A Short Guide to Building a Well-Architected, Cloud-Based Framework

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A well-architected, cloud-based framework can be used as a guideline or linchpin for your organization's applications. Here's a short guide.

Working in the cloud is one of the most efficient, cost-effective ways to do business today. Having a secure cloud environment in which to work and knowing how to design applications to perform optimally within the cloud are both quintessential these days. One of the best ways to hit those marks is to leverage the concept of a well-architected, cloud-based framework.

A cloud-based framework provides a guideline or linchpin for your own organization’s applications. It offers an easy-to-use method that requires some dedication and effort. Ultimately, however, it leads to tremendous success.

Below is a short guide to building a well-architected, cloud-based framework. It covers the benefits as well as a few ways you can use it for your own cloud applications.

The Well-Architected, Cloud-Based Framework Defined

At a glance, a well-architected framework is just a series of guidelines. It’s intended to help users build high-performing applications in the cloud. The framework rests upon five different pillars to accomplish its goals. These are:

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

Using these five pillars to create the infrastructure of an application or workload is key to building highly efficient and functional applications within the cloud. Using the first four pillars as a guideline to create your application eventually leads to maximizing the value you get from the fifth pillar in the long run.

A well-architected framework is also useful for reviewing proposed or existing architecture prior to building an application.


The operational pillar governs running your workloads efficiently and constantly finding ways to evolve/improve the program. In this stage, you should be writing operations as code. Why? So the principles used in the operations can be cross applied to every aspect of your cloud environment, including apps and infrastructure.

This is also the pillar where you should be figuring out where possible points of failure might be and writing code to address those points of failure. This can be accomplished by writing small, reversible changes into your code. That way, when an error does occur, it doesn’t become a needle in a haystack search to find the issue.

Failure is a great teacher. The operations pillar is a wonderful learning opportunity. If something fails here, you can share the information with your team. You can make sure it doesn’t happen again or make a better version of the application in the future.


Just like the operations pillar, the security pillar is a vital part of applying the principles of a well-architected framework to your applications. There are actually seven key principles in the security pillar worth following.

Start off with some basic security measures such as appropriate authorization levels and privileges for your application. Anyone who isn’t authorized to access an app shouldn’t be able to do so without proper credentials.

Next, monitoring is super important. You should implement security protocols to trace and monitor data and access across the board. Using layered security that automates your security as code is also essential. Protect your data using encryption, authorization tokens, and other access control mechanisms.

Finally, maintain tight access controls to any possible data. The fewer hands in the pot, the better. Maintaining the security and integrity of an application is not terribly difficult assuming you’re able to implement and follow security best practices.


When studying and implementing the five well-architected framework pillars, be sure to pay particular attention to your app’s performance. How well your program performs is going to be a key indicator of whether or not it’s a viable or useful application.

Some design considerations here are to use advanced technologies to your advantage. Consider using them as a service while letting the cloud provider do the heavy lifting so to speak. Don’t be afraid to experiment a little bit with your designs, especially with regard to infrastructure and configuration. Use the virtualization features of the cloud to test the performance of your application.

Finally, you’ll need to attempt to understand how your application and data are going to be accessed and used through the application.

While these are the core tenets of the performance pillar, they are by no means the only considerations to take when designing a program. To ensure a well-architected application, perform your due diligence. Do plenty of testing before launching anything.


Reliability in an application is perhaps one of the most important considerations.

When you’re looking for scalability and reliability in a program, you’ll want to limit failure points. Designing your program to have the least amount of failure points — or at least to understand where these points occur — is one surefire way to ensure reliability.

Be sure to test recovery procedures. Consider building an auto-recovery feature into the application.

Using smaller resources to build your application can result in better scalability and keep multiple systems isolated from each other. The last thing to do is never try to guess the capacity of how many users will be on your application at any time. Let the system do that for you and scale it appropriately.

Following some basic design principles here can ensure a reliable application that doesn’t require much debugging or redesign.

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Becca Williams is a writer, editor, and small business owner. She writes a column for Smallbiztechnology.com and many more major media outlets.