As the CIO of a booming digital business, Charles had good days and bad days. Some days he felt like he had created a beautiful, welcoming environment on the AWS platform that people loved to visit. On other days, he expected the whole thing to collapse under the weight of all the traffic it was receiving.
As the business had grown and changed, so had his AWS environment. Compromises had been made early on to get going, and now he was worried that those decisions had weakened the foundations of the whole endeavor.
What Charles needed was an independent, expert review of his AWS infrastructure that could evaluate his environment and provide an outside perspective on how it measured up against modern best practices.
Charles is not alone. In fact, Amazon recognized the need for a Well-Architected Review (WAR) and it created a framework, built on five pillars, that provides guidance for AWS users to implement designs that scale with your needs over time.
No matter how good your team is, there's no denying the value of gaining a fresh perspective from outside consultants who have been exposed to hundreds of different projects and infrastructures. When they bring that experience to bear on your project, they can use the knowledge gained from seeing why some projects fail and others succeed.
Let's take a closer look at the 5 pillars of the AWS WAR Framework, and run through a checklist of questions you should be able to answer:
1. Operational excellence:
The ability to run and monitor systems and to deliver business value and to continually improve supporting processes and procedures.
- How are you evolving your workload while minimizing the impact of changes?
- What best practices for cloud operations are you using?
The ability to protect information, systems and assets while delivering business value through risk assessment and mitigation strategies.
- How are you encrypting and protecting your data at rest?
- How are you encrypting and protecting your data in transit?
The ability of a system to recover from infrastructure or service failures, dynamically acquire computing resources to meet demand and mitigate disruptions or transient network issues.
- How are you managing AWS limits for your account?
- How are you planning your network topology on AWS?
- Do you have an escalation path to deal with technical issues?
4. Performance efficiency:
The ability to use computing resources efficiently to meet system requirements, and to maintain that efficiency as demand changes and technologies evolve.
- How do you select the appropriate instance type for your system?
- How do you ensure that you continue to have the most appropriate instance type as new instances types and features are introduced?
- How do you monitor your instances post launch to ensure they are performing as expected?
5. Cost optimization:
The ability to avoid or eliminate unneeded cost or sub-optimal resources.
- How do you make sure your capacity matches but does not substantially exceed what you need?
- How are you optimizing your usage of AWS service?
Chances are you already have enough on your plate to deal with. No-one can run a company and keep up to date with all the latest updates and best practices that Amazon provides. You need to work with a partner who does this work everyday, who has received extensive training on Amazon's best practices, and who has your best interests at heart.