AWS Well Architected Framework

Brett Gillett

The AWS Well Architected Framework (WAF) is a series of documents maintained by the subject matter experts at Amazon Web Services.

The goal of the Well Architected Framework is to provide you with guidance on how to build more flexible, resilient, secure, cost-effective solutions on the platform.

Currently, there are five ‘pillar’s, three ‘lens,’ and an overview document.

Pillars consist of the following documents:

  • Operations Excellence
  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Performance Efficiency
  • Cost Optimization

The three lenses are:

  • High-Performance Computing (HPC)
  • Serverless
  • Internet of Things (IoT)

If you’re interested in reading through questions for each of the pillars, have a look at the Framework document. The independent documents provide details on design principals and critical AWS services. What the Well Architected Framework isn’t going to tell you is how to deploy solutions. For that, you’re going to need to rely on your team or consider working with an AWS Partner.

The Well Architected Framework is a fantastic, often overlooked resource which you should regularly review to help ensure you are building the best solutions you can on the platform.

I’ve talked about the importance of building a Cloud Center of Excellence in the past. The most successful teams we work with have created internal CCOE’s and addition regularly use the principles of the Well Architected Framework to evaluate deployed solutions.

My suggestion would be to leverage the Well Architected Framework as a way to help teams learn about the AWS platform and build better, more secure solutions.

How do you do this? My opinion is that you have teams evaluate each other using the WAF.

Here’s a simple example of how you could get started.

Let’s say you have two teams building solutions on AWS. Each team has independent AWS accounts under a single AWS Organization. The first month, get both teams in a room and have one team evaluate the deployment of the other based on the questions in the Framework.

The goal of these sessions is to a generative, blame-free environment where both teams have opportunities to learn how to best use the AWS platform. At the end of the session, the team who’s deployment was examined walks away with a list of items to possibly address in their deployment.

Next month, reverse the roles.

If you do this each month, you’re breaking down barriers to communication, helping your teams become continuous learners all while improving your AWS deployments. Wins all around!

The Well Architected Tool

At Re: Invent 2018, AWS introduction the Well Architected Tool. The Well Architected Tool is a free web-based solution which you can access via the AWS Management Console.

It’s a great idea. Here’s the challenge. Technology can isolate. While giving us an easy to use, free web-based solution is excellent; you need to ensure it doesn’t end up isolated your teams.

The most effective organizations we work with find ways to get their teams together and talk shop. The web-based tool makes it easier not to do that.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t use the tool, but get everyone in the room together (or on a video call) and walk through the questions as a group.

Brett Gillett


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