Cloud architecture diagrams are essential for visualizing the often complex infrastructure that exists within your cloud architecture. Learn the basics of cloud architecture diagrams, as well as cloud environments and cloud service providers, to better understand what you need in your cloud services.
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What are cloud architecture diagrams?
Cloud architecture diagrams are used to document the various components and relationships within a cloud computing architecture. Keeping track of all the moving parts within a cloud environment can be daunting, but a visual record of your cloud architecture can help you visualize its current state, make plans for future states, and troubleshoot issues within the cloud.
Platforms like Lucidchart make it easy for cloud engineers, cloud architects, and DevOps managers to construct, maintain, and even auto-generate cloud architectures quickly and easily. With up-to-date documentation of your cloud architecture on hand, you can share important key governance data with stakeholders and demonstrate cloud compliance for certification.
What is cloud architecture?
To put it simply, a cloud is an IT environment that allows users to access and share the same scalable resources across a network.
Cloud architecture is the blueprint by which individual components and technologies fit together to deliver an online platform.
Benefits of migrating to the cloud can include:
- Reduced operating costs for an organization.
- Support and utilization of rapid innovation.
- Easier adaption to scaling of the business.
- Heightened advanced network security.
- Easier access for stakeholders to important files and applications from anywhere.
With all of the components that make up a cloud’s infrastructure, understanding and maintaining your cloud architecture, let alone communicating it to others, can be difficult. This is where a visualization of your cloud architecture can come in handy. Not only can an up-to-date cloud architecture diagram provide valuable documentation of your cloud environment during incident response or when you need to describe current state to others, but it can help you maintain and optimize your cloud structure.
Cloud architecture components
A basic cloud architecture is made up of a few basic components, including:
- Cloud resources: Physical or virtual resources a cloud provider makes available to a cloud user
- On-prem resources: The software and technology located on an organization’s physical premises
- Middleware: Software that bridges a database or operating system to an application
- Software components and services: Individual parts of a system or application
Types of cloud services
There are four different types of cloud services. Each uses their own unique method of cloud architecture.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): System in which software is hosted and accessed via the Internet rather than installed on a computer
- Development as a Service (DaaS): Computing model involving an outsourced virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI); sometimes referred to as hosted desktop services
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): System where hardware and software tools needed for application development are delivered via a third party
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Computing infrastructure such as servers and storage devices are managed and furnished by a third party
Types of cloud environments
While all cloud environments provide virtualized processing and storage capabilities, individual cloud environments differ significantly in how they’re hosted, implemented, and accessed by users. There are four main types of cloud environments:
A public cloud computing service offered by a third-party provider, available to anyone over the public Internet. Companies like Google and Amazon offer public clouds, which can include both individual services and infrastructures to users based on need. Public clouds are extremely versatile; however, cloud providers maintain full control over the cloud environment, so users must adapt to the platform’s structure and functionality.
A private cloud is used by a single organization, usually behind some type of firewall, and can only be accessed by authorized users. Private clouds offer ultimate control of the cloud environment and are typically more secure than a public cloud, but they do have their downsides. Organizations are responsible for providing and maintaining their own software and infrastructure, which can be costly. They also rely on physical storage and computing capacity, so expansion is not always a smooth process.
A hybrid cloud is a combination of a private and a public cloud. It’s designed to allow data and applications to move seamlessly between the two cloud types, with the security of a private cloud and the computing capabilities of a public cloud. They’re most commonly used for industries with strict security regulations that also work with unstructured data from a wide variety of sources.
A multi-cloud model combines a private cloud with multiple public clouds from different providers. This model works especially well for enterprise-level organizations whose individual departments require different types of cloud environments. Since this model isn’t reliant on a single cloud provider, it can be a cost-efficient and flexible solution, especially when rapid expansion is necessary.
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Types of cloud service providers
Users can choose from several leading cloud providers from around the world. Each cloud provider offers a unique platform and a diverse set of services.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon Web Services offers a wide range of functionality for your AWS architecture needs, including database storage, content delivery, and compute power. AWS is designed to meet most cloud computing needs at the highest level of security possible.
Microsoft Azure cloud services include compute power, data management, CDN, and mobile services, among others. It’s ideal for users looking to build, test, and manage any type of application or service.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
GCP supports networking, data transfer, compute power, collaborative working tools, database storage, and more. Its platform is built for agile businesses who want easy scalability and full data ownership.
Oracle Cloud provides middleware, storage, servers, and other applications and services through their data centers. Its on-demand services are easily customizable, allowing users to match their cloud services to their requirements.
IBM Cloud supports both public and private cloud environments and offers both PaaS and IaaS. Their cloud services include compute power, storage, IoT, data and analytics, mobile, and more.
Alibaba Cloud services range from real-time data processing and analytics to storage and security. Its hybrid capability allows for flexibility and a high degree of scalability.
Huawei’s features include networking, application middleware, database, anti-DDoS, storage, and more. They’re aimed at providing users with secure and sustainable cloud services.
Tencent’s services cover a wide range of needs, including compute power, data storage, and security. They offer a diverse array of advanced management and developer tools, as well as game services.
Factors for designing your cloud architecture
When considering what kind of cloud-based system you want to implement, there are a few factors you’ll want to keep in mind:
Make sure you understand your site or application’s requirements before you begin customizing your cloud architecture, particularly if you’re thinking of using a hybrid or multi-cloud model. Keep your system as simple as possible—the more complicated your system, the harder it will be to build and maintain.
Before you invest in your application, make sure you’re clear on your cloud infrastructure’s pricing models. Private and hybrid models will vary in price due to the difference in cost of communications between servers within the same cloud and servers in different clouds.
Security is a top priority when implementing any cloud environment—different cloud types will present different challenges. There’s a substantial learning curve that comes with securing a private cloud, and hybrid and multi-cloud systems may require data encryption or VPN technology to protect your information.
One of the benefits of working in the cloud is controlling the speed or latency of your site or application. Based on your application’s needs, you may need to launch various instance types.
While cloud provider tools like load balancing and database services are easy to use, they require you to modify your architecture if it comes time to move that tier of your architecture to another cloud provider. Cloud agnostic tools can help you ensure that your cloud is easily portable.
Cloud architecture diagram template examples
Check out the templates below to get an idea for which cloud architecture diagram you’ll want to use to visualize your cloud architecture.
Template example of AWS cloud architecture for PCI compliance
This AWS diagram template lets you determine how to design and review your cloud architecture to best comply with PCI standards. Check out Lucidchart Cloud Insights to auto-generate your AWS diagram instead of manually constructing your diagram.
Template example of Azure cloud architecture via VPN
This Azure architecture diagram template is ideal for visualizing a basic cloud architecture from a VPN. To save time building your Azure diagram, auto-generate your Azure diagram with Lucidchart Cloud Insights.
Template example of GCP architecture with cost estimates
This simple GCP cloud diagram template uses linked data to depict estimated costs. With Lucidchart Cloud Insights, you can easily auto-generate your GCP cloud diagram, saving you valuable time and energy.