DevOpsGroup Blog Three reasons to perform a Well-Architected Review now, not later

Three reasons to perform a Well-Architected Review now, not later

Have challenges posed by Covid-19 accelerated your cloud adoption strategy? If so, now is a good time to conduct a Well-Architected Review. 

According to recent research, 40 percent of businesses say the pandemic led to an acceleration of cloud adoption plans. Rapid action was required to ensure business continuity in the face of extreme disruption and uncertainty.  

Now the initial response phase has passed, those hasty decisions and actions need revisiting to ensure they deliver lasting benefits not nasty surprises.  

Reviewing cloud-based workloads against the AWS Well-Architected Framework is a good place to start. 

What is a Well-Architected Review? 

The Well-Architected Framework offers guidance for the development of effective cloud-based systems and applications. It draws on AWS’ extensive experience running cloud applications at scale to offer recommendations in five key areas:  

  • Operational excellence  
  • Security  
  • Reliability  
  • Performance efficiency  
  • Cost optimisation  

In a Well-Architected Review, individual cloud-based workloads are assessed in relation to one or more of these areas. It’s a quick and easy way to see how the workload measures up against evolving best practice, then identify areas for improvement.  

Based on our experience, cost-optimisation is the priority area for most organisations. Following the rapid uptick in cloud adoption during the first half of 2020, we think both cost optimisation and security will be a focal point for many in Q3 and Q4. 

Performing a Well-Architected Review sooner rather than later is the best way to get ahead and ensure cloud-based workloads are focused, effective and secure.  

Three grounds for a Well-Architected Review  

1. Avoid overspend 

While cloud is touted as a cost-effective alternative to the traditional server model, overspend is a huge problem for many organisations. Research conducted for Flexera’s latest State of the Cloud Report indicates that the average organisation is 23 percent over budget on cloud spend. Yet respondents to the survey also estimated that 30 percent of cloud spend is wasted.   

There is clearly something fundamentally wrong here.  

A Well-Architected Review focused on cost-optimisation will quickly identify where the problems lie so action can be taken to put them right.   

Recommendations might include taking advantage of built-in vendor tooling to tag and monitor spend. Improving measurement and visibility in this way doesn’t cost anything and it’s the cornerstone of effective budgeting and cost management.  

2. Enhance security 

Security concerns are often cited as one of the biggest barriers to largescale cloud adoption. In the Flexera report, security and governance both make the ‘top three’ cloud challenges of 2020, mentioned by 83 percent and 79 percent of respondents respectively. 

However, while this may have traditionally delayed cloud adoption, the Covid-19 situation changed everything. The scale and immediacy of the risk to operations meant security issues were a lesser threat than widespread business interruption.  

CIOs everywhere found initiatives that would usually have taken months to unfold were pushed through in a matter of days. This was the right course of action at the right time. But it will inevitably have resulted in vulnerabilities, and they need to be addressed now that the initial phase of response is complete. 

Reviewing workloads against the Well-Architected Framework’s security pillar enables information, systems or assets that require improved protection to be singled out. 

3. Optimise costs 

Cloud cost optimisation goes further than simply avoiding overspend. It’s about ensuring investment in cloud-based systems drives tangible business benefits. And according to Flexera, this is the primary goal for 73 percent of organisations operating in the cloud.  

A Well-Architected Review presents an opportunity to evaluate workloads and look at how they can be streamlined to avoid or eliminate unnecessary costs. This could be hugely beneficial for organisations where Covid-19 increased the velocity of cloud adoption. As AWS explains: 

Design decisions are sometimes guided by haste as opposed to empirical data, as the temptation always exists to overcompensate ‘just in case’ rather than spend time benchmarking for the most cost-optimal deployment. This often leads to drastically over-provisioned and under-optimized deployments. 

When datacentre overprovisioning is replicated in a cloud environment, costs soon spiral. It’s important to provision for actual demand rather than estimated demand. DevOps automation techniques such as Infrastructure as Code can rectify this issue, enabling dynamic rightsizing of the hosting footprint.  

How to get started with Well-Architected 

Our Well-Architected Review Canvas (available for free here) offers a structured approach to workload assessment. But before you dive in, it’s a good idea to think about what will happen next.   

Check out our Well-Architected Review video tutorial for more detailed guidance here.  

Ultimately, a Well-Architected Review spotlights where improvements can be made to maximise future success. It’s about identifying and mitigating issues that might cause harm or hinder growth. Don’t forget, production workloads hosted on AWS are entitled to up to $5,000 in AWS service credits with an approved partner. If you’re looking for assistance, drop us a line at waf@devopsgroup.com.  


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