Why use the AWS Well-Architected Framework?

Whether you’re working with an internal team or an outsourced consulting partner, the AWS Well-Architected Framework is an educational tool that builds awareness of steps and best practices for architecting for the AWS Cloud.

In our experience, using well-architected best practices and design principles helps you:

Plan for failure

Architecting for failure is one of the primary design principles of Well-Architected. In other words, knowing how to mitigate risk, prevent data loss, eliminate downtime and defend against security threats.

Lower or mitigate risks

Reducing or mitigating risk = minimising surprises. The Well-Architected Framework provides a thorough and comprehensive process establishing options and analyzing your choices as well as for evaluating how a particular decision could impact your business.

Make informed decisions

Specifically, helping you to understand the trade-offs involved in your decisions. Well-Architected workloads gives you choices for responding to changing business requirements or external issues. It also helps you decide the best option by evaluating the trade-offs of every one of your options. As an organisation, you should never feel forced into one option when it comes to improving your workload. The process and questions posed by the Well-Architected Framework can help both your business and technology departments examine all options and identify the route that will lead to the most favourable business impact.

Build and deploy faster

Well-Architected best practices facilitate a DevOps approach that leads to closer collaboration between engineers and business stakeholders, ensuring that your business requirements are aligned with technical goals. This saves time, resources and ensures an integrated approach allowing to build and deploy faster. Taking your business further and faster.

What is the AWS Well-Architected Framework?

AWS Solutions Architects took their many years’ experience building solutions, and designing and reviewing thousands of customers’ architectures on AWS, and identified a set of best practices for architecting systems in the cloud. The result is the AWS Well-Architected Framework.

Based on 5 pillars – Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Optimization – the Framework allows us to design and operate reliable, secure and cost-effective systems in the cloud, while sticking to best-practice architectural methodology.

The development of the AWS Well-Architected Tool has enabled regular review of workloads, identifying high risk issues and recording your improvements. Conducting a Well-Architected Review (WAR) allows a conversational approach rather than an audit process, and serves to establish well-architected systems that greatly increase the likelihood of business success.

The review documents a set of foundational questions that allow you to understand if a specific architecture aligns well with cloud best practices. The framework provides a consistent approach to evaluating systems against the qualities you expect from modern cloud-based systems, and the remediation that would be required to achieve those qualities. As AWS continues to evolve, the definition of well-architected will continue to be refined.

We begin all of our development projects with a Well-Architected Review to give clients full visibility of their workload. The precise and comprehensive nature of the Framework provides clients with essential insights that enable informed decisions that add business value.

We have years of experience architecting solutions across a wide range of business verticals and use cases, with several of our case studies being used by AWS.

About NCS/DSDAssist

“Numeric Computer Systems (NCS), has focused on the needs of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods companies for over 40 years. Over that time, we have stayed abreast of revolutionary changes in the industry, today offering the eighth generation of our solutions. In 2016, we launched the DSD Assist cloud based solution portfolio.  The DSD Assist portfolio includes a new portal application, DSD Connect, plus online-offline mobile solutions for Sales Reps, Van Sales, Delivery drivers and Merchandisers.  Added to this is a mobile-first web ordering solution”

Drivers to the Cloud

The biggest influence in the creation of the DSD Assist products and for NCS to move to a cloud-based platform was to increase reliability and availability for customers. Scalability was also a large component to allow the suite of applications to respond rapidly to increasing customer demand, primarily within the Asia Pacific market.

The anticipation of the needs of its growing customer base was also one of the reasons that drove the company to move into the cloud. A massive feature and benefit of this move as well as moving to a more modern mobile suite of applications was the decrease in onsite consultancy, and ease of use for the customer.

Why Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Moving to AWS was a natural progression for a company with such large and global growth, such as NCS, the scalability and availability allow them to readily increase and decrease the costs and performance as the customer needs changed and grew.

The move to SaaS model allowed NCS to increase its customer base rapidly, especially due to the scalability and reliability offered. “I cannot express how happy we have been with the process of moving to AWS, and the increase of reliability and scalability.” -Greg Mellis

With AWS, the company exploits a scalable, reliable, and secure worldwide computing infrastructure, the virtual backbone of Amazon.com’s multi-billion-dollar online business that has been sharpened for over a decade. On the other hand, they can also scale up or down the computing resources according to business demand and requirements. Deploying new servers as well as the reduction of superfluous resources are instantly attainable. Given NCS’ growing client base, the organization uses an expansive number of AWS Products and Services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon FSx, Application Load Balancer, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), Amazon Workspaces, Route 53, CloudFormation, CloudTrail, CloudWatch, Amazon SES, Secrets manager and more.

The Benefits of Working with AWS and WOLK Technology – an AWS Advanced consulting partner and “Amazon EC2 for Microsoft Windows” Solution Provider

This process has reduced the expenses on hardware – the company could cut down the expenditure in the installation, configuration, and maintenance of on-premise servers including power costs, physical security concerns and cooling.

AWS security and compliance is a mutual responsibility model; the double layered protection – the first layer of AWS security and the second layer of security architecture customized depending on the business requirements. NCS has benefitted from the extra security offered by AWS by opening only port 443 and further securing their client portal by using CloudFront. NCS can further protect themselves by only making their client portal available to certain geographic locations.

Prior to working with WOLK, NCS was partnered with two separate AWS Partners, they did not find a suitable fit with them either the partner was focussed on larger clients or on a more Linux focused set of services.

WOLK Technology had synergy and was recommended via AWS itself, moving forward together and investigating new technologies, including FSx.

The greatest benefit for NCS in regard to Amazon FSx for Windows File Server was ensuring logs and changing data was placed into FSx allowing multiple servers and services access to the data, reducing downtime for databases to allow for maintenance of servers.

Why Amazon FSx for Windows File Server?

A pivotal component or service of the continually evolving DSD Assist Portfolio is Amazon FSx for Windows File Server.

At the infrastructure level the addition of a resilient, redundant service for the storage of data, transactions, logs etc. increases the resiliency of the application, removing multiple data drives that were all single points of failure. What is at first glance a more expensive solution quickly becomes cost effective if you consider the removal of each disks overhead, the backing up of each disk, and the potential for multiple copies of the same data. Add data deduplication, full compatibility with Windows Server, different storage tiers the cost effectiveness is no longer the question.

At the application level using a shared storage solution reduces transfer of data between components, meaning a write once read many solution to ‘none database data’ reducing batch times and reducing demand on the application servers. With all data being written off host recovery times and recovery points reduce which aligns with the AWS Well-Architected Framework.

Looking Forward

NCS keeps on propelling themselves to new heights while working closely with WOLK Technology, the organization intends to incorporate more AWS services into the platform.

NCS look towards utilising FSx in more ways, as well as utilising the entire AWS Storage infrastructure, for example storing data in S3 as opposed to database storage. They are also looking into modifying some of their batch processing, investigating other options such as Lambda.