Why You Should Visualize Your Cloud Infrastructure | Lucidchart Blog
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Cloud computing can offer an organization many benefits—it can lower operating costs, support faster innovation, allow employees to access data and applications from anywhere in the world, and help you scale your business. And that’s just for starters.

If you’re reading this post, you—along with the majority of businesses, since RightScale reports that 96% of survey respondents use the cloud in some form or another—have probably already reaped the benefits of cloud computing. But even with all of these advantages, understanding and communicating your cloud infrastructure to others is no small task.

At Lucidchart, we believe that working visually can improve communication and workflows for many roles—and that includes those who build and maintain cloud infrastructure. See the benefits you’ll gain from visualizing your cloud infrastructure.

Understanding the current state

Although this line may have become cliché, “you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” It’s impossible to optimize and improve your cloud infrastructure if you don’t understand it in its current state. With a cloud infrastructure diagram, you can see your instances at a glance so you can find areas to optimize.

But you likely aren’t the only one who could use a visual representation of your current cloud architecture. For example, you could give a diagram to engineers who need to understand what type of applications they can develop in your ecosystem. Visuals can easily provide visibility into an ever-changing platform, whether other teams need a 10,000-foot overview or every instance labeled out.

If you use AWS and need a quick visual of your infrastructure, Lucidchart offers an AWS architecture import so you can generate a completed network diagram automatically.

AWS VPC
AWS VPC (Click on image to modify online)

Planning the future state

Whether you are a consultant or work in-house as an architect, cloud engineer, or DevOps manager, laying out your cloud infrastructure will help you increase personal clarity before you start making changes and also communicate changes to gain buy-in from others.

In Lucidchart, you can build off your current state diagram to envision changes for the future. Lucidchart includes shape libraries for AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure—plus you can build out custom shapes for frequently used service combos—to quick-start your diagram. Use layers and actions to toggle between what your cloud infrastructure currently looks like and how you plan to optimize. With these interactive features, you can clearly communicate your recommendations for faster approval.

Once you get approval, you can build the infrastructure faster and more efficiently with the visual as your guide. If you work with another team to actually create the infrastructure, visuals will simplify the process—architects can easily pass the cloud infrastructure diagram off to an engineer or implementation team.

GCP architecture
GCP Architecture: Websites > Dynamic Hosting (Click on image to modify online)

 

Microsoft Azure basic web application
Microsoft Azure: Basic Web Application (Click on image to modify online)

Troubleshooting

If you or another department needs to troubleshoot an issue, you can easily identify issues and affected areas when you visualize your cloud infrastructure. Network diagrams help you find the root of the problem and resolve those issues quickly to keep your organization running smoothly and avoid losing revenue.

Again in this instance, visuals can quickly communicate your cloud infrastructure to other people. Many companies use shared infrastructure between teams, so teams within your department might need an understanding of infrastructure that they don’t have access to. Or as you troubleshoot an issue, your cloud service provider (Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform Services, etc.) might ask for documentation of the infrastructure.

In Lucidchart, you can even link data and apply conditional formatting to create a dynamic visual dashboard that monitors the performance of your cloud instances.

GCP dashboard
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Dashboard (Click on image to modify online)

 

AWS dashboard in Lucidchart
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Dashboard (Click on image to modify online)

Demonstrating compliance

The growing number of companies moving to the cloud has not been lost on those who enforce security standards—in 2013, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) released specific guidelines on how to secure customer payment data in the cloud, and in 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services followed suit with HIPAA cloud computing guidelines.

As your company moves sensitive data into the cloud, you will be responsible for protecting that data and demonstrating compliance of top security standards. Cloud infrastructure diagrams show where data is stored and transmitted so you can prove that you have followed PCI, HIPAA, SOC, and other security guidelines. These diagrams may even be required as part of your audit.

Lucidchart makes it simple to share cloud infrastructure diagrams—you can provide a direct link with edit, comment-only, or read-only access to the document or export the diagram to include with other documentation that demonstrates compliance.

Onboarding new team members

Finally, as others join your team, you can use visuals to educate them on your cloud infrastructure and bring them up to speed quickly.

In Lucidchart, you can not only build cloud infrastructure diagrams for your team to reference but you can also publish these diagrams on your company intranet or on popular apps like Confluence. Take advantage of our integrations to include visuals within the applications that your team uses daily—with easy-to-reference visuals in a centralized location, your team can be more self-sufficient during the onboarding process or when they have questions.

As you build, optimize, maintain, and communicate your cloud infrastructure, remember to think visually. Sign up for Lucidchart to simplify the process of building complex technical diagrams and easily share those visuals for increased understanding.