Deepening well-architected guidance for workloads hosted on Azure - Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program
Dec 05,2023

Deepening well-architected guidance for workloads hosted on Azure

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Our guest contributor for today’s blog is Pankaj Srivastava, Senior Director of Azure Business Strategy. 

Cloud services have opened the door to a new era of customer success, empowering them to build with the unprecedented scale and flexibility that cloud offers. We regularly hear stories from partners about how their customers are using Microsoft Azure to optimize and innovate in ways not previously possible. As these cloud services become a larger share of organizations’ IT strategies, it is our responsibility to come alongside and help them establish standards of excellence so they can realize benefits in a smart and secure way.  

To do this more effectively, Microsoft has completed a comprehensive refresh of the Azure Well-Architected Framework (WAF) for designing and running optimized workloads on Azure. As announced at Microsoft Ignite 2023, it is now available to partners and customers.  

Drawing on learnings from over 10,000 engagements, the updated framework contains guidance for making architectural trade-offs in cloud workloads as well as much more precise instruction on how users can implement this guidance within the context of their organization. To leverage this guidance more effectively within your engagements, you can apply the Well-Architected Review, which has also gone through a massive update reflecting the WAF refresh. 

Azure Patterns and Practices  

As part of our commitment to helping customers be successful, Microsoft curates guidance that teaches customers and partners every step of the cloud adoption journey, including how to establish standards for their practice. For Azure, this collection of adoption and architecture guidance is referred to as Azure Patterns and Practices. 

The Patterns and Practices guidance has three main elements that each focus on a different part of the overall adoption of Azure and speak to specific audiences. There is organization-wide adoption guidance in the Cloud Adoption Framework and architecture references in the Azure Architecture Center, but today we are looking specifically at the workload-focused design guidance in the Well-Architected Framework

What is the Well-Architected Framework? 

This framework is designed to inform the collection of application resources, data, and supporting infrastructure that function together towards a customers’ defined business goal. Within this resource, you’ll find a set of principles, considerations, and trade-offs across the core elements of workload architecture — everything that builds toward a culture of excellence among workload teams.  

Information covers five pillars that should each be carefully considered and balanced: 

  • Reliability 
  • Security 
  • Cost Optimization 
  • Operational Excellence 
  • Performance Efficiency

New updates and resources 

The refreshed and expanded Well-Architected Framework brings together the latest guidance to help workload teams design, build, and optimize great workloads in the cloud. It is intended to shape discussions and decisions within workload teams and help create standards that should be applied continuously to all workloads. 

All five pillars of the framework now follow a common structure that consists of design principles, design review checklists, trade-offs, recommendation guides, and cloud design pattern: 

Design principles: Goal-oriented principles that form a foundation for the workload. Each principle includes a set of recommended approaches and their benefits. The principles for each pillar have been updated in terms of content and coverage. 

Design review checklists: Roughly codified recommendations that drive action. Use the checklists during the design phase of your new workload and to evaluate brownfield workloads. 

Trade-offs: Descriptions of how design decisions may force a trade-off with other pillars. It’s vital to understand how achieving the goals of one pillar might make achieving the goals of another pillar more challenging. 

Recommendation guides: Key strategies for fulfilling recommendations from the design review checklists, including how Azure can facilitate workload design to help achieve that recommendation. Each recommendation is associated with one or more guides; some are new, and others are refreshed versions of guides that covered a similar concept. The recommendation guides include trade-offs along with risks. 

Cloud design patterns: Proven, common architecture patterns for building your design on. Each pillar includes descriptions of the cloud design patterns that are relevant to the goals of the pillar. The Azure Architecture Center maintains the full Cloud Design Patterns catalog.  

Using the framework 

Partners and customers can leverage the Well-Architected Framework to help workload teams throughout the process of designing and running workloads in the cloud. Here are three key ways to put it into action: 

  • Use the framework as the basis for an organization’s approach to designing and improving cloud workloads. 
  • Establish the concept of achieving and maintaining a state of well-architected as a best practice for all workload teams. 
  • Regularly review each workload to find opportunities to optimize further, using learnings from operations and new technology capabilities to refine elements such as running costs or attributes aligned to performance, reliability, or security. 

The best way to become familiar with and access the benefits of the Well-Architected Framework is by visiting this site. Here, you’ll find links to videos, learning modules, and the full Well-Architected Review.  

You can further deepen your Azure practice with partner training opportunities and explore the Azure Hero Partner Offerings to accelerate deal velocity with offers for AI Advantage and Azure Innovate. By increasing our joint knowledge around cloud excellence, we’ll instill greater customer confidence in adopting and thriving on Azure. 

Click here to join the Azure partner community discussion board.