100 Days of Cloud – Day 46: Azure Well Architected Framework

Its Day 46 of my 100 Days of Cloud Journey, and today I’m looking at Azure Well Architected Framework.

Over the course of my 100 Days journey so far, we’ve talked about and deployed multiple different types of Azure resources such as Virtual Machines, Network Security groups, VPNs, Firewalls etc.

We’ve seen how easy this is to do on a Dev-based PAYG subscription like I’m using, however for companies who wish to migrate to Azure, Microsoft provides a ‘Well Architected Framework’ which offers guidance in ensuring that any resource or solution that is deployed or architected in Azure conforms to best practices around planning, design, implementation and on-going maintenance and improvement of the solution.

The Well Architected Framework is based on 5 key pillars:

  • Reliability – this is the ability of a system to recover from failures and continue to function, which in itself is built around 2 key values:
    • Resiliency, which returns the application to a fully functional state after a failure.
    • Availability, which defines whether users can access the workload if they need to.
  • Security – protects applications and data from threats. The first thing people would think of here is “firewalls”, which would protects against threats and DDoS attacks but its not that simple. We need to build security into the application from the ground up. To do this, we can use the following areas:
    • Identity Management, such as RBAC roles and System Managed Identities.
    • Application Security, such as storing application secrets in Azure Key Vault.
    • Data sovereignty and encryption, which ensures the resource or workload and its underlying data is stored in the correct region and is encrypted using industry standards.
    • Security Resources, using tools such as Microsoft Dender for Cloud or Azure Firewall.
  • Cost Optimization – managing costs to maximize the value delivered. This can be achieved in the form of using tools such as:
    • Azure Cost Management to create budgets and cost alerts
    • Azure Migrate to assess the system load generated by your on-premise workloads to ensure thay are correctly sized in the cloud.
  • Operational Excellence – processes that keep a system running in production. In most cases, automated deployments leave little room for human error, and can not only be deployed quickly but can also be rolled back in the event of errors or failures.
  • Performance Efficiency – this is the ability of a system to adapt to changes in load. For this, we can think of tools and methodologioes such as auto-scaling, caching, data partitioning, network and storage optimization, and CDN resources in order to make sure your workloads run efficiently.

On top of all this, the Well Architected Framework has six supporting elements wrapped around it:

Diagram of the Well-Architected Framework and supporting elements.
Image Credit: Microsoft
  • Azure Well-Architected Review
  • Azure Advisor
  • Documentation
  • Partners, Support, and Services Offers
  • Reference Architectures
  • Design Principles

Azure Advisor in particular helps you follow best practises by analyzing your deployments and configuration and provides recommends solutions that can help you improve the reliability, security, cost effectiveness, performance, and operational excellence of your Azure resources. You can learn more about Azure Advisor here.

I recommend anyone who is either in the process of migration or planning to start on their Cloud Migration journey to review the Azure Well Architected Framework material to understand options and best practices when designing and developing an Azure solution. You can find the landing page for Well Architected Framework here, and the Assessments page to help on your journey is here!

Hope you all enjoyed this post, until next time!

100 Days of Cloud – Day 32: AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials Day 5

Its Day 32 of my 100 Days of Cloud journey, and its my final day of the learning on the AWS Skillbuilder course on AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials.

This is the official pre-requisite course on the AWS Skillbuilder platform (which for comparison is the AWS equivalent of Microsoft Learn) to prepare candidates for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification exam.

Let’s have a quick overview of what the final modules covered, the technologies discussed and key takeaways.

Module 9 – Migration and Innovation

Module 9 covers Migration strategies and advice you can use when moving to AWS.

We dived straight into the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) and looked at the 6 Perspectives, each of which have distinct responsibilities and helps prepare the right people across your organization prepare for the challenges ahead.

The 6 Perspectives of AWS CAF are:

  • Business – ensure that your business strategies and goals align with your IT strategies and goals.
  • People – evaluate organizational structures and roles, new skill and process requirements, and identify gaps.
  • Governance – how to update the staff skills and processes necessary to ensure business governance in the cloud.
  • Platform – uses a variety of architectural models to understand and communicate the structure of IT systems and their relationships.
  • Security – ensures that the organization meets security objectives for visibility, auditability, control, and agility.
  • Operations – defines current operating procedures and identify the process changes and training needed to implement successful cloud adoption.

We then moved on to the 6 R’s of Migration which are:

  • Rehosting – “lift and shift” move of applications with no changes.
  • Replatforming – “lift, tinker and shift”, move of applications while making changes to optimize performance in the cloud.
  • Refactoring – adding features to the app in the cloud environment that are not possible in the existing environment.
  • Repurchasing – this is redesigning the application from scratch, or replacing it with a cloud-based version.
  • Retaining – keeping some applications that are not suitable for migration in your existing environment.
  • Retiring – removing applications that are no longer needed

We then looked at the AWS Snow solutions (which is similar to Azure Data Box), which is where you use AWS-provided physical devices to transfer large amounts of data directly to AWS Data Centers as opposed to over the internet. These devices range in size from 8TB of storage up to 100PB, and can come in both storage and compute optimized versions.

Finally, the module looked at some of the cool innovation features available in AWS, such as:

  • Amazon Lex – based on Alexa, enables you to build conversational interfaces using voice and text.
  • Amazon Textract – machine learning that extracts data from scanned documents.
  • Amazon SageMaker – enables you to build train and deploy machine learning models.
  • AWS Deep Racer – my favourite one! This is an autonomous 1/18 scale race car that you can use to test reinforcement learning models.

Module 10 – The Cloud Journey

Module 10 is a short one but starts by looking at the AWS Well-Architected Framework which helps you understand how to design and operate reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective systems in the AWS Cloud.

The Well-Architected Framework is based on five pillars: 

  • Operational excellence – the ability to run and monitor systems to deliver business value.
  • Security – the ability to protect information, systems and assets while delivering business value.
  • Reliability – the ability to automatically recover from disruptions or outages using scaling.
  • Performance efficiency – the ability to use computing resources efficiently to meet demand.
  • Cost optimization – the ability to run systems to deliver business value at the lowest cost.

Finally, we looked at the six advantages of cloud computing:

  • Trade upfront expense for variable expense – pay for only the resources you use using an OpEx model.
  • Benefit from massive economies of scale – achieve a lower variable cost by availing of aggregated costs.
  • Stop guessing capacity – no more predicting how much resources you need.
  • Increase speed and agility – flexibility to deploy applications and infrastructure in minutes, while also providing more time to experiment and innovate.
  • Stop spending money running and maintaining data centers – focus more on your applications and customers instead of overheads.
  • Go global in minutes – deploy to customers around the world

Module 11 – Exam Overview

The final module gives an overview of the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam, giving a breakdown of the domains as shown below.

Image Credit – AWS Skillbuilder

The exam consists of 65 questions to be completed in 90 minutes, and the passing score is 70%. Like most exams, there are 2 types of questions:

  • A multiple-choice question has one correct response and three incorrect responses, or distractors.
  • A multiple-response question has two or more correct responses out of five or more options.

As always in any exam, the advice is:

  • Read the question in full.
  • Predict the answer before looking at the answer options.
  • Eliminate incorrect answers first.

And that’s all for today! Hope you enjoyed this mini-series of posts on AWS Core Concepts! Now I need to schedule the exam and take that first step on the AWS ladder. You should too, but more importantly, go and enroll for the course using the links at the top of the post – this is my brief summary and understanding of the Modules, but the course if well worth taking and I found it a great starting point in my AWS journey. Until next time!