameters can even be shared - for a small fee - with other accounts through RAM. When we create and share our subnets, we just store their ID in an SSM parameter and share it in the same RAM share with the member accounts. In your IaC definition you can then pull the subnet ID out of the shared parameter and use it to attach an EC2 instance, for example.

Schema of the resource share mechanism

Let’s complete our Terraform code from above.

resource "aws_ssm_parameter" "dev_subnet_ids" {
  name  = "dev-subnet-ids"
  type  = "String"
  tier  = "Advanced"

  value = jsonencode({
    private = aws_subnet.dev_private

resource "aws_ram_resource_association" "param_dev_subnet_ids" {
    resource_arn       = aws_ssm_parameter.dev_subnet_ids
    resource_share_arn = aws_ram_resource_share.dev_subnets.arn

As you can see, we store the value as a JSON object. This makes it easier to share multiple IDs in the same parameter. This saves a few cents and also makes accessing the values on the other side faster and simpler.

Make sure the tier is set to “Advanced”. Standard parameters are not shareable via RAM!

On the consuming side, which will be the member accounts, we can access the subnet IDs simply with a Terraform data source.

# read the ids from the SSM parameter
data "aws_ssm_parameter" "dev_subnet_ids" {
  name = "dev-subnet-ids"

# put the ids into a local for easier access
locals {
    subnet_ids = jsondecode(data.aws_ssm_parameter.dev_subnet_ids.value)

resource "aws_instance" "web" {
  subnet_id = local.subnet_ids.private

That’s it. If you use this a lot, you could also put the reading part into a Terraform module and put the IDs into its output.

For the sake of simplicity, I left some details out. For example the handling of sensitive values and also the possibility to store SSM parameters hierarchically using paths (see aws_ssm_parameters_by_path). But I’m sure you’ll figure that out.

Also, we only shared some subnet ID here. But this method lets you share all sorts of stuff with member accounts. You could also share the organization structure (IDs of organizational units or the IDs of other accounts). This allows you to have information in member accounts without having to add permissions.