AWS News Blog

Well-Architected, Working Backward to Play it Forward

My colleague Philip “Fitz” Fitzsimons wrote the guest post below to bring you up to date on the popular Well-Architected Framework.


Working backward is a fundamental part of our innovation process. We start with the customer and what they want, and let that define and guide our efforts. Having released the Well-Architected Framework in 2015 with the blog post “Are You Well-Architected?” we listened to feedback from our customers to see how we could improve the framework.

We made a number of improvements, firstly we updated the Framework based on the findings from thousands of reviews carried out by AWS Solution Architects. We’ve also responded to customers asking for more guidance on how to operate in the cloud by adding a fifth pillar to the Framework – capturing best practice for Operational Excellence. The full set of pillars are:

  • Security – The ability to protect information, systems, and assets while delivering business value through risk assessments and mitigation strategies.
  • Reliability – The ability of a system to recover from infrastructure or service failures, dynamically acquire computing resources to meet demand, and mitigate disruptions such as misconfigurations or transient network issues.
  • Performance Efficiency – The ability to use computing resources efficiently to meet system requirements, and to maintain that efficiency as demand changes and technologies evolve.
  • Cost Optimization – The ability to avoid or eliminate unneeded cost or suboptimal resources.
  • Operational Excellence – The ability to run and monitor systems to deliver business value and to continually improve supporting processes and procedures.

The AWS Well-Architected Framework positions our perspectives on how to think about architecture in the cloud. It outlines a set of best practices for the pillars and offers a set of open-ended questions that help you to understand where you are with respect to the best practices.

Further to this, customers asked us to be more prescriptive in our advice on how to architect on the cloud, so we created a series of whitepapers that include prescriptive advice on how to build cloud native architectures in the context of each pillar. These whitepapers can all be found at the new home for Well-Architected, where you can always find our most current thinking.

Additionally, to help you adopt Well-Architected, we have launched free online training. The AWS Well-Architected training course is designed to provide a deep dive into the AWS Well-Architected Framework and its five pillars.

We believe that by working backwards we can build better offerings for our customers. We offer the best practices identified in Well-Architected in the spirit of helping you play it forward for your business.

Philip Fitzsimons, Leader, AWS Well-Architected Team