AWS Cloud Operations & Migrations Blog

Scale Operational Readiness Reviews with AWS Well-Architected Tool

In this blog post, learn how to scale out an operational readiness review (ORR) in your organization by using the AWS Well-Architected Tool (AWS WA Tool) and its Custom Lens capability. The AWS WA Tool ‘Custom Lens’ feature was launched in Nov 2021 and makes it a single place for you to review and measure best practices across your organization.

One of the best practices in the AWS Well-Architected Framework is “Ensure a consistent review of operational readiness”.  In June of 2022 we published the Operations Readiness Review (ORR) Whitepaper which provides insights and best practice recommendations. We use the ORR process regularly at Amazon to reduce risk across our workloads. The Whitepaper shows you how to build an ORR practice using data from your own post-incident analysis. Customers adopting ORR often ask us “What tool should I use to manage my own ORR checklist?” In this blog post we’ll show you how you can use the AWS WA Tool to create your own ORR checklist that can be shared across your accounts and accelerate the adoption of your own ORR practice.

Overview of solution

The AWS WA Tool is designed to help you review the state of your applications and workloads against architectural best practices, identify opportunities for improvement, and track progress over time. Workloads can be shared across accounts, giving you a central view of your workloads and the state of improvements measured against best practices in the AWS Well-Architected Framework (WAFR). If you use AWS Organizations, you can share workloads in Organizations.

Another feature of the AWS WA Tool is called Custom Lenses. A Custom Lens is the equivalent of having your own WAFR. It contains pillars, questions, best practices, and improvement plans that you populate using a JSON file. Custom Lenses can be shared like other AWS WA Tool resources through Organizations.

This solution is focused on showcasing implementing your ORR questions and associated checks with the AWS WA Tool. We’ll provide questions as examples that you can use to get started building your own ORR mechanism. Ideally, you would want to have your ORR questions and checks defined with input from stakeholders in business, product and operations. For example, business, product and operations should deliberate on failure modes that haven’t occurred but could have significant business impact if not addressed. The set of questions should align to meet your business and service objectives. AWS offers several different engagement models to help you build your own ORR checklist to complement what you’re doing with Well-Architected. Contact your account team for additional details.

We will now walk through how to create Custom Lens using ‘ORR sample custom lens’ which is available in the GitHub repository following these steps:

Prepare your custom lens WA template json file

We have published a sample custom lens: ORR-Whitepaper-Sample-PUBLISHED.json

To get started you may download and edit it as needed.

Navigate to the AWS WA Tool on the AWS console and create custom lens

After you prepare your custom lens WA template json file, you can navigate to the AWS WA Tool on the AWS console and create custom lens.

Figure 1. Create custom lens

Upload your custom lens WA json template, and submit it.

Figure 2: Upload json template

Publish your custom lens providing a version tag

You will find your custom lens WA in draft version.

Publish your draft version providing a version tag.

Figure 3: Publish the draft custom lens

Figure 4: Define workload

Figure 4: Define workload

Review workloads using custom lenses

After your custom lens WA is published, you can define a workload in your WA console.

Figure 5: Define workload using custom lens

Figure 5: Define workload using custom lens

You can continue reviewing and answer the questions for custom lens.

Figure 6: Review workload using the custom lens

Figure 6: Review workload using the custom lens

Now you can review your ‘Operational Readiness Review’ (ORR) with customized questionnaire and practice.

Figure 7: Review workload questions

Figure 7: Review workload questions

Prerequisites

For this walkthrough, you should have the following prerequisites:

Benefits

Factoring operational requirements as part of design and build phases reduces the level of effort to implement the capabilities to achieving your operational goals such as availability, resiliency, and observability. This approach promotes best practices and learnings to be applied effectively. Just as defects found in late stages of a product development are expensive to fix, similarly adapting workloads to reduce or eliminate operational deficiencies get increasingly complex closer to production. ORR brings focus to ensure workloads and operations are aligned with the goals set by the business and increases shared learning across teams.

Conclusion

We hope you’ve now learned how to take advantage of AWS Well-Architected Tool’s Custom Lens capability to operationalize an ORR program for your organization. The solution walks through the journey of taking a set of example questions and transposing them into the JSON structure that forms the pillars, questions, best practices and improvement plan. See documentation to learn more about the Custom Lens structure and this article on its lifecycle.

AWS Well-Architected is a set of guiding design principles developed by AWS to help organizations build secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure for a variety of applications and workloads. Use the AWS Well-Architected Tool to review your workloads periodically to address important design considerations and ensure that they follow the best practices and guidance of the AWS Well-Architected Framework. For follow up questions or comments, join our growing community on AWS re:Post.

About the authors:

Arvind Raghunathan

Arvind is a Sr. Operations Specialist Technical Account Manager at AWS and is passionate about DevOps. He loves yoga, meditation, trying his skills cooking vegetarian dishes and following international cricket.

Rich Boyd

Rich Boyd is the Operational Excellence Pillar Lead for the AWS Well-Architected Framework. He curates and evangelizes best practices in the Operational Excellence Pillar and works with customers to improve their operational health. In his free time he’s an organizer for DevOpsDays Austin and DevOpsDays Texas, and enjoys hiking around the Hill Country.