The Well-Architected Framework is a core set of best practices and guidelines for designing and operating reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective systems in the cloud. It has been proven across thousands of cloud implementations and has adapted over time to changes in cloud technologies and architecture. Should you choose to adopt the Well-Architected Framework for your cloud services, you can be confident that you are walking in the footsteps of some of the most proven and seasoned cloud architects.
Experts in Infrastructure-as-a-Service have been using the Well-Architected Framework for years to implement AWS and Azure across a wide variety of verticals and use cases. This approach is intended to be a template or a blueprint for how cloud services should be deployed and run and will help you establish good architectural habits.
Microsoft and AWS developed the framework to help their customers and partners ensure their cloud services are designed and function in an optimal and agile way. The framework has five pillars that are all contributing factors for a successful cloud design:
One thing to note is that the framework includes both the recommendations on what best practice looks like, with clear recommendations on how you can deploy and run your cloud, as well as what does not contribute to a successful deployment.
The Well-Architected Framework ensures that cloud services are migrated, implemented, and managed as intended. In applying this standardized approach you can be confident that your services run efficiently and cost-effectively. Not implementing the right level of resiliency according to the workload or not adhering to specific compliance requirements can have a real impact on how effective your IT team is. It could even interfere with the day-to-day responsibilities of your business.
Applying the Well-Architected Framework provides a level of assurance that your cloud is running the way it is intended to and that it is not vulnerable to outages, performance degradation, or data risk.
An additional benefit of using the Well-Architected Framework is that your cloud approach is now familiar to other developers, admins, and managed services providers. By following a standard formula for implementing cloud services, it will be much easier to integrate with other services, grow your deployment, or streamline your cloud.
Some cloud providers have taken the Well-Architected Framework one step further and have developed tools that help conform to these best practices.
Both Azure and AWS provide a set of tools and services that can be used to implement each pillar of the Well-Architected Framework. For example, AWS provides services like AWS CloudFormation, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and AWS Lambda, which can be used to implement against the Operational Excellence pillar. Similarly, Azure provides services like Azure DevOps, Azure Monitor, and Azure Functions, which can be used to implement the Operational Excellence pillar as well.
Two sets of tools for different cloud solutions – based on the same principles.
Below find some examples of best practices for each of the Well-Architected Framework that correspond to the different pillars. These certainly are not the only guidelines but serve as evidence of how far reaching and universal the recommendations are.
One example of the Operational Excellence pillar at work is illustrated by a common use case we see in the eCommerce space. Many retail companies use cloud-based inventory management systems. These systems need to be designed to handle high volumes of traffic during peak periods, such as Black Friday. They have to burst or scale up and down automatically to adjust to variability in demand. Retail companies need to continually process and monitor their system’s performance and address any issues quickly.
Another example that we see is in the financial services space with customers that use cloud-based payment processing system. The system must be designed to ensure that payment data is encrypted both in transit and at-rest. Access to the system must be restricted to authorized users only. Financial services and banks need to have processes in place to monitor systems for unauthorized access attempts or breaches. Then they need to respond quickly in the event of a security incident.
Any healthcare provider that uses a cloud-based electronic health records (EHR) system benefits from Well-Architected Framework principles. Their system must be designed to ensure that patient data is always available, but also needs to be able to recover data quickly in case of failure. It must be able to respond rapidly in the event of a system outage. The company requires key systems and processes required to monitor for issues impacting reliability – and patient safety.
Any eCommerce company that uses a cloud-based website to sell products online needs to be architected in a very specific way to ensure that it can respond to fluctuating and often unpredictable demand. Similar to the Black Friday example, the website must be designed to handle high traffic volumes and provide a fast and responsive user experience. The company must also have processes to monitor the website’s performance and identify any bottlenecks that may impact performance.
Any cloud company, or any company for that matter, should only pay for the services it needs and, in many cases, they need to continually optimize service usage to minimize costs. The Well-Architected Framework is a useful tool to help manage costs and ensure that cloud services are implemented in a way that they are only running when needed and standing by when demand exists.
These examples of course are very high level but serve as illustrations of how the Well-Architected Framework can help you reduce risk, and respond faster to changes that affect solution design, application development, and managing workloads.
Would you like to learn more about how you can benefit from the well architected framework to optimize your cloud services?
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