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Well-Architected Framework:Introduction

Last Updated:Sep 25, 2023

Compared to traditional IDC environments, the infrastructure and services of cloud computing are constantly and rapidly iterating and evolving. For cloud users, it becomes particularly challenging to maintain a robust cloud architecture during the processes of cloud migration, utilization, and management. For cloud-based applications, reliability, security, performance, and cost constitute the most universal abstractions in architectural design and encase the key dimensions that organizations should focus on. Based on our experience serving customers across various industries over the years, we have summarized the best practices of architectural design on Alibaba Cloud into a series of methodologies and design principles. Thus, we have established the Alibaba Cloud Well-Architected Framework to assist cloud users in building good to excellent cloud architectures.

The Alibaba Cloud Well-Architected Framework encompasses the following five pillars of architectural best practices:

  • Security: Identify internal and external security requirements and regulatory demands. Plan and implement comprehensive solutions for network security, identity security, host security, and data security within a cloud environment while continuously detecting and promptly responding to threats.

  • Reliability: Regardless of the environment, everything fails over time. The goal of reliability is to minimize the overall impact of individual component failures. This pillar focuses on how to utilize the infrastructure of modern cloud platforms to achieve high availability in business systems, design for failure, and ensure disaster resilience. It also controls the change process of application systems, deployment architecture, configuration standards, etc., establishes enterprise application governance standards, and sets governance standards at the workload level.

  • Cost Optimization: Use technical means to understand the cost distribution of cloud resources and help businesses balance business objectives and cloud costs. Enhance cloud services' efficient usage to build business applications, boost the match between cloud environment and business needs, avoid resource wastage, cut unnecessary cloud expenditures, and enhance operational efficiency through continuous optimization.

  • Operational Excellence: Emphasize on the building and utilization of tools and systems related to application development and operation states. Also, it requires considering how organizations respond to applications, workloads, resources, events, etc., define daily operational procedures, and guide enterprises in building their operation models.

  • Performance Efficiency: Adopt elastic scaling capabilities based on performance monitoring indicators, rely on the elasticity of the cloud platform to cope with traffic peaks, establish a centralized observability system to assist in locating performance bottlenecks. Establish performance baselines through performance testing tools, verify architectural design objectives, and continuously optimize.

Based on these five pillars, the Well-Architected Framework provides corresponding design principles and best practices, along with deployable solutions. Simultaneously, the Well-Architected Framework provides free architectural evaluation tools and metrics models to assess the gap between current architectural designs and expected values and offers corresponding improvement guidance and solutions. During the design and implementation process, Alibaba Cloud provides professional services and certified partners to assist in architectural evolution. The Alibaba Cloud Well-Architected Framework caters to Chief Technology Officers (CTOs), architects, operations, security, and research and development roles. By understanding the best practices and solutions defined in the Well-Architected Framework, these functional roles within the organization can constantly compare the application architecture with the best practices in the Well-Architected Framework and continuously iterate and improve the architecture. Thus, it reduces risks, controls costs, enhances efficiency, and solidifies the foundation for rapid business development.