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Align with the AWS Well-Architected Framework

AWS developed the AWS Well-Architected Framework to guide businesses toward building reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective systems in the cloud. In this article, we provide an overview of the Framework and best practices to align your cloud architecture.

As businesses move operations to the public cloud and away from private on-premise data centers, control over computing architecture becomes decentralized. Instead of a central IT team responsible for selecting, purchasing, and installing hardware and virtual machines, developers across departments have the power to spin up any number of resources with little oversight and accountability.

As you can imagine, the decentralization of infrastructure management has led to ballooning cloud costs for many businesses. However, cost control is not the biggest problem that businesses face when they take the “wild west” approach to cloud management—i.e. no strategy and few governance policies. Nothing kills a company faster than the disintegration of trust in the brand. Cloud architects and developers must maintain that trust by building secure, reliable, and efficient architectures to run their business.

So how do we do that? Well, Amazon Web Services (AWS) developed a Framework to guide you toward building a well-architected environment. According to AWS, “by using the Framework, you will learn architectural best practices for designing and operating reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective systems in the cloud.” Microsoft Azure offers a very similar Well-Architected Framework, and the best practices from these frameworks have been widely adopted by cloud providers and practitioners.

“By using the Framework, you will learn architectural best practices for designing and operating reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective systems in the cloud.” — AWS Well-Architected Framework

The five pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework 

The five pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework are already well documented, but here’s a brief summary: 

  1. Operational Excellence: Running and monitoring systems to deliver business value, and continually improving processes and procedures.
  2. Security: Protecting information, systems, and assets while delivering business value through risk assessments and mitigation strategies. 
  3. Reliability: Recovering from infrastructure or service disruptions, dynamically acquiring compute resources to meet demand, and mitigating disruptions, such as misconfigurations or transient network issues.
  4. Performance Efficiency: Using IT and computing resources efficiently to meet system requirements and maintaining that efficiency as demand changes and technologies evolve.
  5. Cost Optimization: Running systems to deliver business value at the lowest price point.

In addition to outlining design principles for each of the five pillars, the Framework also provides a way for businesses to assess their existing architectures and identify areas for improvement. Through a series of questions that qualify each pillar, businesses can determine where their architecture is weakest and prioritize changes.

Use CloudHealth to engineer well-architected cloud environments

Establish a Cloud Center of Excellence

The single best thing you can do to set yourself up for architectural success in the cloud is to form a cloud governance team, or a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE). The CCoE will build a strategy and game plan for building in and/or migrating to the cloud. This strategy will align with broader business initiatives and employ best practices from the AWS Well-Architected Framework. At CloudHealth, we coach all our customers to build this team and outline its charter before shocking cloud bills start rolling in, or the dreaded security breach takes the wind out of your sails. It’s critical to establish guidelines and guardrails that set you on the path to achieving operational excellence.

Use CloudHealth’s default security policy

CloudHealth comes out-of-the-box with default security policies that align with AWS and CIS (Center for Internet Security) best practices. Numerous tools in the CloudHealth platform make it easy for businesses to monitor compliance and automate reporting for frameworks such as CIS, NIST, SOC 2, GDPR, HIPPA, and PCI. Businesses may also opt to take cloud security and compliance beyond threat detection and reporting with CloudHealth Secure State.

Proactively monitor your environment

Ensuring the reliability of your business tools and applications goes a long way to establishing trust in your brand. CloudHealth’s robust policy engine tells you when anything in your environment is out of line, including asset configuration and system performance, as well as security and costs. But reacting to policy breaches at human speed is often not fast enough. This is where CloudHealth’s automation comes into play, correcting misconfigurations or terminating rogue instances at the speed of software. With CloudHealth, you never have to worry about reliable performance.

Continuously rightsize

Operating efficiently in the cloud can feel a little like a dog chasing its own tail. As new types and sizes of instances, databases, containers, elastic scalers, and other critical resources are adopted at breakneck speed, the more opportunity there is to optimize or rightsize existing infrastructure. CloudHealth envisions a future where rightsizing is a continuous and automated process. We’ve built our solution to give businesses the flexibility to employ as much or as little automation as they’re comfortable with to rightsize their infrastructure.

Optimize costs

CloudHealth was built out of the need to manage our AWS usage, so we understand how hard it can be to try to optimize costs without the right tools. But after over a decade, tens of thousands of customers, and over $11 billion in cloud spend being managed on our platform, we’ve got this cost optimization thing down pat. CloudHealth is the solution of choice for cloud financial management, enabling complete alignment with the AWS Cost Optimization pillar of the Well-Architected Framework. CloudHealth’s concept of Perspectives provides a way to group cloud assets in a way that makes sense for your business (e.g. by team, environment, line of business, etc.) so you can slice and dice data according to the metrics you care most about.

This is a high-level summary of some of the ways CloudHealth provides alignment with each of the five pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework.

For more information into the specific features/capabilities in CloudHealth that enable alignment with the Framework, see our solution brief: Leverage CloudHealth to Align with AWS Well-Architected Framework