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Stack Catalogs

Catalogs are how to logically organize all the Stack configurations for use by imports. There's no "right or wrong" way to do it, and Atmos does not enforce any one convention.
What we've come to realize is there's no "one way" to organize Stack configurations. The best way to organize them will come down to the way an organization wants to model infrastructure.

Below is how we implement them at Cloud Posse.


We provide a number of recommended conventions for your Stack catalogs. You can use all of them or some of them. These conventions have come about from our customer engagements.

Cloud Posse typically uses orgs as the parent stacks, which import teams, mixins and other services from a catalog.

Filesystem Layout

Here's an example of how Stack imports might be organized on disk.

└── stacks/
├── mixins/
│   └── region/
│ ├── us-east-1.yaml
│ ├── us-west-2.yaml
│ └── eu-west-1.yaml
│   └── stage/
├── teams/
│   └── frontend/
│   └── example-application/
│ └── microservice/
│ ├── prod.yaml
│ ├── dev.yaml
│ └── staging.yaml
└── catalogs/
├── vpc/
│ └── baseline.yaml
└── database/
├── baseline.yaml
├── small.yaml
├── medium.yaml
└── large.yaml

Types of Catalogs


We go into more detail on using Mixins to manage snippets of reusable configuration. These Mixins are frequently used alongside the other conventions such as Teams and Organizations.


When infrastructure gets very large and there's numerous teams managing it, it can be helpful to organize Stack configurations around the notion of "teams". This way it's possible to leverage CODEOWNERS together with branch protection rules to restrict who can merge pull requests that affect infrastructure.

Here's what that might look like:

└── stacks/
└── teams/
   └── frontend/
   └── ecom-store/
├── checkout/
│ ├── prod.yaml
│ ├── dev.yaml
│ └── staging.yaml
   └── cart/
├── prod.yaml
├── dev.yaml
└── staging.yaml

In this example, there's a frontend team that owns an ecom-store application. The application consists of two microservices called checkout and cart. Each microservice has (3) stages: dev, staging and prod.


The organizational layout of Stacks is useful for modeling how infrastructure gets "physically" deployed with a given Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform like AWS.

AWS infrastructure is hierarchical and can be thought of like this:

  1. The top-level account is the "Organization"
  2. An "Organization" can have any number of "Organizational Units" (OUs)
  3. Each "OU" can have "Member Accounts"
  4. Each "Member Account" has "Regions"
  5. Each "Region" has "Resources" (the top-level stack)

In sticking with this theme, a good filesystem layout for infrastructure looks like this:

└── stacks/
└── orgs/
   └── acme/
   ├── ou1/
   │   ├── account1/
   │   │   ├── global-region.yaml
   │   │   └── us-east-2.yaml
   │   ├── account2/
   │   │   ├── global-region.yaml
   │   │   └── us-east-2.yaml
   │   └── account3/
   │   ├── global-region.yaml
   │   └── us-east-2.yaml
   └── ou2/
   ├── dev/
   │   ├── global-region.yaml
   │   └── us-east-2.yaml
   ├── prod/
   │   ├── global-region.yaml
   │   └── us-east-2.yaml
   └── staging/
   ├── global-region.yaml
   └── us-east-2.yaml

Cloud Posse uses the "Organizations" layout for all the "parent stacks". Parent stacks are the top-level stacks which are responsible for importing the other stacks (E.g. teams, mixins, etc)

What's important to point out is that all these conventions are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we like to combine them.

Here's what that might look like:

└── orgs/
└── acme/
   └── platform/
   ├── prod/
│ ├── us-east-1/
│ │ ├── networking.yaml
│ │ ├── compliance.yaml
│ │ ├── backing-services.yaml
│ │ └── teams.yaml
   │ └── us-west-2/
│ ├── networking.yaml
│ ├── compliance.yaml
│ ├── backing-services.yaml
│ └── teams.yaml
   ├── staging/
│ └── us-west-1/
│ ├── networking.yaml
│ ├── compliance.yaml
│ ├── backing-services.yaml
│ └── teams.yaml
   └── dev/
└── us-west-2/
├── networking.yaml
├── backing-services.yaml
└── teams.yaml

In this example, there's a single organization called acme with an example of one organizational unit (OU) called platform. The OU has 3 stages: dev, staging, and prod. Each stage then operates in a number of regions. Each region then has a networking layer, a backing-services layer, and a teams layer. The staging and prod accounts have both have a compliance layer, which isn't needed in the dev stages.

The files like networking.yaml and compliance.yaml can be named anything you want. It's helpful to think about organizing Components based on their lifecycles or according to a concept of layers that stack on top of each other.

Everything Else

For everything else, we usually have catalog that we just call catalog/. We place it underneath the stacks/ folder. This is for everything else we want to define once and reuse. Use whatever convention makes sense for your company.

Refactoring Configurations

One of the amazing things about the Atmos Stack configurations is that the entire state of configuration is stored in the YAML configurations. The filesystem layout has no bearing on the desired state of the configuration. This means that configurations can be easily refactored at at time in the future, if you discover there's a better way to organize your Stack configurations. So long as the deep-merged configuration is the same, it will not affect any of the Components.