Building IT systems is much like building a house – it has to have a strong foundation, and all of the elements have to be put in place in the right order, at the right time. Similarly, the architecture has to be designed in such a way that all of this is taken into consideration, as are requirements and specifications.
When it comes to the cloud, the five pillars of operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimisation provide the foundation for a sturdy structure. Without all of these in place, any cloud ecosystem runs the risk of being less stable and efficient than it should be. While this approach was pioneered by AWS and forms the foundation of the AWS Well-Architected Framework, it applies to every cloud environment.
The operational excellence pillar focuses on running and monitoring systems to deliver business value, and continually improving processes and procedures. Without continuous re-evaluation of existing environments and the processes around them, it takes much longer to identify potential areas of improvement and it makes it that much harder to recognise potential problems.
In today’s ever-evolving threat landscape, security is arguably the most important pillar. Encompassing the protection of information, systems, and assets, it also helps deliver business value through risk assessments and mitigation strategies. Security is too often added on as an afterthought when a cloud architecture is designed, but it must be looked at from all angles and on multiple levels: before construction with security-led design, during use with proactive risk assessments and after incident mishaps with well-rehearsed and practised plans.
One of the biggest draw-cards of the cloud is its promise of reliability. However, there are many reasons why a cloud ecosystem could suffer from disruption. Keeping this pillar in mind when designing, implementing and maintaining a cloud environment will help ensure that infrastructure or service disruptions are minimised whenever and wherever they can, as well as ensuring that recovery is quick and easy, should it be necessary.
This pillar is all about computing resources, and their ability to meet requirements and to evolve as needs change. Allowing the architecture to be flexible and creative will open up more possibilities for the business, and it will also help ensure that the ecosystem infrastructure is working as efficiently as it can. By continuously reviewing and testing all computing resources, the business can identify where some easy tweaks can be made for the benefit of the entire infrastructure.
One of the greatest benefits of using the cloud is the lower costs when compared to on-premises infrastructure. However, oversights, short-term plans, and unstructured cloud service purchasing can result in higher costs than expected. Optimisation focuses on avoiding unnecessary costs. This includes understanding and controlling where money is being spent, selecting the most appropriate and right number of resource types, analysing spend over time, and scaling to meet business needs without overspending.
At the heart of the pillar-based approach is the understanding that constant monitoring and challenging of the current set up and process will allow the cloud environment to evolve as the business does. Without regular fine-tuning, many of the benefits of cloud won’t be achieved to their full potential.
Contact iOCO, an AWS Well-Architected partner, for a full review of your environment. Give us a call on +27 (11) 607 8512 (Alexia Siderias) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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