The Well Architected Framework

Moha Alsouli
3 min readNov 19, 2020

The Well Architected Framework, put together by AWS, is a model to help architects and engineers design and build secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure, on any platform.

At Tigerspike, we pride ourselves on having the right people, resources and experience to design and build cutting edge technology for, and with, our customers, globally. The consultancy work that we do keeps us up to date with the latest operating, security, and architecture principles and best practices. However, without a framework, these principles and practices are always open for interpretation which makes room for flaws.

Since then, we’ve become an AWS Well Architected partner. This means: our architects always follow the Framework’s principles and understand the pros and cons of their decisions; and they’re capable of helping customers evaluate their workloads, identify areas of improvements, and prioritise remediations if any.

The Well Architected Framework describes key concepts, design principles, and architectural best practices in five pillars: Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency and Cost Optimisation. While these are explained in detail in the Framework’s documentation, we, as an AWS Well Architected partner, can add value by reviewing and evaluating workloads through a set of questions designed to address all topics in these pillars. And with the answers, we measure how well aligned is the infrastructure with the current best practices and provide guidance for improvements.

These Well Architected Reviews can cover all pillars or focus on one or two; and they can be done once or regularly throughout the workloads lifecycle - which is recommended as best practices and workloads evolve.

What are the five pillars?

  • Operational Excellence
    Focusing on running and monitoring systems to deliver business value, and continually improving processes and procedures. Key topics include automating changes, responding to events, and defining standards to manage daily operations.
  • Security
    Focusing on protecting information and systems. Key topics include confidentiality and integrity of data, identifying and managing who can do what with privilege management, protecting systems, and establishing controls to detect security events.
  • Reliability
    Focusing on ensuring a workload performs its intended function correctly and consistently when it’s expected to. A resilient workload quickly recovers from failures to meet business and customer demand. Key topics include distributed system design, recovery planning, and how to handle change.
  • Performance Efficiency
    Focusing on using IT and computing resources efficiently. Key topics include selecting the right resource types and sizes based on workload requirements, monitoring performance, and making informed decisions to maintain efficiency as business needs evolve.
  • Cost Optimisation
    Focusing on avoiding unnecessary costs. Key topics include 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.


Here are some findings from our last few reviews:

  • We helped a cost-conscious customer, who has built a reliable, operationally excellent and performance efficient workload, identify and prioritise 17 high risk items in the Security and Cost Optimisation pillars, and a couple of medium risk items in the rest of the pillars.
  • We helped a customer designing an application, with security as top priority, identify 11 high risk items in Security to focus on and address in the early stages of development.
  • We helped a customer, whose main requirement is the high availability of their applications, identify 5 high risk items in Reliability, 5 in Operational Excellence and 4 in Performance Efficiency that could all contribute to improving the availability and reliability of their applications.
Summary of a Well Architected Review output — usually followed by an Improvement Plan and Focus Items

You would be surprised how common the above scenarios are. These customers were focusing on certain requirements but overlooked a few aspects that contribute back to their requirements. Having another pair of eyes, especially an experienced one, was just what they needed. So, reach out to learn more about the Well Architected Framework and how Tigerspike can help you set up for success.

This post has also been published on Tigerspike’s website.