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AWS Restructures and Consolidates Its Well-Architected Framework

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AWS published a new set of updates to its Well-Architected Framework, with changes across all six pillars of the framework. The performance efficiency and operational excellence pillars have been restructured and consolidated to reduce the number of best practices. Other pillars received improved implementation guidance, including recommendations and steps on reusable architecture patterns.

AWS Well-Architectured Framework, first published in 2012, underwent several significant changes over the years. These days, it spans six pillars, each one containing many best practices and guidance on applying them to help cloud users improve the design, implementation, and operations of their cloud workloads. Previously, the framework was updated in April, providing improved implementation guidance.

AWS Well-Architected Framework Timeline (Source: AWS Architecture Blog)

This set of updates focuses on consolidating best practices and improving the implementation guidance to make adopting the framework easier for companies. As part of recent changes, the performance efficiency pillar has been completely restructured, and after consolidating and merging, the number of best practices was reduced by ten to 32. At the same time, two new best practices were introduced, covering efficient caching and optimizing hardware acceleration.

Another pillar that saw the most changes was the one covering operational excellence. After consolidating best practices across four areas (observability design and operations, deployments, operational health), 12 best practices were removed. Further best practices were updated with improved prescriptive guidance.

The security pillar received a new best practice and improved implementation guidance, while the reliability pillar got updates to seven best practices. Lastly, the cost optimization pillar got improved implementation guidance to ten best practices, and the sustainability pillar has updated risk levels on seven best practices.

Haleh Najafzadeh, senior solutions architecture manager at AWS, provides a summary of updates to the framework:

This Well-Architected release includes updates and improvements to 90 best practices: Operational Excellence (26), Security (8), Reliability (7), Performance Efficiency (32), Cost Optimization (10), and Sustainability (7). These changes are in addition to the 151 improved best practices released in 2023 [...], resulting in more than 73% of the existing Framework best practices updated at least once in the last year.

Additionally, the latest version of the Well-Architectured Framework contains additions or updates across several AWS services, including Trusted Advisor, Config, Budgets and Organizations, EventBridge, CloudWatch, SNS, and ElastiCache, just to name a few.

Updates included in the release are available in the AWS Well-Architected Tool, which is helpful to asses cloud workloads against best practices included in the framework.

Other cloud providers offer similar frameworks for their respective platforms: the Google Cloud Architecture Framework describes best practices and provides recommendations on Google Cloud, while Microsoft offers the Azure Well-Architected Framework (WAF).

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