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April 10, 2022

How Azure Well-Architected Framework Can Help Optimize and Secure Your Azure Cloud

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Migrating workloads and infrastructure to a cloud platform such as Microsoft Azure has become a necessity for businesses. However, done without planning and proper management can significantly result in increased cost and operational overhead, and complexity.

Cloud providers such as Microsoft provide a framework to help develop risk reduction, cost optimization, and security practices to enhance your cloud ROI.

This framework is called Azure Well-Architectured Framework.

What is Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework?

The Azure Well-Architected Framework is a set of guiding principles that help you understand your solution’s design requirements and help improve the security and quality of your workloads in Azure Cloud. It is a set of best practices outlined by the Azure architects and developers that guide you in building resilient and agile applications and workloads on the cloud.

The Azure Well-Architected Frameworks also outline best practices, tools, and documentation necessary to attain your cloud adoption goals. Coming at a time when cloud environments are at a high risk of cyber-attacks, implementing the framework can go a long way in securing your Azure cloud.

Pillars of Architectural Best Practices

The Azure Well-Architected Framework is divided into five pillars of architectural best practices. These pillars are vital in helping you effectively and consistently optimize your workloads against Azure best practices and the specific priorities relevant to you or your customer’s cloud journey.

Azure Well-Architected Framework Diagram – Source: Microsoft

Here is a quick look at the five pillars of architectural best practices and design principles:

1. Reliability

Regardless of how well-built a workload is, failure is sometimes inevitable. But thanks to the reliability pillar, it focuses on helping you design and implement infrastructure and systems that can recover from failures and scale with demand.

The pillar evaluates the ability of your workload to perform its intended function correctly and consistently all the time. According to Microsoft, a reliable workload is resilient and available.

On the resiliency part, it is the capacity of your system to recover from failures and continue to function. Resiliency aims at returning your workload to a fully functioning state after a failure has occurred.

On the other hand, availability is whether your end-users can access your workload all round the clock. The design principles for ensuring your workloads are reliable include:

  • Automatic recovery from failure
  • Managing changes in automation
  • Testing incidents and recovery procedures
  • Only using the capacity, you need for your production workload
  • Distributing workloads to enhance workload availability

2. Operational Excellence

Moving your computing resources to the cloud takes advantage of only a small portion of what a cloud can offer to your organization. Besides the technical capabilities that the cloud provides, you can significantly improve your operational capabilities as well.

The operational excellence pillar of a Well-Architected framework enables you to improve developer agility and enhance your visibility into the health and performance of your systems.

The operational excellence pillar allows you to automate your system’s operations and enables them to function optimally. In addition, the Well-Architected framework has an inbuilt monitoring and diagnostics capability to detect errors and correct them on the go without interrupting workload production.

The design principles for operational excellence in include:

  • Anticipating failure
  • Learning from all operational failures
  • Refining operation procedures frequently
  • Performing operations as code
  • Making frequent, small, reversible changes

3. Cost Optimization

Cloud solutions have many hidden costs, and it’s important that you keep a close watch if you want to stay within your budget. In this regard, the cost optimization pillar of the Microsoft Well-Architected framework helps you to deliver optimum and resilient business solutions at the least cost to the user.

The cost optimization pillar provides you with essential principles to help you strike a balance between meeting your business’s goals and cost considerations. The Build-Measure-Learn-Feedback cycle, in particular, can help you to optimize your Azure cloud workloads and applications.

In other words, cost optimization in cloud architecture entails curbing unnecessary expenditures and implementing cost-effective solutions for your organization.

The design principles for the cost optimization pillar include:

  • Monitoring your workload’s overall efficiency, i.e., output vs. cost
  • Implementing cloud financial management in your organization’s overall objectives
  • Analyzing and attributing expenditure
  • Stop spending money on undifferentiated heavy lifting
  • Adopting a consumption model

4. Performance Efficiency

The performance efficiency pillar entails the ability to use computing resources to meet system requirements and to maintain that efficiency as demand changes and technologies evolve. The Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Performance Efficiency pillar gives you an overview of design principles and best practices to enable your systems to adapt seamlessly to workload changes.

These changes may include a sudden spike in traffic or accommodate new users in a different geographical area. Performance efficiency allows you to scale resources, identify and optimize potential bottlenecks and optimize your workloads for peak performance.

Consider prioritizing scalability as you design and implement your workloads. Scalability helps lower maintenance costs, improve end-user experience, and higher agility. The design principles for Performance Efficiency include:

  • Using serverless functions
  • Mechanical sympathy
  • Democratize advanced technologies
  • Experimenting more often
  • Going global in minutes

5. Security

Your organization’s data and data storage are at the core of your securable assets. Cloud environment security is about protecting the data your business uses, stores, and transmits against the ever-growing number of cyber-attacks. The data may involve sensitive data about customers’ financial information or critical line-of-business that supports your organization.

In addition to securing your cloud data, it is critical that you secure the cloud infrastructure along with the identities used to access it. Also, depending on your location, type of data you are storing, or industry, your data may be subject to additional regulatory or legal requirements.

Staying up to date with Microsoft Azure, industry recommendations, and threat intelligence allows you to evolve your threat model and control objectives. You can consider automating your security processes, testing, and validation to scale the security operations of your cloud environment. The design principles for security include:

  • Automate security best practices
  • Use multiple security controls to ensure security at all application layers
  • Protect data at rest and in transit
  • Implement a strong identity and access management
  • Enable traceability
  • Adopt a management and response policy for security incidents

The Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Recap

An occasional review of your Microsoft Azure environment through the prism of the Well-Architected Framework will help your business maintain a secure, high-performing, reliable, and efficient infrastructure on the Azure cloud.

The Azure Well-Architected Framework review aims at detecting any critical issues that require immediate remediation. In addition, the review compares your architecture to a defined baseline to identify areas that need improvements and offers you actionable guidance for further action.

The outcome of the review is a set of actions aimed at improving customer experience and optimizing your operational costs. A Well-Architected review will help you:

  • Identify critical issues with performance, cost, operations, security, and reliability so they can be addressed quickly
  • Make your workloads capable of running in a cost-optimized environment
  • Enhance cloud usage of poorly architected implementations that need remediation
  • Interpret the rapid flow of new Azure services and tap into those that address or impact your business’s real issues, such as operational excellence and cost
  • An opportunity to evaluate how you can use modern infrastructures to create a market advantage by aligning your business needs to workable goals and strategies

GOBI can help increase your cloud ROI

Migrating to Azure means your apps and data need more storage and scalability. Likewise, you'll need a reliable data recovery plan. That's where the azure Consulting experts at GOBI Technologies come in. As a trusted Microsoft partner, we have the expertise to provide an in-depth Azure adoption strategy.

We can support your migration to Azure and provide ongoing Optimization and management throughout the process. Schedule a consultation today to learn how we can help you to adapt your applications to the Azure cloud infrastructure.

Contact us to learn more about our Microsoft Azure consulting services.

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