6 min read

Top 20 Uses for Cloud Architecture Documentation

November 4, 2020


No one needs network documentation, until they do. 

The ability to understand existing cloud infrastructure, communicating the state of play with internal and external stakeholders and quickly responding to unexpected events are all well known reasons to keep on top of your cloud documentation.

There are also some less obvious, but equally important reasons to maintain an up to date set of cloud infrastructure documentation. Let's take a look at some of the top reasons to document and automate your cloud network topology.

1. Visualize exactly what is running

Auto generating your cloud infrastructure instead of manually drawing your cloud diagrams ensures that you are seeing exactly what is configured and running VS what was designed or expected.

2. Bring external consultants up to speed fast

With the growing popularity of cloud infrastructure and the increased complexity of available technology options, the chances are you may need to engage external consultants to work on your infrastructure. Providing a complete set of up to date documentation will accelerate the process of bringing your consultants up to speed on your current network configuration saving them days or weeks and saving you a large chunk of consulting fees.

3. Identify Rogue Resources

It is very rare for infrastructure to remain in the state that it was originally designed. For instance, better storage options or services come along that when adopted, supersede infrastructure components that can easily be left running, even though they are not in use.

Likewise old development infrastructure or unused staging environments can hang around for a lot longer than is practical. A set of automatically generated diagrams can and will surface these unused but potentially expensive resources.

4. Facilitate good Communication Between Stake-holders

 A picture paints a thousand words, so they say.  A well laid out infrastructure diagram can paint a thousand cloud console settings. 

Visualizing your cloud infrastructure easily allows your management, engineering team, security team and external consultants to understand how your network is configured no matter what level of technical ability they posess.

5. Comply with PCI compliance

When processing sensitive credit card transactions, you need to be able to demonstrate the security of your network design to pass a PCI compliance audit.  Having network documentation and historical versions that can demonstrate the state of your network topology at any point in time is critical to the compliance and audit process.

6. Troubleshoot Network Bugs

Whether you're responsible for your own network or have been called in to diagnose problems for a client, a clear, concise and accurate up to date set of documentation will greatly assist in that process.

7. Continuity when key technical staff leave

Just like a great set of standard operating procedure documents assists any business with staff transitions, a detailed set of network topology documentation ensures your technical IP doesn't disappear with the departing staff member and the incoming replacement can quickly understand what you have running.

8. Identify problematic configuration changes

Despite to most rigorous testing, sometimes configuration changes don't go to plan. Being able to establish what changed and when it changed can cut incident resolution down to minutes instead of days or weeks. Having a full set of diagrams retained in a version history allows you to identify what changed so you can pinpoint the cause and implement a resolution.

9. Quickly identify resources by tag

When you utilise tags to segment your infrastructure by project, application or even client in an MSP scenario, trying to find all the associated resources in your cloud console can be difficult and time consuming.  Using the search/query filter within Hava, it is possible to create custom diagrams containing all the resources with a specific tag.  Prefixing the query with a deep search operator, will build a diagram with all tagged resources and everything connected to those resources.

10. Inspect traffic ingress / egress

One of the basic tasks of any network security team is to control how traffic enters and exits your network. Hava's AWS security view visualizes your security groups and open ports to instantly understand potential vulnerabilities.

11. Visualize Hybrid Networks

Cloud vendors are continuously releasing new services or providing resources with a competitive edge that encourage clients to integrate network components from multiple vendors resulting in a Hybrid Cloud solution.  Hava provides the ability to connect multiple cloud accounts to Hava and using the custom diagram feature produce hybrid diagram sets that include the infrastructure from each cloud vendor on the one diagram.

12. Breakdown Cost Estimates by Resource

Hava diagrams contain cost estimates at a resource level. Which means you can click on a resource on the diagram and get a cost estimate for the resource.   Using the "List View" you can easily see all configured resources and sort them by cost to see your most expensive resources.  Simply export the list to CSV or spreadsheet to answer finance department questions in a language they understand.

13. Onboard new engineers faster

Whether coming in cold, or joining a team, providing a new engineer with a clear, concise set of documentation gets them up to speed and productive a lot faster than verbal or written explanations or pointing them at the consoles to work it out.

14. Governance and Insurance

In the event your network integrity or security is challenged or subject to legal issues or insurance audits, having automatically generated diagrams that can't be manually manipulated provides proof of exactly how your network and network security was configured. The version history retained by Hava allows you to pull up your network configuration at any point in time since connecting your data sources.

15. Eliminate bloated disorganised documentation

Auto generating diagrams and documentation not only saves a massive amount of time, it also removes the need for bloated and potentially disorganised documentation across multiple platforms. If like Hava, your documentation is interactive, then there is no need to document all the attributes & console settings for each resource.

16. Isolate projects on shared infrastructure

It's not uncommon for cloud accounts to host multiple projects or applications or for MSPs to host multiple customer applications on a single cloud account. Hava's custom diagram builder makes it easy to isolate projects via a number of search options that segregate projects and resources from the same cloud account onto separate diagram sets.

17. Migration

Sometimes for cost, performance or resource considerations, you may decide to migrate an application from one cloud provider to another. If moving between AWS, Azure or GCP, you can collate disparate network documentation onto one diagram to assist with the migration process.

18. Cloud Re-architecting

Firmly in the realm of the consulting industry, re-architecting a client network starts with mapping the current network prior to suggesting improvements.  This can take a massive amount of time and resources if attempted manually. Automated documentation like Hava reduces time required and improves the diagram accuracy of this process.

19. Fault Tolerance and Redundancy

Getting a helicopter view of your cloud infrastructure allows a well trained eye to immediately spot redundancy issues.  Should a cloud vendor data centre experience an outage and an entire region has an outage, will your application stay online?

20. Verify migration or build accuracy

According to Robert Burns, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry".  A well architected network design or migration is only as good as the execution.  Auto generating a set of diagrams post deployment depicts exactly what was built and is running, so you can compare that to the plan to ensure your infrastructure and security has been implemented as expected. Something that can only be truly achieved using automated documentation.




Hopefully you're already across all the items in this list.  If you primarily work with AWS, GCP or Azure cloud infrastructure and would like to take a look at how Hava.io has all the above covered we invite you to take a free 14 day trial to try it for yourself.

If you still have questions, or would like to arrange a 1:1 screen share live demo, please use the chat widget below to get in touch.  Hava is the perfect cloud diagramming application when looking for a cloudcraft, lucidchart or arcentry alternative


Team Hava

Written by Team Hava

The Hava content team