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Microsoft Azure Diagrams

June 24, 2021

Microsoft Azure Diagrams

When you are working with Azure cloud computing infrastructure, there are many benefits to creating and maintaining accurate Microsoft Azure diagrams.

You can effectively communicate your Azure network design to both technical engineering staff and also management where necessary.  If you are onboarding new engineers, or engaging external consultants, you can bring them up to speed very quickly with a well laid out infrastructure diagram.

If you are taking on a new client or project, having access to infrastructure documentation is a massive advantage when trying to understand exactly what is running where. Back in our cloud consulting days, diagramming a new client's infrastructure was always the first job in the induction process. It was often time consuming, laborious but necessary in establishing exactly what was going on prior to starting work on improving or redesigning infrastructure.

If you have spent way too many hours manually creating Azure network diagrams to keep control of your network design, then you can also appreciate how much time is saved and how many errors are eliminated when you fully automate the infrastructure diagramming process.

Automated Microsoft Azure Diagrams

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

Azure Architecture Diagram

Connecting Hava to your Microsoft Azure account so that your network topology diagrams can be automatically generated is a relatively simple process.

To import your environment resources from Microsoft Azure, you will need to access your Azure Portal at https://portal.azure.com

You then create a new Service Principle and retrieve a set of credentials to connect to Hava.

To do this, open the Azure Portal and launch PowerShell from the top menu bar :

Azure Power Shell

 

From the command line create a new Service Principal.

In this example we use "HavaServicePrincipal"

$sp = New-AzADServicePrincipal -DisplayName HavaServicePrincipal

Getting Started Microsoft Azure Diagrams

Then assign "read only" permissions to it via a "Reader" role assignment.

New-AzRoleAssignment -ApplicationId $sp.ApplicationId -RoleDefinitionName "Reader"

Microsoft Azure Diagrams Azure Connection

Then decrypt the Secret Key ($password)

Decrypt the Password

$Ptr = [System.Runtime.InteropServices.Marshal]::SecureStringToCoTaskMemUnicode($sp.Secret) $password = [System.Runtime.InteropServices.Marshal]::PtrToStringUni($Ptr)

You will now be able to retrieve the following credentials to plug into Hava to connect your data source.

You now have the credentials to login!

  • Subscription ID: (Get-AzContext).Subscription.Id

  • Tenant ID: (Get-AzContext).Tenant.Id

  • Client ID: $sp.ApplicationId

  • Secret: $password

Getting Started Azure Secret
 

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

Azure Hava Add Environment
 

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

Azure Environment Import

 

You may at this point optionally name the connection. Hava will import your Microsoft Azure environment, layout the diagram and add the environment tile to the Hava dashboard.

From this point Hava will periodically sync with your Azure configuration and detect any discovered changes. When changes are detected a new diagram is created and the superseded diagram is placed into a fully interactive version history, so you always have an accurate visual representation of your Azure Environment whenever required.

Azure Network Topology Diagram

The Microsoft Azure diagrams produced are laid out by resource group which typically contain 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 the diagram.

Connections and resource names can be toggled on or off depending on your preference. The resource names appear under the diagram icons when enabled.

This keeps your Azure environment diagram clean, however this allows you to select the interactive elements of the diagram, like a virtual network, subnet or individual resources like  load balancers, gateways, virtual machines, peering connections and storage accounts. When you select a resource on the diagram, all the metadata and settings are displayed to the right hand side of  the diagram in the attribute pane.  The metadata and settings are contextual to the currently selected element.

With nothing selected on the diagram, the attribute pane displays information about the entire Azure environment including a usage cost estimate.

Azure_Environment_Diagram_Cost_Estimates

 

Azure 3D Diagrams

Your Azure diagram can also be rendered into 3D with flexible rotate controls, skew, zoom and overhead controls, whilst the elements on the diagram remain selectable so that the attribute pane displays information related to the currently selected resource or network segment.

Azure_3D_Diagram

While the 3D view provides no additional information in addition to the traditional 2D view, it does provide an interesting aesthetic, especially for management and boardroom presentations, plus it looks kinda cool.

Versioning is one of the most powerful aspects of using Hava as part of your build pipeline or cloud toolkit. Hava keeps track of the changes detected in your Microsoft Azure infrastructure via continuous automated polling of your Azure configuration.

Once a change is detected, a new diagram is created and the superseded diagram is placed in the Hava version history.  At any time, you can select older versions to view and they remain fully interactive, not just a static diagram. You can click into resources, inspect attributes and settings abd view in extended infrastructure and 3D just as you can on the live diagrams.

Hava_Versions

If you are trying to diagnose a network problem or change that has caused you applications to fail, selecting an older diagram set, you can pull up the older version in a separate browser and compare current diagrams side-by-side so you can visually detect the differences.

If your environments are large or complex, you can also export current and superseded diagrams in JSON format and Diff the files to surface all the changed resources and settings .

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

Export_Microsoft_Azure_Diagram

Can you edit Hava Diagrams?

There is currently no way within Hava to draw diagrams from scratch or to add or remove elements.  This is because native 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 the Hava diagram accurately reflects reality. This is because there is no way to add or remove diagram elements, resources and metadata that could lead to confusion or mis-represent the state of the network during a security or compliance audit for instance.

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

To facilitate that scenario, Hava provides:

Azure Diagrams for Visio

The VSDX export option is the solution that enables you to export your Microsoft Azure infrastructure diagrams in Visio format.  You can then use Visio or a compatible application like draw.io (diagrams.net) to import the diagram for manipulation.

Edit_Azure_Diagram_With_Drawio 

This provides exported editable diagrams while also maintaining the integrity of the diagrams and data held within the Hava ecosystem, so you have an unquestionable source of truth reference retained within your Hava account for use during a PCI compliance, Insurance, security or other type of audit.

Microsoft Azure Network Diagrams

On top of the standard infrastructure and 3D diagrams, there are two more diagrams for Azure that are automatically produced by simply connecting your Azure account to Hava.

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

The final Azure diagram is the "List View" . This diagram is more like a report and as the name suggests, is a list which contains of all the resources discovered in your environment.

This includes elements discovered in your data source that are not visualised on the diagrams.  Some resources may have dozens of unimportant instances like network interfaces or virtual machine extensions, which add very little to the understanding of how the network is constructed and which if visualised could make the diagrams difficult to read.

The list view is where you can find these resources.  The list can be filtered, sorted by name, type or price and exported to CSV for easy import into a spreadsheet that can be used for cost analysis. The list view also includes the resources that are visualized on the infrastructure view.

Azure_Azure_Resources_List 

The visualised Microsoft Azure Diagram resources are detailed below. 

Visualised

Not Visualised

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.io provides a fast, efficient and accurate method of generating and maintaining your Microsoft 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.io also polls your settings continuously and automatically 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.
 
Try Hava For Free Today!

 

Team Hava

Written by Team Hava

The Hava content team

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