What is the AWS Well-Architected Framework?

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Well-Architected Framework outlines key concepts, design principles, and architectural best practices for building and running workloads in the cloud. Built upon years of experience designing and reviewing thousands of customers’ cloud architectures, the AWS WellArchitected Framework helps cloud architects build secure, high-performing, resilient and efficient infrastructure for their applications and workloads. It also provides a consistent approach for customers and partners to evaluate and improve architectures.

The framework consists of six pillars, and each pillar is qualified by a set of foundational questions that allow you to understand if a specific architecture aligns well with cloud best practices.


The Six Pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework

1. Operational Excellence

This covers how your organization supports your business objectives, as well as your ability to run workloads effectively, gain insight into their operations, and continuously improve supporting processes and procedures to deliver business value.

Key topics: 

  • Understanding organizational priorities and structure
  • Preparing for operational excellence
  • Identifying when organizational and business outcomes might become at risk
  • Evolving through a continuous cycle of improvement over time

2. Security

This covers how to take advantage of cloud technologies to protect data, systems and assets in a way that can improve your security posture.

Key topics: 

  • Ensuring the right people have access to the right resources under the right conditions
  • Detecting unexpected or unwanted configuration changes in addition to detecting unexpected behavior
  • Protecting the systems and services within your workload against unintended and unauthorized access as well as potential vulnerabilities
  • Classifying and encrypting data to prevent mishandling and comply with regulatory obligations
  • Implementing mechanisms to respond to and mitigate the potential impact of security incidents

3. Reliability

This covers the ability of a workload to perform its intended function correctly and consistently when it’s expected to, including the ability to operate and test the workload through its total lifecycle.

Key topics:

  • Putting in place foundation requirements before architecting a system
  • Designing decisions upfront for both software and infrastructure
  • Anticipating and accommodating changes to your workload
  • Ensuring the people designing, implementing and operating your workloads are aware of business objectives and necessary reliability goals

4. Performance Efficiency

This covers the efficient use of computing resources to meet requirements and maintaining that efficiency as demand changes and technologies evolve.

Key topics: 

  • Using multiple solutions and enabling different features to improve performance
  • Implementing a performance review process that considers all aspects of your services, and evolving this review over time
  • Monitoring performance so you can remediate issues before they have negative impacts
  • Thinking about trade-offs to ensure an optimal approach 

5. Cost Optimization

This covers the continual process of refining and improving over the span of a workload’s lifecycle to achieve business outcomes while minimizing costs, allowing your organization to maximize its return on investment.

Key topics:

  • Practicing cloud financial management to enable your organization to realize business value and financial success as you optimize cost and usage, and scale on AWS
  • Understanding how profitable organizational units and products are so you can make informed decisions about where to allocate resources
  • Using the appropriate services, resources and configurations for your workloads
  • Managing demand and appropriately supplying resources
  • Optimizing by reviewing new services and implementing them in your workload

6. Sustainability

This covers the ability to continually improve sustainability impacts by reducing energy consumption and increasing efficiency across all components of a workload by maximizing the benefits from the provisioned resources and minimizing total resources required.

Key topics:

  • Understanding improvements such as eliminating waste and maximizing the value of the resources you consume
  • Adding sustainability to your list of business requirements and meeting sustainability targets
  • Recognizing patterns and opportunities for employing best practices in region selection, user behavior, software and architecture, data, hardware, and your development and deployment process

General Design Principles of the AWS Well-Architected Framework

Architecting technology solutions that align with the six pillars of the framework ensures your business requirements are met as efficiently as possible with a secure and reliable infrastructure. AWS recommends following these general design principles:

AWS recommends following these general design principles:

  • Stop guessing your capacity needs.
  • Test systems at production scale.
  • Automate to make architectural experimentation easier.
  • Allow for evolutionary architectures.
  • Drive architectures using data.
  • Improve through game days (i.e. simulations of production).

How to align to the AWS Well-Architected Framework with VMware Aria Cost

VMware Aria Cost™ powered by CloudHealth® can help cloud consumers and managed service providers who are building and running workloads in the cloud answer several questions that qualify each pillar in the AWS Well-Architected Framework. VMware Aria Cost provides full alignment with the cost optimization pillar.

1. Operational Excellence

AWS Well-Architected Framework review
VMware Aria Cost alignment
How do you determine what your priorities are?

Businesses and cloud service providers that choose VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth gain a trusted partner who teaches how to establish a cloud center of excellence (CCoE) team that determines key performance indicators (KPIs) and drives business alignment.

VMware Aria Cost monitors the overall health of your environment (Health Check Pulse Report), and reports on granular usage and performance of all assets so you can stop guessing capacity needs and make informed decisions about cloud operations.

How do you structure your organization to support your business outcomes?
How does your organizational culture support your business outcomes?
How do you design your workload so that you can understand its state?
How do you reduce defects, ease remediation, and improve flow into production?
How do you mitigate deployment risks?
How do you know that you are ready to support a workload?
How do you understand the health of your workload?
How do you understand the health of your operations?
How do you manage workload and operations events?
How do you evolve operations?

2. Security

AWS Well-Architected Framework review
VMware Aria Cost alignment
How do you securely operate your workload?

The default security policy of VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth aligns with AWS and Center for Internet Security (CIS) best practices to identify security gaps and recommend or automate remediations.

VMware Aria Cost logs security events in a security risk exposure summary, and a detailed open ports report.

Integrate with Alert Logic Cloud Defender to report on Alert Logic incidents.

Take cloud security and compliance beyond threat detection and reporting with VMware Aria Automation™ for Secure Clouds.

How do you manage identities for people and machines?
How do you manage permissions for people and machines?
How do you detect and investigate security events?
How do you protect your network resources?
How do you protect your compute resources?
How do you classify your data?
How do you protect your data at rest?
How do you protect your data in transit?
How do you anticipate, respond to, and recover from incidents?


3. Reliability

AWS Well-Architected Framework review VMware Aria Cost alignment
How do you manage service quotas and constraints?

Continuously monitor your environment by subscribing to reports and customized dashboards.

The policy-based governance of VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth is a robust tool that alerts you or takes automated action when any predefined policy has been violated. Policies enable governance over all operations (including asset configuration and system performance) as well as security and costs

Easily comply with AWS Config rules and enable AWS CloudTrail in the VMware Aria Cost platform.

Integrations with other tools, such as Chef and Ansible, provide additional guardrails for IT deployment.

How do you plan your network topology?
How do you design your workload service architecture?
How do you design interactions in a distributed system to prevent failures?
How do you design interactions in a distributed system to mitigate or withstand failures?
How do you monitor workload resources?
How do you design your workload to adapt to changes in demand?
How do you implement change?
How do you back up data?
How do you use fault isolation to protect your workload?
How do you design your workload to withstand component failures?
How do you test reliability?
How do you plan for disaster recovery (DR)?


4. Performance Efficiency

AWS Well-Architected Framework review VMware Aria Cost alignment
How do you select the best performing architecture?

VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth offers rightsizing recommendations to ensure you run the optimal Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances and Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes for your workloads.

VMware Aria Cost examines CPU, memory, network and storage metrics, and delivers recommended actions. Thresholds for rightsizing recommendations are customizable to meet your unique business needs.

Instance and volume rightsizing policies continuously monitor the performance of these resources and alert you to violations and/or take automated action to resolve issues.

How do you select your compute solution?
How do you select your storage solution?
How do you select your database solution?
How do you configure your networking solution?
How do you evolve your workload to take advantage of new releases?
How do you monitor your resources to ensure they are performing?
How do you use tradeoffs to improve performance?


5. Cost Optimization

AWS Well-Architected Framework review VMware Aria Cost alignment
How do you implement cloud financial management?

VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth is the solution of choice for cloud financial management, and it enables complete alignment with the cost optimization pillar.

With VMware Aria Cost Perspectives, you can organize resources into logical business groups to more easily perform showback and/or chargeback.


Manage the full lifecycle of Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances using the VMware Aria Cost Analyzer, Modifier, Optimizer and Convertible RI Exchanger.

Optimize future costs using VMware Aria Cost Reserved Instance and Savings Plans recommendations.

How do you govern usage?
How do you monitor usage and cost?
How do you decommission resources?
How do you evaluate cost when you select services?
How do you meet cost targets when you select resource type, size and number?
How do you use pricing models to reduce cost?
How do you plan for data transfer charges?
How do you manage demand and supply resources?
How do you evaluate new services?

6. Sustainability

AWS Well-Architected Framework Review
CloudHealth Alignment
How do you select regions where you implement workloads?

Sustainability goes hand in hand with cost optimization as the elimination of waste in cloud spend results in shutting down unnecessary and wasteful resources. A dollar saved in the public cloud correlates to a unit of carbon saved, meaning you can make a sustainability impact through lowering your usage efficiently.

Many features of VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth previously mentioned, such as the Health Check Pulse Report and Rightsizing Recommendations, can help you answer the necessary questions on the journey to improved sustainability.

Enact policies that help you monitor and reconcile changes in your environment that deviate from your sustainability-focused targets.

Establish a CCoE team with help from VMware Aria Cost help that drives sustainability initiatives among cloud buyers and users.

How do you identify user behavior patterns and potential improvements?
How do you identify software and architecture patterns to help minimize consumption?
How do you implement data management practices to reduce required storage?
How do you minimize impact through hardware management practices?
How do you identify opportunities to make development, test and deployment practices more sustainable?


Learn More

For partners seeking guidance on how to build VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth into your service offerings, visit cloudhealth.vmware.com or contact your channel account manager.

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The Six Pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework

  1. Operational Excellence
  2. Security
  3. Reliability
  4. Performance Efficiency
  5. Cost Optimization
  6. Sustainability

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