The business-value of a Well-Architected Review 

by Ned Hallett
Published on November 2020

If you’re a digital transformation leader, or the head of digital at an agency or brand, you may find that the question of whether your cloud infrastructure is doing everything it could is a persistent nag.

It can be difficult to bring all the relevant stakeholders – CTOs, CFOs, product teams – into the right forum, and as a result, many teams end up not having this much-needed conversation.

Enter the AWS-Well Architected Framework. First and foremost a way of easily leveling-up your infrastructure, but, just as importantly, a forum for a creative, collaborative conversation where the concerns of digital leaders can reach other aspects of the business.

What is an AWS Well-Architected Review? 

Well Architected Logo

The Well-Architected Framework was developed by AWS to evaluate AWS infrastructure against key criteria. 

The goal is to provide actionable insights that convert quickly into real change.

A Well-Architected Review means the relevant stakeholders sitting down with an accredited AWS Partner – that’d be us – and going through these criteria together.

What are the criteria? The 5 Pillars of an AWS-Well Architected Review

The framework is separated into five pillars, each looking at a different area of infrastructure. Within each pillar, there are a number of design principles and best practices.

reporting  Operational Excellence 

This pillar focuses on the ability to support development, run workloads, and continuously improve processes through monitoring and change. Design principles include:

  • Perform operations as code
  • Make frequent, small, reversible changes
  • Refine operations procedures frequently
  • Anticipate failure
  • Learn from all operational failures

Security  Security 

This pillar focuses on the capability to protect your data, systems, and assets, taking advantage of the full potential of cloud technologies. Design principles include:

  • Implement a strong identity foundation
  • Enable traceability
  • Apply security at all layers
  • Automate security best practices
  • Protect data in transit and at rest
  • Keep people away from data
  • Prepare for security event

 Cost Optimisation 

This pillar focuses on ensuring your solution delivers full value at the lowest possible price point.  Design principles include:

  • Implement cloud financial management
  • Adopt a consumption model
  • Measure overall efficiency
  • Stop spending money on undifferentiated heavy lifting
  • Analyze and attribute expenditure

web page  Reliability 

This pillar focuses on the capacity of workloads to consistently fulfill its function. Design principles include: 

  • Automatically recover from failure
  • Test recovery procedures
  • Scale horizontally to increase aggregate workload availability
  • Stop guessing capacity
  • Manage change in automation

DevOps  Performance Efficiency 

This pillar focuses on using compute resources efficiently while meeting system requirements in the context of rapidly changing technology. Design principles include:

  • Democratize advanced technologies
  • Go global in minutes
  • Use serverless architectures
  • Experiment more often
  • Consider mechanical sympathy

When you book in a review, after completing a lead workshop, the accredited partner will take the concerns and objectives of the team as they relate to the above criteria, and then come back to you with a set of actionable recommendations.

How looking at these pillars can connect digital with other teams as well as upgrading infrastructure

people at a meeting

While the main purpose of a Well-Architected Review is to address that nagging concern and bring your infrastructure up to best-practice standards, the review can also serve as a forum to bring the concerns of digital to the right attention.

A great example of this is the operational excellence pillar.

Typically, digital leaders want to transform their products and bring new features out to customers, but some of the biggest obstacles they face are often squirreled away in the purview of the ops team.

Things like not using code repositories to allow for small, frequent changes, or not using IaC tools are often semi-hidden barriers, but in a conversation that focuses on how all aspects of infrastructure affect all aspects of the business, this connection is highlighted – and what’s more, the workshop leader will be able to recommend direct fixes that speak to the needs of both parties.

Running with this example, we can see how the other pillars are vital to getting the outcomes we want. 

Where this team-up between digital and ops could usually be derailed by financial concerns – for example about the cost of new tools or training – having both an informed discussion on cost and the right stakeholders in the room means everything that needs to be talked about is.

And remember, the focus of the review will always be on small, achievable goals to begin with.

In short, it’s the 360-scope of a Well-Architected Review, combined with access to expert info, that allows healthy, collaborative conversation to take place, and allows businesses to make real changes.

How we can help

We’re in a unique spot to help teams connect and upgrade their infrastructure. We’re AWS Advanced Consulting Partners, and coming from an agency background, we know exactly how the concerns of digital and marketing teams fit into conversations about cloud infrastructure.

A Just After Midnight Well-Architected Review works by booking your review and choosing attendees, meeting either in-person or online for a workshop,  and coming away with a comprehensive document of recommendations and costings. From there, we can work with you to implement change and ensure all stakeholders are satisfied.

The takeaways:

  • Digital leaders are often aware of the need to improve their infrastructure, but it isn’t a question that sits comfortably in their remit.
  • An AWS-Well Architected-review provides not only a tried-and-tested method for upgrading your infrastructure but also a forum for creative collaboration between usually disparate stakeholders.
  • This conversation means that digital leaders can table their key concerns in a setting that breaks down the usual barriers and supplies real change.

So, if you want to make your AWS infrastructure work for you, book a Just After Midnight Well-Architected Review today.

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