The Five Pillars Of A Well-Architected Framework (And Why We Adhere To Them)

Posted by ClearCloud

It’s impossible to build and deploy cloud environments without quality infrastructure. If little thought has been paid to the foundations of your development, each module you add threatens the integrity of the entire solution.

So, to prevent this from being the case, AWS created their Well-Architected Framework to educate users and highlight what best practice looks like. According to AWS, provided cloud architects follow the framework, they should be able to build secure and high-performing infrastructure for their applications – guaranteed.

But don’t think this is some impenetrable doctrine. The Well-Architected Framework can be broken down into five pillars and the best way to work through them is to conduct a well-architected review. This can be carried out by a Well-Architected competency partner, approved by AWS to deliver. To give you a flavour, below we cover all pillars and explore the impact of each on best practice.

Operational excellence

Operational excellence concerns the proficiency of your processes. Simply put, there’s no point embracing the cloud if the end result doesn’t deliver business value or enhance your current output. As cloud architects, you need to be running and monitoring systems so that they support organisations in this very capacity.

According to AWS, when creating your system, you need to establish and apply procedures to respond to operational events. Your ops team (whether your internal experts or outsourced cloud consultants) need to report on the effectiveness of these procedures and optimise their efforts accordingly.

What’s more, be certain that your infrastructure reflects your changing business context. It isn’t enough to tweak your infrastructure when business needs change or your service evolves. In order to achieve operational excellence, you need to proactively look for ways to refine your cloud solution and keep it relevant to your organisation.


Patching over gaps in your infrastructure will lead to vulnerabilities. Cloud is already a leap for some businesses anxious about having data stored off-site. As architects, the only way to address their apprehension is to demonstrate how you can protect information, systems and assets ahead of adoption and then apply to all layers.

The second pillar doesn’t just concern the building process though, it requires regular risk assessments and the implementation of mitigation strategies. Specifically, AWS guidance dictates that you need to outline who will be in control of what and you must identify (and inventory) what it is you’re protecting.

You also need a well-defined process for responding to security incidents – both in terms of financial loss and public critique. If you store client data, remember that it is a GDPR requirement to have these procedures in place in case of emergency. You’ll need to prove there were measures in position to prevent this from happening.


In cases of emergency outside of cyberattacks, your system needs to have a good recovery rate or could suffer equally disastrous consequences. If disrupted or suffering network issues, you need to be able to manage the change in automation and automatically recover from failure.

In this sense, Reliability is similar to Operational Excellence – however, provided you’ve built these processes into your infrastructure, the system should detect failure and address it without user intervention. That is to say, automation of your emergency procedures.

Of course, to achieve this you need to put these rules in place at the foundation stages of your adoption. Check at the scoping out stage that you have sufficient network bandwidth to your data centre for example – otherwise your recovery procedures will fail.

Performance efficiency

Performance efficiency relates to users maximising the benefits of computing resources so that the system runs with complete success. It might sound complicated but, in reality, this pillar refers to the adoption of a data-driven approach when embracing the cloud to support your decisions when building applications.

You shouldn’t wing cloud adoption. Nor should you build applications without regularly reflecting on data that you’ve collated from every experiment you’ve made, or environment built. It’s this reviewal of information that ensures high-performance infrastructure and will allow you to more easily democratise advanced technologies.

You might feel uncomfortable at first venturing into cloud and tinkering with applications to broaden your practical knowledge. However, with the safety net of a cloud consultancy you can effectively find the optimal solution through varying your approach.

Cost optimisation

By far one of the most common reasons for joining the cloud, cost optimisation concerns the removal of unneeded charges and unnecessary expenditure. Where before businesses were expected to pay license fees and routine maintenance for their hardware, cloud offers the freedom to pay for what you use.

But, as with the other pillars, there are certain things to consider. Do you want the cloud to be optimised for speed to market or for cost-saving capabilities? There are also some elements of the cloud that can incur hidden costs. Some platforms for instance can charge you based on traffic – a danger if you suddenly garner mass attention.

A well-architected cloud system will, however, use the most cost-effective resources which in turn will have a significant impact.

Our approach

Worried about your solution? At ClearCloud, we’re certified to conduct Well-Architected reviews of your AWS set-up. Not only will we assess your current infrastructure, but also suggest ways to refine for future developments.

It’s for this reason that the five pillars are as important to our service as they are to your solution. We have a shared responsibility to ensuring our client’s adhere to best practice and are committed to delivering on your security and compliance goals.

If you’d be interested in having your environment stress-tested and submitted for our seal of approval, you can do so by requesting a callback today.

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