There are numerous reasons why you would want to accurately document your AWS cloud environments with an AWS Diagram.
The only decision you need to make is whether to manually construct diagrams based on reviewing your console configuration, or to use automation to scan and build the diagrams for you.
The former method is time consuming and prone to human error, whereas the latter option is fast and more accurate.
Visualizing exactly what is running based on the actual resources configured in your AWS environments is probably the number one reason to use automated AWS Diagram Software over manually drawn diagrams.
The automation process discovers exactly what is running, so you can provide the tools and documentation to onboard engineers faster, get to grips with new client networks or report to management in an easily understood visual format.
Mapping out your AWS environment with say Visio or draw.io and your AWS Icon template pack is a daunting prospect if your AWS environment contains more than a handful of EC2 instances.
Not only do you need to manually lay out your VPC's, availability zones and resources which can take hours or days, once you have drawn the diagrams, you then need to keep them up to date if they are going to be of any practical use. That's where using automated AWS diagram software comes into play.
AWS Infrastructure DIAGRAMS
There are several network topology diagrams that can prove useful to your engineering and DevOps team when building solutions on AWS. These include an AWS Infrastructure diagram like this:
This diagram logically lays out all the resources discovered when an AWS account is connected to Hava. The main VPC (the green rectangle) is surrounded by associated resources like internet and VPN gateways, S3 Buckets, VPC endpoints, VPC peering connections, Elastic Beanstalk environments.
Within the VPC, the configured availability zones are set out in columns. These columns contain the individual subnets set up in those AZ's. All the resources contained in each subnet are visualized as are any load balancers routing traffic to the various subnets.
Hava creates this AWS diagram automatically from configuration data which enables interrogation of each of the resources to see the settings and associations related to it. By clicking on any of the individual resource icons, the attribute pane on the right hand side of the diagram displays all the known details pertaining to the resource. Something that simply isn't possible with manually created drag-and-drop diagram makers which provides a massive time saving when compared to flipping between diagrams and cloud consoles.
Automating the diagram build using AWS Diagram Software also reveals resources you may not be aware of. Long forgotten database instances and sometimes entire dev or test environments are regularly discovered by Hava users when they connect their cloud accounts to their Hava account.
3D AWS Diagrams
All Hava diagrams can also be viewed in interactive 3D
AWS SECURITY DIAGRAMS
Another major benefit of automating the discovery of your AWS environment diagrams is the ability to visualize security group information.
AWS SECURITY ARCHITECTURE DIAGRAM
With a security group diagram you can view all of your configured security groups with the open ports overlaid to enable an instant visual snapshot of the traffic flow and access points. The diagram also being interactive ensures you can select a particular security group on the diagram and view important information relating to the group, like the connected resources, ingress and egress IP addresses and associated tags.
Build Custom AWS VPC ARCHITECTURE DIAGRAMs
There is always a compromise when it comes to automation and generated documentation. The way that Hava discovers and builds diagrams is based at a VPC level. If more than one VPC is detected in your Amazon cloud account, then these are placed on separate diagrams.
You may however want to combine two or more VPCs onto a single diagram. This can be achieved using the custom query function built into hava.io.
AWS VPC DIAGRAM GENERATOR
This custom query would create a new 'on-the-fly' custom diagram containing the two nominated AWS VPCs specified. You then have the ability to save this diagram so it is always present in your dashboard (until you choose to delete it). As with all other diagrams, your custom AWS infrastructure diagram would keep itself up to date and retain a version history every time a resource change is detected.
AWS VPC COMPONENTS DIAGRAM
Sometimes it is just not practical to include every single component onto a diagram. Take for instance Network Interfaces, Volumes or WAF Rules. In a large network with hundreds or maybe thousands of these non essential components, trying to visualize every single component would make the diagram practically unreadable, or certainly too busy to easily recognise the core components.
Hava solves this issue by providing detailed list that details every single resource detected, whether visualised on the diagram or not.
This comprehensive list of resources can also be sorted and exported along with estimated monthly costs so you can see at a glance what resources are costing you the most money.
This detailed view is also interactive. Selecting a resource on the diagram will reveal all the known settings and associations that resource has.
EXPORTING AWS NETWORK TOPOLOGY DIAGRAMS
The native AWS architecture diagrams created by Hava are the nearest we've seen to the examples and recommendations provided by AWS. These are great to view and interrogate via the dashboard, however sometimes you'll need to pull a set of diagrams for audit purposes or for management or sales presentations.
The built-in export function allows you to do this by providing these export options
CSV, VSDX, JSON, PDF and PNG
Editing Hava Diagrams
Hava maintains updated diagrams of your cloud infrastructure and places superseded diagrams into a version history. These diagrams are generated from actual real configuration data (the source of truth) so can be relied upon for audit and governance.
There is currently no method of editing Hava diagrams to maintain the integrity of the diagrams.
Should you want to manipulate or embellish your auto generated diagrams, exporting to VSDX format and using Visio, draw.io or any VSDX compatible drawing package will allow you to edit your diagrams as required.
Should you not have access to Visio but would like to try this out, try opening one of your exported VSDX files in the opensource draw.io (diagrams.net)
Getting Hava to do the bulk of the heavy lifting by initially generating accurate diagrams based on what is actually configured and running in your AWS environment enables you to access a base diagram ready to edit which will save you hours or possibly days preparing management reports.
Hava will also visualize containerized tasks and workloads when encountered in your AWS configuration.
Each visualized task is color coded to indicate if the task is running, starting/stopping and spare
AWS WELL ARCHITECTED COMPLIANCE
In addition to Infrastructure and Security diagrams, Hava also provides AWS Compliance Reporting via a reporting module on the environments dashboard.
Hava reporting steps you through all the regions and resources you have configured and will draw your attention to findings graded as high, medium or low and the reasoning behind the finding viewed through the prism of the AWS Well architected framework.
AUTOMATED AWS DIAGRAM UPDATES
Finally, your documentation is only useful if it is accurate. It is quite possible to spend weeks manually constructing AWS network topology documentation only to have it rendered useless by a minor change to your network configuration.
Built into every Hava account is an auto-sync function that polls connected data sources and automatically updates diagram sets when changes are detected. This means your diagrams are always current and up to date.
The superseded diagram sets aren't discarded however. They are placed into a version history that enables you to pull up older diagrams in the same fully interactive format.
This allows you to quickly and visually identify changes to your cloud network topology by pulling up the current and superseded diagrams side by side.
It also allows you to demonstrate the status of your network at any point in history. This can be invaluable during a PCI compliance audit or insurance claim should your network design ever be called into question.
There aren't many people that would dispute the benefits of perpetually accurate network documentation.
Diagramming networks is the very first function any cloud or security consultant undertakes when onboarding a new client account. This can take days and multiple engineers resulting in significant expense to the client.
Automating the process is a far better approach.
Hava provides just this with:
- Auto generation of documentation for your AWS environments (as well as Azure and Google Cloud Platform)
- Automated diagram updates
- Retention of a full set of superseded diagrams in version history every time a resource changes
- Provides a comprehensive API to allow IaC build pipeline integration
- Provides a unique security view detailing security groups with visualized traffic ingress/egress
- True 3d renders
- Separate AWS Well Architected compliance reporting
- Available as SaaS or fully self-hosted
If you are currently building on AWS, Azure or GCP you can try Hava for free here: