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Break the cycle of poorly maintained infrastructure diagrams

James Lane
October 12, 2023

The cycle

Diagrams can tell a story that is often complex and hard to understand by viewing consoles or CLI's. But for many developers and engineers they are often an afterthought.

And for good reason, producing and maintaining hand-drawn diagrams is time consuming and doesn't scale. They often become forgotten about as system changes get deployed.

So they remain ignored until you need them. Often during an important event such as an outage, incident, or in the lead up to a compliance audit.

And the response is often a flurry of activity. Making up for the lack of maintenance by redrawing diagrams at the expense of more business critical tasks.

Which works as a solution, until inevitably more changes are made and you find yourself back at the beginning of the cycle.

How to break it?

One answer would be to stop using diagrams. But as we've already said when we can see our infrastructure it becomes a lot easier to tell its story. Understanding the impact of changes becomes simpler and onboarding new teams and new starters becomes quicker.

So instead of discarding them or adding yet another single source of truth that doesn't get maintained. A better answer would be to generate diagrams as or when we need them. Removing human reliance and giving you the confidence that what you are seeing is accurate.

The best part about this approach is it requires no assumptions. Which means you can explore the components that make your systems work, without needing to know what you're looking for in advance. Or even if those resources are linked.

Meaning that you will have the confidence to make a change knowing that it will not have any unintended impact.

Starting with a single resource

In Overmind, you can start by searching a specific resource or listing all available. Once you have searched your resource you can then expand the link depth to further discover other related resources.

We can see all all the various resources that are connected to our EC2 instance.

From here we can then check the meta information to see granular information about the resource.

To easily return to a query when you need to use it or to see if any changes have occurred just bookmark it.

Ensure poorly maintained diagrams are a thing of the past. Overmind is now available to try for free. Get started by signing up and creating an account here.

How could you use this?

- Generate a architecture diagram for that one app that everyone is afraid of.

- Automatically enforce architecture standards.

- Get notified when these diagrams change.

- Automatically attach relevant diagrams every time you get paged.

- Onboard & handover quicker and easier.

Have a better idea? Come tell us on discord.


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