Don’t Get Frozen Out: IcePanel, the Coolest App for Enterprise Architects

Unveiling the Architectural Blueprint for Business Technology with IcePanel

James Berger
7 min readApr 20, 2023
A Polar Bear looking at a map. Generated by DALL·E

This blog post is about the importance of having a clear and accurate diagram of a business’s technology landscape when implementing technology. It compares the process to building a home extension without a proper plan and highlights the benefits of having a well-documented diagram. The post also introduces IcePanel, a tool that can help enterprise architects accurately visualise and understand their organisation’s technological landscape.

⚡ Tl;dr

  • IcePanel is an app for enterprise architects to visualise and understand their organisation’s technological landscape.
  • IcePanel simplifies the complex world of systems, apps, and components using the C4 model.
  • IcePanel fosters collaboration and drives innovation by accurately representing the relationships between apps and systems.
  • Incorporating IcePanel into processes builds a transparent and cohesive architecture and a culture of continuous learning and improvement.


Building a home extension without a proper plan is like trying to bake a cake without a recipe. When a homeowner wants to construct a new extension, they don’t just walk up to a builder and ask them to start building. Instead, they first consult an architect who creates a detailed blueprint, ensuring that the extension will seamlessly integrate with the existing structure and meet the homeowner’s needs.

Similarly, when it comes to implementing technology in a business, having a clear and accurate diagram of existing systems and applications is essential. Without this “blueprint,” it’s like trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the final picture looks like. Just as an architect’s plan provides guidance and direction for the builder, a well-documented diagram of a business’s technology landscape enables IT professionals to make informed decisions, optimize resources, and ultimately, build a more cohesive and efficient technological infrastructure.

I’ve been recently navigating an organisations complex world of acronyms, systems and bewildering Visio diagrams. Spending hours reviewing As Is and To Be diagrams — I’ve reviewed many documents titled Final. FinalFinal. FinalFinalFinal. Instead of clarity, I found more apps, and more questions. What does that system do? How are they integrated? How up-to-date is this documentation?

As I attempted to pick away at all the information and make sense of it all, I felt my confidence wane. I was suddenly frozen. Unsure how to contribute meaningfully, to design solutions, or to grasp the current architecture. Overwhelmed and disoriented, it was time to bring clarity to this beastly digital landscape.

Please no more naming files final.

The C4 Model

When it comes to visualising software architecture, the first thing to be familiar with is the C4 model. The 4 C’s stand for Context, Containers, Components, Code. The C4 model was created by the software architect Simon Brown and originates from Unified Modelling Language (UML) and the 4+1 architectural view model. To summarise what the C4 model is, it can simplified to:

  1. The C4 model offers an easy way to show software architecture to all audiences.
  2. It consists of a hierarchy of elements and four diagram types.

If you are new to the C4 model start by watching this YouTube video: Modelling multiple relationships — C4 model | Simon Brown

Discovering IcePanel

Light Cycle Bikes from the Movie Tron: Legacy (2010)

Before delving into IcePanel, I recommend understanding the fundamentals of the C4 model. Here’s a cheat sheet which explains on a single page the basics that will help get you started. Then make sure you can answer the question, what are our systems? This is best explained in this blog post.

As I began exploring the world of C4 modelling, I uncovered IcePanel. The first thing that struck me was the intuitive interface and it’s powerful features. Big statement incoming — This innovative tool has the potential to transform our understanding of the organisations architecture in a way that parallels the clarity provided by site plans and floor plans in the building industry.

Example of IcePanel Level 1 — Context

My Top 5 reasons to use IcePanel

  1. Flows — When you encounter a diagram, the initial thought might be, “Where should I start?” With Diagram Flows, you can easily add a step-by-step order to guide your audience through the process. Picture Tron Light Bikes — as you click “Next,” a pulsing light travels along a connection, clearly showing the direction.
  2. Tours — Onboarding is essential for users to understand how things work and how a system is set up. IcePanel simplifies this by enabling you to create guided tours tailored to explain various aspects, such as a customer portal or a finance system.
  3. Recommendations — At the top of IcePanel, you’ll find a progress icon that represents the overall state of your diagrams. This feature is designed to encourage you to add descriptions to objects, diagrams, and flows, ensuring that your diagrams are rich, clear, and easy to understand for everyone.
  4. Code Repo Integrations — Effortlessly access vital resources in your source control system. IcePanel routinely checks links and highlights any broken ones as inaccurate. Compatible with GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket Server, and Azure DevOps.
  5. Security — One of the most important things in IT is knowing that you are using a product that takes their security and compliance seriously. IcePanel is SOC2 Type II Compliant and the data is encrypted in transit, rest and storage. Read more on their Trust Report.
Example of the Recommendations feature in IcePanel. This feature is designed to encourage you to add descriptions to objects, diagrams, and flows, ensuring that your diagrams complete.


Understanding and implementing C4 modelling can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to identifying and categorising everything within an organization, including systems, apps, and components. To effectively use C4 modelling, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the C4 levels and what to show on each level.

It’s also essential to consider the audience when presenting the C4 model, as different stakeholders may require different levels of detail. Therefore, a thorough understanding of C4 modelling and its associated challenges is necessary to effectively communicate an organization’s architecture and drive successful outcomes.

IcePanel is an effective tool for creating separate domains to organize various service areas, such as payments, repair services, or customer complaints. It effectively maps out Levels 1 to 3 in your diagrams. For Level 4, it is recommended to link your code repository to the corresponding apps or services. By providing a direct link to your code, you can ensure consistency, confidentiality, and seamless management using your preferred code tool.

Embracing Collaboration & Improvement

As I delved into IcePanel, I have begun to see the possibilities for creating a comprehensive and visually stunning models. By accurately representing the relationships between apps and systems. IcePanel will enable everyone to gain a holistic understanding of the interconnected landscape and identify areas for improvement and innovation.

A vital part of how to make IcePanel a success is adoption and trust. I started by introducing the tool to my team. By demonstrating its capabilities and potential, I sparked interest and excitement, paving the way for a journey of learning and collaboration. Fostering collaboration with IcePanel is the key to decoding the architecture. Knowledge is spread across emails, documentation and people. We need to bring all of that information to IcePanel and then to make IcePanel part of everything we do in IT and future projects. If we can centralise information into IcePanel and use it regularly, it will become a trusted source of the truth.

As we continue to explore IcePanel and integrate it into our processes, we are fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement, similar to the iterative process of refining architectural designs. By regularly updating and refining our IcePanel models, we will ensure that the organization’s architecture remains adaptable, efficient, and future-proof.


IcePanel has emerged as an indispensable tool for enterprise architects seeking to accurately visualise and understand their organisation’s technological landscape. By harnessing the power of C4 modelling and leveraging IcePanel’s robust features, IT professionals can foster collaboration, drive innovation, and navigate the complex world of systems, apps, and components with confidence.

As we embrace IcePanel and incorporate it into our processes, we are not only building a more transparent and cohesive architecture but also nurturing a culture of continuous learning and improvement. It is through this commitment that we will ensure our organisations remains agile, adaptable, and prepared for the ever-evolving challenges of the digital age. Don’t get frozen out; dive into IcePanel, and unlock the full potential of your organisation’s architecture today.

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James Berger

Enterprise Architect | TOGAF Practitioner | 11x Microsoft Certified | Dynamics 365 & Power Platform | Scrum Master