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Resoto Search 101

· 4 min read
Matthias Veit
Some Engineer

Retrieving information about resources you have deployed in your Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure means tediously navigating the AWS Management Console or using the AWS Command Line Interface. This approach works well in a single account setup, but best practice is to set up a multi-account environment. And as the number of accounts grows, navigating your infrastructure and finding resources via the Console or the CLI becomes increasingly difficult.

Furthermore, the relationships between your resources are also relevant: an EBS volume is mounted to an EC2 instance running in a VPC and reachable via an ALB load balancer, for example. Developers create resources using tools such as Terraform, CDK, or CloudFormation… or sometimes even the console or CLI. How can you see everything that is running in your cloud?

Left: Sheep Spinning Up Cloud Resources; Right: Confused Sheep with Abacus

We created Resoto to allow the user to effortlessly search resources and automate jobs. Resoto gathers data about your infrastructure and builds a directed acyclic graph, where resources are vertices and their relationships/dependencies edges. This graph is what makes Resoto so powerful, but we needed a way to allow users to query this data.

Graph data is not relational, so SQL was not a good fit. And existing graph query languages like Cypher, Gremlin, or GSQL have steep learning curves and are unnecessarily complex for this use case.

And so, we developed our own search syntax tailored specifically for Resoto. The Resoto Shell allows you to interact with your Resoto installation. In particular, it provides a search command.

Let's try searching for all available EC2 instances. is() will match a specific or abstract type in a polymorphic fashion, checking all types and subtypes of the provided type. The instance_cores filter will limit results to only those instances with more than two cores. The query will automagically search your entire infrastructure, regardless of account or region!

> search is(aws_ec2_instance) and instance_cores > 2
​id=i-a..., name=crmsec, age=2y2M, account=dev, region=us-east-1
​id=i-0..., name=airgap, age=2M, account=staging, region=eu-central-1
​id=i-0..., name=flixer, age=1M3w, account=sales, region=us-west-2

The query found three instances in three accounts and three regions. The default output is a condensed list view, but it is also possible to get all collected properties of any resource using the dump command:

> search is(aws_ec2_instance) and instance_cores > 2 limit 1 | dump
​ kind: aws_ec2_instance
​ id: i-a...
​ tags:
​ aws:cloudformation:stack-name: lk-build-server
​ aws:cloudformation:stack-id: arn:aws:cloudformation:...
​ owner: team-proto
​ name: LKbuild
​ instance_cores: 4
​ instance_memory: 16
​ instance_type: t3.xlarge
​ instance_status: stopped
​ age: 1y10M

Let us see how many EC2 instances we have grouped by instance_type using the count command:

> search is(aws_ec2_instance) and instance_cores > 2 | count instance_type
​t3.2xlarge: 1
​m5.4xlarge: 15
​total matched: 16
​total unmatched: 0

Sixteen EC2 instances were returned, including fifteen m5 and one t3 xlarge.

Now, let's say we want to find all ELB load balancers attached to the EC2 instances returned above. We must first understand Resoto's graph data structure to tackle this problem.

When Resoto collects data on your cloud infrastructure, it creates an edge between ELB and EC2 instances if the ELB balances the traffic of the related EC2 instance:

Graph Structure

> search is(aws_ec2_instance) and instance_cores > 2 --> is(aws_elb)
​name=a5..., age=1y1M, account=sales, region=eu-central-1
​name=a3..., age=6M2w, account=staging, region=us-west-2

The --> arrow will take all matching EC2 instances and walk the graph "outbound," moving precisely one step. The list of matching items is not limited only to ELB load balancers, so we need to filter this list again to return only ELB results.

It is also possible to reverse the last query to output all EC2 instances behind an ELB:

> search is(aws_elb) <-- is(aws_ec2_instance) and instance_cores > 2
​id=i-0..., name=airgap, age=2M, account=staging, region=eu-central-1
​id=i-0..., name=flixer, age=1M3w, account=sales, region=us-west-2

The arrow is now mirrored and traverses the graph "inbound," walking edges in the opposite direction.

The above examples only begin to scratch the surface of Resoto's search syntax. I hope you will check out the docs and give Resoto a spin!


This blog post showcases examples of working with AWS resources, but Resoto also supports other resource types (and additional integrations with other providers are planned!):

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