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Victor Dorneanu
Victor Dorneanu

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Documentation as Code for Cloud


As a Security Architect, my role encompasses reviewing existing architectures as well as designing brand new ones from scratch. The opportunity to apply Security principles during the design phase and develop an entirely new infrastructure with Security as the core focus is truly exceptional.

Designing a secure cloud architecture is not only vital for achieving scalability, reliability, and compliance with regulations. It allows businesses to optimize their cloud infrastructure while maintaining the highest levels of data security.

Being able to prototype and visualize a draft for the upcoming architecture will greatly support making thought-out decisions. In this blog post, I will present some technologies and tools that I have come across.

What to design

First let’s define the cornerstones for the architecture we would like to design. For the sake of simplicity and because I am most familiar with it, we will be using AWS.

In order to have a concrete example, let’s implement a self-destructing Email service that allows users to send self-destructing emails a la “Mission Impossible” 😎. The software architecture for the self-destructing email service consists of following components:

  • Frontend

    Handles user interactions and provides general UI for composing and sending the emails. Web but also mobile apps should be supported.

  • Authentication and Access Control

    Ensures that only authorized users can access the service and send self-destructing emails.

  • Message Lifetime Management

    Manages the lifespan of the self-destructing emails. It also tracks the time of the email creation and sets and expiration period after which the email will be automatically be deleted (or made inaccessible).

  • Data storage

    The email service requires a backend data storage system to store email metadata (sender, recipients, subject, expiration details). The email content can be stored encrypted using a cloud storage system.

  • Notification

    Handles the delivery of self-destructing email notifications to recipients. It can use email, SMS or push notifications to alert recipients about the received email and that it will self-destruct after a period of time.

  • Expiration and Deletion

    Once the specified lifetime of the email has expired, this component is responsible for permanently deleting the email content and the associated metadata from the storage system.

  • Logging and Auditing

    Records essential information, such as email creation, delivery and any access attempts. This helps with identifying potential security breaches or tracking email history.

Let’s add more complexity and use microservicesalong with AWS EKS. The infrastructure for the self-destructing email service, using AWS and EKS could consist of following components:

  • 🗳 EKS Cluster

    Use the cluster to manage the containarized microservices.

  • 🧰 Microservices

    Let's briefly outline some microservices and their responsibilities:

    • Frontend

      This includes the containerized frontend component as a microservice. It handles user interactions and API calls against backend.

    • Message Lifetime Management

      Containerize the message lifetime management functionality as a microservice, which tracks the email creation time, sets expiration periods and triggers the deletion of expired emails.

    • Notification Service

      Containerize the notification functionality as a microservice, responsible for sending out notifications to recipients about the self-destructing emails received.

  • 🛡 API Gateway

    Allow API access (for frontend and other clients) through a single endpoint and implement all Security controls (e.g. authentication, authorization) at this layer.

  • 🪣 Data Storage

    Utilize AWS managed services like Amazon RDS for storing email metadata, Amazon S3 or Amazon EFS for storing email content and attachments, and Amazon DynamoDB for tracking email history.

  • 📊 Logging and Monitoring

    Use AWS CloudWatch for logging and monitoring the infrastructure, microservices, and application health.

From an organizational point of view there will be multiple organizational units (OUs) which include tech, devops and security.

Within each organizational unit, there will be multiple accounts. This allows us to have different deployment environments such as production (prod) and development (dev).

Draft using pen & paper

👉 Cloud Architecture using pen & paper


As described above, there will be multiple organizational units. I did not include any accounts on paper, as doing so would have overcomplicated the entire drawing:

  • OU: Tech

    This will host the EKS cluster as well as the API Gateway which serves as the main entrypoint for API calls.

  • OU: Security

    This is where alert & monitoring will take place. Also here relevant data to the mail will be stored within S3 buckets. Finally we use IAM capabilities to make sure authentication and authorization works properly.

  • OU: DevOps

    The CI/CD build pipeline and infrastructure provisioning will take place here. The software artefacts will be built here and deployed into the accounts inside "OU: Tech".


In the next post, I’ll show how to draw the architecture using PlantUML.

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