The Well Architected Framework
Article Synopsis :
Though intended for AWS users, the ‘Well Architected Framework’ is really a blueprint for building winning solutions in the Cloud, irrespective of vendor.
The Well Architected Framework is built on the following Five Pillars:
- Operational Excellence
- Performance Efficiency
- Cost Optimization
There will inevitably arise trade-offs between the pillars, for example Performance and Cost. But Security and Operational Excellence should never be compromised.
Six General Design Principles sit atop the Five Pillars:
- Stop guessing capacity needs.
- Test systems at production scale.
- Automate to make architectural experimentation easier.
- Allow for evolutionary architectures—take advantage of innovations.
- Drive architectures using data—architecture is code, use it.
- Improve through ‘game days’—simulating events in production.
High speed evolution through automation, experimentation, and rapid implementation is really unique to the Cloud, as is the ability to spin up or down compute resources based on actual need, paying only for what you use.
Here is a recap of the Design Principles for each of the Five Pillars. Please consult the paper for Best Practice areas and examples within each Pillar:
Operational Excellence – Delivering Business Value
- Perform operations as code, limiting human error, ensuring consistent responses to events
- Annotate documentation—automating both documentation and annotation
- Make frequent, small, reversible changes with regular updates
- Refine operations procedures frequently, using Game Days to test
- Anticipate failure; conduct ‘pre-mortem’ exercises based on Game Day results
- Learn from all operational failures; improve and share across the organization
- Build and utilize Runbooks for procedures
- Build and utilize Playbooks for failure scenarios
- Implement a strong identity foundation
- Enable traceability
- Apply security at all layers (not just the outer layer)
- Automate security best practices
- Protect data in-transit and at-rest
- Prepare for security events
- Test recovery procedures
- Automatically recover from failure
- Scale horizontally to increase aggregate system availability
- Replace one large system with multiple small systems
- Stop guessing capacity—avoid resource saturation
- Manage change in automation
Performance Efficiency (As demand changes and technologies evolve)
- Democratize advanced technologies, consuming them as a service
- Go global in minutes
- Use ‘serverless’ architectures
- Experiment more often
- Employ ‘mechanical sympathy’ properly aligning technology approach to need
- Adopt a consumption-based model
- Measure overall efficiency
- Stop spending money on datacentre operations
- Analyze and attribute all expenditures
- Utilize managed services to reduce TCO
The goal is to build and deliver highly available, fault-tolerant systems that operate and even innovate with a minimum of human intervention delivering real value to human consumers.
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Digital Insurer's CommentsThe thinking on digital transformation has shifted over the last two years. We used to think and write about ‘what’ to implement—for example, mobile, CRM, or chatbots. But we now think in terms of ‘how’. Specifically:
- How do we decide the right ‘what’ in the digital context?
- How do we implement and scale the right ‘what’ ASAP—which in the digital context needs to be today?
- How do we build customer feedback loops into our systems to guide adjustments as things change—which in the digital context could be tomorrow?
The Well Architected Framework is an excellent ‘how’ document for the Cloud age, regardless of the Cloud you choose to use.
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