Building applications in the cloud is significantly on the rise. More businesses and organizations are switching to using the cloud. Whether they’re looking to glean helpful insights from the immense amount of data that can be leveraged from the cloud or interested in better operational efficiency, there’s no denying that businesses are flocking to the cloud at faster rates. And why shouldn’t they? Using the cloud can be very flexible and meet a wide range of business needs while creating a better / seamless customer and client (or merely a user) experience. Part of working in the cloud involves building applications in the cloud for various purposes. When building cloud applications, using the idea of a well architected framework is crucial to success. Here are four benefits and a quick primer on using the well architected framework model for your cloud applications.
What It Is
To fully appreciate the benefits of the well architected framework in your cloud applications, it’s important to know what it is in the first place. In simple terms, it’s a system of guidelines to use when you’re building cloud applications and workloads in Amazon Web Services (AWS) or other cloud providers. It’s also applicable to any cloud based applications, so if you’re not strictly using AWS it can still be useful in principle. The idea behind a well architected framework hinges on several different pillars. These are operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimization. The idea behind the framework is to serve as a guide to evaluating, understanding, and creating high quality, functional cloud applications.
Security within the cloud is always something of concern. Misconfiguration, Identity and access management, poor security visibility, lack of a threat response strategy, and myriad other concerns can become significant problems if left unchecked If you’re building your cloud applications on the ideas of the well architected framework, then security is already deeply reinforced and covered quite well. But there’s always room for improvement and additional security layers. If you’re building a cloud application using the guidelines of the well architected framework, then here are a few design principles to follow:
- Implement a strong identity foundation and establish login privileges
- Monitor and trace everything
- Apply security at all layers and use multi-factor authentication
- Automate security best practices across all processes
- Protect data in transit and at rest (use encryption and other methods to secure it)
- Keep people away from data and protect it as much as possible
- Prepare for security events, breaches, DDoS attacks, and other potential issues
Following these design principles and understanding how they work in conjunction with each other to create a secure environment is critical to any well architected design.
An application’s efficiency is defined by how well it works. Technically speaking this basically just refers to using your resources efficiently. Much of this section will be governed by what business processes and functions you need your application to perform. When you measure that, it’s easier to implement more efficient operations. Optimizing efficiency can be neatly summed up in four steps: selection, review, monitoring, and trade offs. First off you’ll need to select your cloud resources based on well architected framework criteria. For the computing selection, you need to decide if you are using instances, containers, or functions. This will largely depend on the applications used and what business processes for which you are making it. After that, it’s critical to determine how to achieve optimal performance and what type of cloud storage will be necessary for the application.
In any programming related application, consistency is super important. Application consistency can be achieved under the operational excellence pillar. Creating a system to monitor and deliver your business processes while also improving them is the core conceit of operational excellence. You have to focus on designing it around your business’s needs and the information structures / geographical distribution of those processes. There needs to be a way to monitor processes to ensure optimal operations. During this phase of design, it’s essential to look for failure points and learn from them. Make small, reversible changes in the code so that the process of debugging can be simplified. Continually refine and re-examine the operational efficiency of your application to maximize its potential and make it the best it can be.
In order for your applications to be considered well architected, they need to be reliable. It seems simple enough on the surface, but reliability in this sense actually has a much more nuanced meaning. This is the part where scaling, monitoring, tracking, and all of those security measures you implemented before coming into play to ensure the reliability of an application. Understanding your business’s requirements is crucial to making this work to its best ability. Ensuring automatic detection of issues or failure points and a response system to those issues is one of the best ways to ensure the reliability of an application. At the end of the day, reliability does not occur by accident. It is designed intentionally and meticulously to ensure the best possible outcome under any potential circumstances.