Principles of a Well-Architected Solution

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A Well-Architected Solution Begins with the Business

As a member of the business architect community, you already appreciate the importance and value of the discipline. The article below provides some additional perspectives on how to refocus the cloud migration conversation on the business side of the solution.  Doing so will improve the success of your technology counterparts.

Amazon Web Services has built their cloud platform on the 5 Pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework: Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Optimization. While these are excellent principles to guide the design and execution of your technology platform, this is only half of the story. Each of these principles has a parallel application on the business side of the business system, with perhaps greater impact on operational effectiveness and profitability.

Operational Excellence

On the technology dimension, Amazon advocates that operational excellence “focuses on running and monitoring systems to deliver business value, and continually improving processes and procedures”. On the business dimension, operational excellence focuses on the operational design of the business processes, information structures as well as the organizational and geographic distribution of these business processes. Does the business process enable the operational variability of the business? Does the organization monitor business metrics to continually improve the design of the business process? 

Security

From a technology perspective, Amazon states that security “focuses on protecting information and systems” and they provide the necessary tools to do just that. But having the tools isn’t the complete solution. Security begins with the business decisions regarding how to define the roles, which functions they can perform, what data can that role see, and who should be assigned to each role.  Once created, this Security needs to be managed as processes are enhanced, departments are realigned, or people change position.

Reliability

Amazon states that the reliability pillar “focuses on ensuring a workload performs its intended function correctly and consistently when it’s expected to.” From a business perspective are the business inputs to the process complete, accurate, and reliable? The most important input is the data that the business process consumes. Is the organization’s data and data management processes designed, managed, and governed to ensure the highest data quality? If the data isn’t reliable then the output of the process can’t be reliable.

Performance Efficiency

From a technical perspective, the Performance Efficiency pillar “focuses on using IT and computing resources efficiently.” While important, we should ask if the business process uses labor and other business resources efficiently? Performance efficiency begins with the design of the business process that is being automated. 

Cost Optimization

On the technical front, AWS advocates that Cost Optimization “includes the ability to run systems to deliver business value at the lowest price point.” On the business front, are the business processes designed in a cost optimized manner? Is information captured at its source? Are errors identified and corrected at the earliest point? Are your business processes designed to eliminate redundant data entry? Is data owned, managed, and governed as a strategic asset with well-defined distribution methods? Are there defined books of records for each business function? A well-designed business process is cost-optimized.

Conclusion

Applying the 5 Pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework to your technology platform will result in efficient, secure, reliable, and optimized execution of your applications. However, companies that apply these five principles to the design of their business processes and information structures will generate significant improvements to their operational effectiveness and profitability.

Hunt Consulting Group offers Digital Transformation Design training that enables organizations to consistently create well-architected business solutions that create a sustainable competitive advantage by design. 

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