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AWS Well Architected Framework: Best Practices for Building and Deploying an Optimized Cloud Environment

AWS has developed the Well-Architected Framework to help customers architect their mission-critical applications on AWS with secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure. Well Architected can help you build and deploy faster, lower or mitigate risks, make informed decisions, and learn AWS best practices.

Five Pillars of the Framework

The AWS Well Architected Framework is based on five pillars:

  1. Operational Excellence: The operational excellence pillar focuses on running and monitoring systems to deliver business value, and continually improving processes and procedures. Key topics include managing and automating changes, responding to events, and defining standards for managing daily operations.
  2. Security: The security pillar focuses on protecting information and systems. Key topics include confidentiality and integrity of data, privilege management, protecting systems, and establishing controls to detect security events.
  3. Reliability: The reliability pillar focuses on the ability to prevent and quickly recover from failures to meet business and customer demand. Key topics include foundational elements regarding setup, cross-project requirements, recovery planning, and change management.
  4. Performance Efficiency: The performance efficiency pillar focuses on efficiently using IT and computing resources. Key topics include selecting the right resource types and sizes based on workload requirements, monitoring performance, and making informed decisions to maintain efficiency as mission needs evolve.
  5. Cost Optimization: Cost optimization focuses on avoiding unnecessary costs. Key topics include understanding and controlling where money is spent, selecting the appropriate number of resource types, analyzing spend over time, and scaling to meet mission needs without overspending.

A Look Inside a Well Architected Review with an SA

A Well Architected review occurs during a 1-3 hour meeting with an AWS Solutions Architect (SA). During the review, the SA will ask your team a series of questions from each pillar of the framework. It is ideal to invite representatives from all groups involved in the application’s development, testing, and maintenance. For example, for a public-facing website, this might include members from the following teams: Software Developers, Site Reliability Engineering, Information Security, and Finance.

After finishing the review, you will receive a report that shows how the application performed against best practices, and any proposed fixes and areas for improvement. See below for an example report.

Well Architected reviews are also available through partners. Jeff Aden, Founder of 2nd Watch, said, “AWS offers Well-Architected reviews for applications that are mission critical, and it’s a great idea for enterprises that are looking to move to the cloud or already have moved to have a Well Architected review from one of AWS’s partners. The cloud involves constant innovation, and a lot of times what you did last month or three months ago may have some changes and modifications, whether for security, optimization for technical performance, or for financial performance.”

Steps to Get Started

If you want to run the Well Architect Framework on your workloads, the first step is to take our self-paced training, which provides examples of pillar-specific design principles and best practices. Next, read the Well Architected Framework whitepaper, as well as whitepapers for each pillar here. Then, reach out to your AWS account team to get started with the review.