5 Things You Need to Know to Draw Better AWS Diagrams


Pascal Bonheur

October 2019 – Reviewed September 2022

Creating quality AWS (Amazon Web Services) diagrams is no walk in the park. Of course, you can create small diagrams with basic components like an EC2 Instance, a few S3 Buckets, and a VPC. However, when it comes to creating a diagram of your complete AWS account, it’s a whole new ball game. Multiple factors can affect the complexity of your AWS architecture diagrams.

    • Who is going to use the AWS diagram?
    • A network specialist will probably be interested in seeing VPCs and ACLs; a storage specialist will be more interested in S3 Buckets.
    • How do you display a wide variety of components?
    • You want to minimize the number of crossing arrows and optimize the shape layout.
    • Does your diagram match what is actually deployed in your AWS account?
    • Your AWS cloud architecture is continually changing.

Here are a few hints to draw outstanding AWS diagrams and impress your stakeholders!

1. Keep Dependent AWS Resources Close to Each Other

This one is quite obvious because it is a natural way of creating diagrams. For example, we place the Elastic Load Balancer near the EC2 instance, which is also needed for the S3 storage bucket. Typically, we also create layered diagrams: one layer for all the Elastic Load Balancers and a separate layer for the networking components, like VPC and Route 53.

The diagram above is easy to read because it respects the following best practices:

  • Layered AWS architecture diagrams
    1. The first layer contains the Elastic Load Balancers since the load balancer is the first component hit by user requests
    2. The networking components, with VPC and Network Interfaces
    3. You draw the Compute Instances
    4. On the last layer, the storage is displayed
  • Related components are grouped.
    • As you can see below, storage related to the Compute instance are kept close to each other, which decreases the number of crossing arrows

2. Add Data to the Shapes to Make your AWS Diagrams More Relevant

A good AWS architecture diagram provides an accurate overview of the components in your accounts and shows where the dependencies are. It also saves you the hassle of reviewing the documentation every time you need more details.

Most well-known diagramming tools allow you to add data to your shapes. Here are screenshots from diagrams.net and Visio that show how to add data.

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3. Create Multiple AWS Diagrams with Different Groupings

It is crucial to adapt your diagrams to your stakeholders. The best way to achieve this is to find different ways to group your shapes and experiment with the level of detail. For example, if you draw a diagram for your network specialist, you should probably include networking details.

If you are an application specialist and want to display your components (including some related to VPC), you should draw something like this.

4. Work with Powerful Diagram Tools

For convenience, we recommend using a well-established AWS diagramming tool that your staff is already familiar with. Here’s why:

    • There is no need to acquire new expertise
    • These tools focus on diagrams and have plenty of neat features, like shapes data, layering, exporting, and conditional formatting
    • There is no need to purchase new licenses as your staff is already using the tool
    • The diagrams you generate are easily shareable as they are using well know diagrams standards

5. Keep Your AWS Diagrams up to Date

Inaccurate or outdated AWS infrastructure diagrams present a serious risk as your stakeholders rely on them to make key decisions regarding strategy, cost management, and security.

But drawing AWS diagrams manually to keep track of your ever-changing cloud architecture can feel like an uphill battle. This approach is indeed time-consuming, and error-prone, and makes it nearly impossible to get a clear, accurate, and up-to-date overview of your assets.

This is where Cloudockit is a game changer, as it automatically generates your AWS architecture diagrams, saving you time and money.

Never miss updates or security breaches by having Cloudockit automatically refresh your diagrams. After you modify your AWS diagrams, Cloudockit will update the metadata of each shape without making any changes to your previous edits. If new components are detected during the scan, they will be automatically added to your diagrams.

Use Cloudockit to Automatically Draw AWS Diagrams

With Cloudockit, you will never have to draw cloud architecture diagrams by hand again. You can now easily visualize your Amazon cloud architecture in a matter of minutes and stop worrying about missing vulnerabilities, compliance/security issues, misconfigurations, and cost overruns.

Cloudockit automatically generates diagrams with standard layouts, icons and shape data widely used by cloud architects. It also gives you the flexibility to edit your AWS infrastructure diagrams with Visio, diagrams.net (draw.io), and Lucidchart.

With our tailored diagrams, you can conveniently determine the layout of your AWS components based on the different links discovered. You also have the flexibility to save your preferred diagram settings as templates for ready access. To further simplify the process, Cloudockit automatically lists all the component types detected.

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