Monitoring Performance Efficiency Under AWS

AWS Well-Architected Framework uses five operational pillars to implement best practices that allow cloud-based systems to function efficiently. These five pillars are operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimisation. Designing cloud-based systems that operate using these five core principles is what sets the AWS Well-Architected Framework apart.

Monitoring Performance
Monitoring the performance of a workload using alerts for immediate notification of inefficiency or security breaches is the most effective way to ensure clients aren’t impacted.

Avoiding human error by creating automated notification of system degradation reduces the amount of time it takes to fix a problem. It’s essential to schedule a time to test your alert system through simulated breaches. Doing so ensures your monitoring is working correctly.

Amazon CloudWatch
Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring service that can provide you with tangible results when it comes to your system. It includes data and information about your workload while helping you respond to inefficiencies. By getting information about the cause of problems within your cloud-based system, you can better manage your response approach.

Four Phases of Monitoring
Monitoring is also an integral part of the third pillar of AWS, reliability. There are four phases to monitoring with AWS:

1. Generation
Monitoring the workload can be done using Amazon CloudWatch or another tool. Make use of the vast amount of data and log information available to understand how the cloud functions as it changes to meet current demand.

2. Aggregation
Be specific in calculations in regards to data logs and filters. Data is forwarded to CloudWatch logs when you use Amazon CloudWatch as your monitoring service.

3. Real-time processing and alarming
The system recognizes threats in real-time and sends out notifications to your organization to take immediate action. Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) can forward the alert to multiple users so that technical staff can be alerted that there is a problem.

4. Storage and analytics
Analyze the logs and files collected for trends to get a better sense of your workload. Data management can’t be overlooked, and Amazon CloudWatch is a powerful tool for analyzing your data.

It’s necessary to schedule regular reviews that look at how your monitoring service is working to perform updates for improved security and efficiency. Your business priorities should drive the way you monitor.

Get an AWS Well-Architected Review
WOLK is a proud partner of the AWS Well-Architected Program and is certified to perform your system inspections. Contact us to schedule a review that will highlight issues in your cloud-based system that need resolving.

The AWS Sustainability Pillar: An Overview of Best Practices

Although Sustainability is the newest of the six AWS Well-Architected pillars, it is equally as important as the other five. Properly incorporating sustainability into your cloud-based business requires following the best sustainability practices. Here’s an overview of the best practices for compliance with AWS Sustainability.

The Six Types of Best Practices

The recommendations and best practices for implementing sustainability fall into six broad topics:

● Region selection
● User behaviour patterns
● Software and architecture patterns
● Data patterns
● Hardware patterns
● Development and deployment process

1. Region selection

Amazon operates an array of AWS data centers worldwide in 26 different regions and 84 availability zones.

One of the best first steps to implement sustainability with your cloud business is to select one of the AWS regions closest to renewable energy projects, such as on-site solar power or wind farms.

2. User behaviour patterns

Tracking and monitoring your users’ workloads and resource consumption habits is one of the best ways to monitor your business’s energy consumption and determine whether you are meeting your sustainability goals.

Adapting to user behaviour patterns includes identifying and assessing your underused or unused assets, scaling your infrastructure to match your users’ needs precisely, and optimising your users’ hardware and resources.

3. Software and architecture patterns

The way your software is built plays a prominent role in its sustainability. Optimisation plans such as load smoothing, component refactoring, and identifying and optimising the most resource-intensive codebases help reduce resource consumption.

4. Data patterns

Data management and storage protocols are also essential for compliance with Sustainability standards. It isn’t enough to optimise your software; your data lifecycle is equally essential.

Sustainable policies and good practices include the following:

● Data classification and prioritisation
● Periodic removal of unneeded, redundant, and obsolete data
● Utilising shared file systems like Amazon Elastic File System
● Minimisation of data movement between networks

5. Hardware patterns

Good hardware management practices help consume less energy and increase compliance with the Sustainability pillar. One of the most common guidelines is to use no more than the minimum hardware for your needs.

Other good practices include prioritising instance types with the least impact and GPU usage optimisation. For example, you should only use GPU power for tasks that need it, such as rendering.

6. Development and deployment process

Sustainable product development practices range from adopting DevOps philosophies to more practical measures, such as keeping all of your workload elements up to date (operating systems, programming libraries, applications, etc.) or using device farms to test the sustainability of your development processes.

Develop Sustainably With an AWS Partner

WOLK Technology is a team of Amazon Web Services experts that can help you migrate to the cloud and ensure your business complies with AWS sustainability standards. Contact us today for more information.

Our company’s Sustainability journey:
How AWS Sustainability can help

Sustainability is the sixth pillar of the AWS Well-Architected Framework. Adopting a sustainability strategy and following the AWS Sustainability standards and best practices brings numerous benefits. However, navigating these standards can be challenging without expert help.

Working with an experienced AWS Partner can help you meet these standards and reap the benefits without disrupting your operations or compromising your security.

The principles of AWS Sustainability

Although moving out of locally managed data centers in favour of the cloud is generally beneficial for emissions and cost-effectiveness, using Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides the most benefits.

The company’s commitment to carbon emissions reduction has resulted in making Sustainability the sixth pillar of the Well-Architected Framework in December 2021. The Sustainability pillar integrates resource management, waste reduction, and environmental impact awareness into its development philosophy.

Benefits of AWS Sustainability

According to a 451 Research study commissioned by Amazon, moving away from standard enterprise infrastructure and toward AWS cloud-based solutions results in a 88% reduction in carbon emissions. AWS infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy-efficient than the average American locally-managed data center.

Even the top 10% of most energy-efficient organisations would benefit from a significant reduction (72% on average) in carbon emissions. Additionally, technological advances in renewable energies and the increasing prevalence of renewable energy solutions, such as solar farms and wind farms, indicate that carbon savings will only increase over time.

Amazon estimates that operations and infrastructure will be 100% renewable-powered by 2025 and reach net-zero emissions by 2040. This means that all companies using AWS will benefit from these sustainability efforts.

How to become AWS Sustainability compliant

Although Amazon’s efforts to improve the sustainability of its services provide passive benefits to all customers that have migrated to AWS, the customer also plays an active role under the principle of Shared Responsibility. While Amazon is responsible for the sustainability of the cloud’s infrastructure, the customer is responsible for using the services as sustainably and efficiently as possible.

Becoming compliant with AWS Sustainability standards is primarily about following a concept known as Energy-Proportional Computing: Resource usage awareness and optimisation, maximising the usage of existing instances and services, consolidating underused ones, and eliminating idle or unused services.

Work with an experienced AWS partner today

At WOLK Technology, your sustainability journey is also ours. Our team of Amazon Web Services experts can help you analyse your company’s AWS service usage, find inefficiencies and carbon-intensive services, and help you streamline your company’s energy consumption without reducing your workload capabilities or compromising security. Contact us today for more information.

AWS and Sustainability: Helping the Cloud Go Green

In 2021, Amazon introduced a new pillar to the core five of the AWS Well-Architected Framework: Sustainability. This new pillar helps businesses and customers improve the environmental impact of their workloads and usage of cloud services through what Amazon refers to as the Shared Responsibility Model of Cloud Sustainability.

According to Amazon, this model reduces energy usage by up to 80%, with plans to depend entirely on renewable energy sources by 2025. Here’s how the Sustainability pillar helps the cloud go green and how the Shared Responsibility Model works.

Essential Principles of the Shared Responsibility Model of Cloud Sustainability

The Shared Responsibility Model of Cloud Sustainability is an application of Amazon’s Shared Responsibility Model from the point of view of the Sustainability pillar. Amazon and the customer share different responsibilities for sustainability and efficiency in many of the same ways as security and data protection.

Under this model, Amazon is responsible for the sustainability and environmental impact of the cloud, whereas the customer is responsible for sustainability in the cloud. The distinction is critical, as it summarises who holds which roles.

AWS Responsibilities

The phrase “sustainability of the cloud” refers to Amazon’s role in maintaining efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable cloud infrastructure. Amazon is responsible for the following:

● Server and hardware maintenance
● Efficient and environmentally friendly cooling solutions
● Building and maintaining infrastructure to house data centers
● Management of basic utilities at data center locations such as water, power, and waste

Amazon’s role is to build, maintain, and ensure the proper operation of the buildings and hardware supporting cloud computing networks, using renewable energy and resources. According to a joint Amazon-451 Research study, an AWS data centre is 3.6x more energy efficient than the average data center.

Customer Responsibilities

Although the customer is not responsible for the underlying hardware and platforms, their role regarding compliance with the Sustainability pillar is primarily centered around efficient and sustainable utilisation of their resources.

The customer is responsible for the following:

● Sustainable data design and usage
● Efficient software application design
● Proper deployment and scaling of their platforms
● Efficient utilisation of data storage
● High code efficiency; lean, fast, and reliable code is more sustainable than heavy and complex code

It is up to the customer to identify their utilisation metrics and optimise accordingly. For example, a sustainability compliance program can help you find idling and over-utilised instances, enable instance hibernation when not in use, identify wasteful user behaviour patterns, or determine whether to scale up or down.

Optimise Your Business With a Trusted AWS Partner

At WOLK, we aim to provide efficient and sustainable IT solutions with Amazon Web Services. Partner with us and take advantage of our Well-Architected Review to ensure your business complies with all sustainability best practices.

An Overview of the AWS Well-Architected Tool

The Amazon Web Services Well-Architected Tool (AWS WA Tool) is an Amazon cloud service designed to aid you in documenting and measuring your workloads with a high degree of accuracy. The primary purpose of this tool is to provide specific guidance according to the principles of the Well-Architected Framework.

The AWS WA Tool is free and available to all AWS users through the Management Console. Here’s an overview of the WA Tool and how it works.

Workload Definition
The AWS WA Tool is designed to provide consistent and accurate measurements of your workloads, document your workload decisions, and provide recommendations to improve efficiency.

However, before the WA Tool can provide you with data, you must first define your workloads by following a few essential steps. If you manage multiple workloads, repeat these steps for each one that applies.

Workload State Documentation
Once you have defined the workload, the tool will ask you a series of questions to learn about your needs and practices according to the six pillars of the Well-Architected Framework. These six pillars are operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, cost optimisation, and sustainability.

Framework Lens and Improvement Plan
The AWS WA Tool will review the data you entered in the previous steps and identify potential vulnerabilities and risks, classifying them by severity, such as high risk or medium risk. It will then offer a multi-step improvement plan to address each risk and help your workload fully comply with the Well-Architected Framework.

● High-risk issues are operational or architectural choices that the AWS WA Tool has determined might be significantly detrimental to your business. These elements may negatively impact operations, assets, or individuals.
● Medium-risk issues are operational or architectural choices that the WA Tool believes might risk your business, but to a lesser degree than high-risk issues. These issues may also have a lesser chance of negatively affecting operations, assets, and individuals.

After determining the risk points, follow the recommendations to eliminate vulnerabilities, implement improvements, and track progress for each step.
You can identify each step with one of five markers: None, Not Started, In Progress, Complete, and Risk Acknowledged.

The first four indicate risk mitigation progress markers, whereas Risk Acknowledged is a marker typically reserved for risks your business cannot mitigate, like accepting a specific risk point and accepting all potential outcomes as possibilities.

Work With an Experienced AWS Partner
WOLK Technology understands better than anyone else that today’s workflows must perform as expected around the clock, without interruptions. For this reason, we offer tailored solutions to help ensure your AWS business is secure, reliable, and free of unnecessary risks. Contact us today for more information.

How AWS Can Help with Disaster Recovery

One of the central tenets of the Well-Architected Framework is planning for failure. Even though the goal is to avoid problems, they will still occasionally occur. If you and your team have a clear goal in place following AWS guidelines, the failure will cost you less time.

The first steps to help with disaster recovery have to do with preparation. Have backups in place and create redundant workload components.

The Well-Architected Framework has laid out five best practices to help you plan for disaster recovery.

1. Define Recovery Objectives
Define your recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) based on business goals. To create these objectives, break down your workload into categories of need. You’ll want to create five categories or less.

When determining your categories, consider whether the workload tools are internal or public. You will also want to identify the primary business driver and estimate the downtime’s impact on your business.

2. Meet Recovery Objectives
After creating your categories, you can design a disaster recovery (DR) plan that meets your objectives. Depending on the structure of your workload, you might require a multi-region strategy. AWS suggests several strategies of varying complexity and cost.

You can choose a simple backup and restore strategy, meaning you store your data in the DR region. In case of a disaster, you can restore RPO within hours and RTO within 24 hours.

The Pilot Light strategy lessens the recovery time by maintaining a small version of your core system in the DR region. RPO recovery time is minutes, and RTO is hours.

The Warm Standby strategy offers an even shorter recovery, achieving the RPO in seconds and the RTO in minutes. In this strategy, you keep a mini version of your full system always running in the DR region. In case of disaster, you can quickly increase its capacity to handle all your business’ needs.

The Multi-region Active-active strategy uses multiple AWS regions. If one region fails, you can redirect traffic to the other regions.

3. Test Disaster Recovery Implementation
Whichever strategy you choose, it’s critical to evaluate it regularly. Ensure that all backup systems are functioning and your plan meets your RPO and RTO in the correct amount of time.

4. Manage Configuration Drift
Keep an eye on your DR region, ensuring the infrastructure, data, and configuration are in good condition.

5. Automate Recovery
Use automated recovery systems like CloudEndure Disaster Recovery to remove the possibility of human error.

Schedule a Well-Architected Review
To ensure your strategies follow the guidelines of the Well-Architected Framework, schedule a Well-Architected Review. AWS Partner, WOLK can identify any issues in your designs and mitigate them for you.

Tracking and Backing Up Data with AWS

It’s essential to back up all your data regularly. However, it’s just as important to test your back-up files regularly.

The reliability pillar of the Well-Architected Framework offers guidelines to ensure your backups are safe and protected against failures. AWS also provides various options to help you safely back up your data.

Best Practices to Protect Your Backups
There are four best practices that can help ensure the safety of your data and backups. Remember to back up your applications and configuration as well, ensuring your backups meet your recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs).

● Identify and Backup All Data
Your first step is to identify all the data you want to back up. You might not need to back it up if it can be recreated from other sources and still meet your RPO. Once you’ve classified your data, you need to decide how to back it up.

As an AWS customer, you have access to their many backup options. Amazon S3 allows for the storage of multiple backup files. Several AWS services have built-in backup systems. If you use Amazon EBS, RDS or DynamoDB, you can set them to automatically backup your files, and store them elsewhere.

You can also use third-party systems to backup or store your files.

● Secure Your Backups
Just like your servers, you must ensure the security of your backups. If you use AWS’s services to create backups, enable encryption before backing up. If you use a third-party system, you might need to encrypt them yourself.

You should also restrict access to the backups. Only allow team members who require it access. Monitor the backups for any unauthorised access.

● Automate Data Backup
To ensure you always have a recent backup, use AWS Backup to automatically backup your files at regular intervals.

AWS Backup allows you to set different schedules for different workloads and to determine precisely where you want your backups stored. It enables you to create Backup Plans and Backup Vaults, giving you flexibility.

● Verify Your Backups
At regular intervals, test your backup files and procedures to ensure they meet your RTOs and RPOs.

Maintaining a Resilient Workload
If your systems aren’t fully compliant with the reliability pillar’s guidelines, you might want to set up an AWS Well-Architected Review. WOLK, a long-term AWS Partner, can identify any problem areas and mitigate them.

WOLK can help you maintain a reliable workload and ensure that your company is fully compliant with the Well-Architected Framework.

The 3 Forms of Compute Resources Under AWS

Compute resources are virtual servers and storage equipment that are accessed by multiple users. There are five pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework, including operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimisation. The fourth pillar of performance efficiency incorporates computing resources’ effective use to meet technology’s changing demands.

Forms of Compute
In AWS (Amazon Web Service), there are three different forms of computing resources.
1. Instances
These are virtualised servers available in different sizes and types. They can offer additional capabilities like solid-state drivers (SSDs) and graphics processing units (GPUs). These resources are not fixed, so you have the flexibility to try out various types of servers.
2. Containers
A virtual operating system that allows you to run applications as isolated processes. AWS Fargate and Amazon EC2 are examples of computing used to manage containers. Additionally, there are other container platforms used for AWS: Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS).
3. Functions
One example of a function is the AWS Lambda, used to extract the processors, networks, and operating systems from the code you want to write. By selecting the right Compute Resources for your needs, you can achieve more with the same number of resources, maximising efficiency.

Compute Resources and AWS
With rapidly evolving cloud technologies, it’s critical to evaluate the performance of your operating systems. Assess compute options by considering cost requirements and the demand for workload performance.

To optimise efficiency, the best compute option for your workload varies depending on several factors. Due to the ever-changing demand for cloud-based systems, it is recommended to use elasticity mechanisms where possible. Working in the cloud gives you the ability to make changes to your system with ease when necessary.

Other factors to consider in computing include storage, databases, and networks. Cloud storage holds the information in your workload and is more reliable than traditional physical server storage. Networks should be updated over time to maintain efficiency, and AWS database options continuously track your workload.

Schedule a Review
You can schedule a review with WOLK, a certified partner of the AWS Well-Architected Program. An analysis of your cloud-based system will pinpoint any weak security points or other inefficiencies to make changes for maximum results.

Free service credit applied to your account will most likely cover the cost of these changes, preventing you or your company from paying out of pocket expenses.

AWS and Designing Performance Efficiency in the Cloud

In the AWS Well-Architected Framework, five pillars include operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimisation. Performance efficiency refers to using computing resources efficiently in a cloud-based system.

Design Principles
There are five design principles for performance efficiency in the cloud.

1. Democratise advanced technology
Complex tasks assigned to your cloud vendor make adapting to technology easier on your company. Services such as machine learning and media transcoding are consumed in the cloud, rather than having a workforce team carry out these tasks.
2. Go global in minutes
Since there are various AWS regions worldwide, making your workload accessible anywhere, there is lower latency and better customer experience.
3. Use serverless architectures
As the name suggests, this technology removes the need for a physical server that must be maintained. Additionally, transaction costs are lower when services are managed in the cloud, optimising efficiency.
4. Experiment more often
With virtual and automated services, it’s easy and cost-effective to complete tests of different instances, storage, and configurations.
5. Consider mechanical sympathy
Make time to understand how cloud technology functions and choose the service that makes the most sense for your goals.

Best Practices
There are four areas of best practice when discussing performance efficiency in the cloud. These are selection, review, monitoring, and tradeoffs. Selecting the best solution for your workload is essential to maximising effectiveness and minimising your costs.

Since the AWS cloud is ever-evolving, it is a good idea to review these selections regularly. Gauging how well your solutions are working based on the data available allows you to make changes whenever objectives aren’t met.

Monitoring your workload is critical to identifying an issue before it impacts your customers. Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring service that allows you to track your workload and get a comprehensive overview of the system. Quick response times keep systems running smoothly.

When maximising your workload, consider making tradeoffs. You might trade durability or consistency for latency, depending on the target. A tradeoff increases efficiency in one area by giving a little in an area that is already performing at its best.

Work With a Leading Partner
WOLK is proud to be a leading partner of the AWS Well-Architected program and is certified to provide reviews of cloud-based systems. An appraisal is a good idea when looking to identify where your performance deficiencies lie. An inspection will get you started on making the right adjustments to get your five pillars in alignment.

Cloud Reliability: The Five AWS Design Principles

The third pillar of the AWS Well-Architected Framework is reliability. It deals with ensuring that your workloads and applications produce the same results every time.

Using the five design principles of the reliability pillar, you can create workloads and applications that are reliable for their entire lifecycle.

Automatically Recover From Failure
Automation is a vital element in the reliability pillar. Set up systems that monitor for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of your business values. When one of the KPIs reads too low or too high, your monitoring system should automatically notify you and continue tracking the problem.

You can also set up automatic recovery systems that your monitoring systems trigger when there’s a problem.

To prepare as much as possible for failure, you can set up systems that track trends, meaning they can predict future problems.

Test Recovery Procedures
Just as you test your workload’s operating procedures, you should also evaluate its recovery methods. While working the cloud, use automation to cause a failure in your workload and observe how well the recovery systems and procedures work.

It’s also possible to use automation to recreate past failures. If you’re unsure of exactly where a failure occurred, a recreation can help you determine causes and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Scale Horizontally
Instead of using one large workload, consider breaking it up into several smaller resources. If a failure occurs in an overarching workload, you might have to shut down your entire system for the repair.

Ensure you spread out your requests across the smaller resources so they don’t share a common failure.

Don’t Guess Capacity
Don’t just assume that your workload can handle the demands you place on it. One of the most common reasons that a workload fails is due to resource saturation.

Use AWS tools to monitor the demands placed on your workload and its saturation level. Create systems that automatically reduce demands when your workload approaches saturation.

Manage Change
Use automatic systems to change your workload. Automation removes human error, reducing your risk.

Changes made to automatic systems should be tracked and reviewed, preferably by another automated system.

Work with an AWS Well-Architected Partner
To ensure you are compliant with all five design principles of the reliability pillar, consider working with an experienced AWS Partner. The WOLK team stays up-to-date with the current design principles and best practices of the AWS Well-Architected Framework.

After performing a Well-Architected Review, we can identify any non-compliance issues and mitigate them for you.