17 min read

Draw Azure Diagrams

March 31, 2022

draw azure diagram

When you work with Microsoft Azure, you no doubt appreciate the value of great network topology diagrams. Good network infrastructure diagrams provide a visual cue for better communication and understanding of your azure cloud infrastructure at all levels of your organisation, from management down to freshly onboarded engineers and consultants. But should you draw Azure diagrams yourself, or automate the process?

The answer is automation every time. If you have spent too many valuable hours manually drawing Azure diagrams, then you probably appreciate how much time is saved and how many errors are eliminated when you automate the drawing process.

Azure is one of several cloud platforms that are compatible with hava.io which will safely connect to your Azure cloud console (via read only credentials) to automate the production and updating of Azure architecture diagrams like this:

Azure_Extended_Infrastructure_View

Connecting your Azure console to Hava so that your diagrams can be automatically generated is a straight forward process and the results are a lot quicker than trying to draw azure diagrams yourself with a manual drag and drop drawing application.

To import environment resource metadata from Microsoft Azure, you will need to access your Azure Portal at https://portal.azure.com , create a new Service Principle and retrieve a set of credentials for your Azure account.

Open the Azure Portal and launch PowerShell from the top menu bar :

1. Launch Powershell

Open the Azure Portal and launch PowerShell from the top menu bar

Open Power Shell
 

2. Create Service Principal

You will need to create a new Service Principal from the command line and a display name. In the below code example, we’ve used HavaServicePrincipal you can edit and choose a name that suits you.

Create_Service_Principle

3. Assign Reader Role

Hava only requires read-only access so, you can assign the read-only permissions to the Service Principal account using the below command.

Assign_Reader_Role
 

4. Create the Password

Once you’ve created the Service Principal and assigned it with a Reader Role, you need to create password credentials to attach to the Service Principal.

Create_a_Password
 

5. Obtaining the Credentials

The final step required is to retrieve the necessary credentials to input into Hava.

Get_Credentials
 
Azure_Credentials
 
 

Once you have the required credentials, you can log in to Hava which will open up the environments screen.  You then select "Add Environments"

Hava_Add_New_Cloud_Environment
 

Click on the "Azure" Tab and enter the credentials you have just gathered from your Azure PowerShell.

Add_Azure_Credientials_to_Hava

 

Hava will import your Azure configuration metadata, layout the diagram and add an environment tile to the Hava "Environments" screen. From this point Hava will continually sync with Azure and log any configuration changes, so you always have an accurate visual representation of your Azure Environment on hand when you need it.

Azure_View

The diagrams produced are logically laid out by resource group which contain your subnets running in virtual networks.  All of the resource metadata isn't placed on the diagram, but is displayed in a contextual attribute pane to the right hand side of your infrastructure diagram.

Moving the metadata for individual resource instances from the diagram canvas to the side panel keeps the diagram uncluttered, but allows you to select the interactive elements of the diagram, like a virtual network, subnet or individual resources like gateways, load balancers, virtual machines, virtual network peering connections and storage accounts to see the related settings. All the metadata and settings are displayed alongside the diagram in the attribute pane and are contextual to the currently selected element.

With nothing selected, the attribute side panel displays information about the entire Azure environment including a cost estimate breakdown.

Azure_Environment_Diagram_Cost_Estimates

One of the most powerful aspects of using Hava as part of your cloud management, build pipelines or DevOps strategy is that the software keeps track of any changes detected in your Azure infrastructure automatically.

Had you draw Azure diagrams yourself instead of automating the process, updating the diagrams to keep them accurate and up to date would be an even more times consuming exercise and you probably have better things to do.

Because the update process is automatic, once a configuration change is detected, a new diagram set is spawned and the superseded diagram set is placed in the version history.  You can select an older version to view and it remains fully interactive, not just a static diagram), so you can select resources, inspect their attributes and settings just as you can on the live diagrams.

Hava_Versions

You now have the ability to selecting an older diagram from version history, so you can pull up the older version in a separate browser and compare current azure infrastructure diagrams side-by-side. This makes it easy to visually detect the differences and get to the root cause of application or performance issues when they occur.

You can also export your current and superseded auto generated Azure diagrams in JSON format and Diff the files to programmatically surface all the changes .

All the interactive diagrams are exportable in a number of formats.

Export_Microsoft_Azure_Diagram

There are currently no mechanisms within Hava to draw diagrams from scratch or to add or remove resource elements.  Hava diagrams are designed to always reflect the source of truth at any point in time.  You can alway be confident that what you are looking at on a Hava diagram reflects reality because there is no way to manually add or remove diagram elements and resources.

We do however appreciate that sometimes you would like to use a diagram as a starting point for some redesign work, or you would like to annotate a diagram to explain elements of the diagram for various reasons, like in management or sales presentations.

Auto Draw Azure Diagrams for Visio

The Hava VSDX export option is the solution, enabling you to export your Azure infrastructure diagrams in Microsoft Visio format.  You can then use Visio or a compatible application to import the diagram for manipulation.

Edit_Azure_Diagram_With_Drawio 

This provides the flexibility of editable diagrams while also maintaining the integrity of the diagrams and data held natively within Hava, so you have an unquestionable source of truth reference during a PCI compliance, Insurance or other type of audit.

Because you have the ability to manually sync your data sources within Hava, you can always guarantee you have a "live" version of your network whenever you need it.

Azure Network Diagrams

On top of the standard infrastructure and 3D diagrams, there are two more diagrams in the Azure Visualization diagram set that are produced automatically by Hava.

The extended infrastructure view is similar to the infrastructure view, however it adds some more metadata to the diagram like full resource names and resource sizes.

The other diagram is the "List View".  This report is, as the name suggests, a list of all the resources discovered in your environment.

This includes elements that are not visualised on the diagrams.  Some resources may have dozens or hundreds of reasonably unimportant instances like network interfaces or virtual machine extensions, which if visualised would make the diagrams unreadable.

The list view is where you can find these resources.  The resource list can be filtered, sorted by name, type or price and exported to CSV for easy import into a spreadsheet for cost analysis.

Azure List View 800x600 

The visualised resources are detailed below. The elements in the attributes column signify that they are not displayed on the infrastructure diagrams but do appear in the list view.

Visualised

Attributes

Application Gateway

Availability Set

Express Route

Load Balancer

Local Network Gateway

Network Interface

Network Security Group

Public IP

Redis Cache

Resource Group

Route Table

SQL Server

Storage Account

Subnet

Virtual Machine

Virtual Machine Extension

Virtual Machine Scale Set

Virtual Network

Virtual Network Gateway

Virtual Network Peering

 
 
Hava provides a fast, efficient and accurate method of producing and maintaining your Azure cloud network topology diagrams automatically, providing you better internal communications, the ability to surface resources you may not have known were running and to be able to respond to events and outages using a safe repository of network configuration history. Hava also polls your settings continuously and updates your diagrams when changes are detected, providing always up to date hands-free Azure Infrastructure diagrams.
 
 
If you are not using Hava yet to document your Azure cloud environments, you are welcome to try a 14 day free trial, absolutely no obligation or pressure and no credit card required to sign up.
 

 

Team Hava

Written by Team Hava

The Hava content team

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