Building and managing cloud services at scale is new to most of us; we’re either building our first tranche of cloud-native applications or have started to migrate existing applications from on-premises to the cloud. In many cases we haven’t had time to prototype and pilot. We’re being driven to rapidly take businesses digital by a global pandemic and a sudden shift to remote working.
The question then is: What are the best practices for working with hyperscale clouds such as Azure? What worked well in on-premises data centers may not be a good fit for virtual infrastructures or container-based microservice orchestration using Azure. Then there’s the question of how to size and scale for the cloud, where compute resources may well be unlimited but they’re not free, and we have to account for every byte of storage and every second of CPU time.
Introducing the Azure Well-Architected Framework
Microsoft’s developer relations and professional services groups have been working to help newcomers to the cloud (as well as anyone who wants to improve existing applications). , codifying best practices and tying them into the business needs of organizations beginning a migration to the cloud.
The framework covers five key areas: managing costs, implementing an operations model, ensuring efficient performance, application reliability, and running securely. All five are part of running any application infrastructure anywhere, but each has uniquely cloud-centric requirements. Running a cloud service needs a different mix of skills, especially as it leads to having separate cloud operations, virtual infrastructure operations, and application operations teams rather than a single data center operations group.
Running an assessment
At the heart of the Azure Well-Architected Framework is to help you assess where you are in your cloud migration and how you see your priorities. Be honest in your assessment. Otherwise you’ll get a false picture of your current state which could lead to problems in the future.
Each section of the review is a brief multiple-choice quiz. Each selection roll-over details a quick tip that can help with fulfilling any requirements. It’s a useful approach, as working your way through the questionnaire may get you thinking about steps you haven’t yet taken and wish to investigate further. It’s clear that the aim of the assessment is as much to get you thinking in a cloud-centric way as it is to collect data to help you design better applications.
, which is Microsoft’s hub for Azure design patterns and best practices.
If you’ve worked with Microsoft technologies for some time you’ll remember its Patterns and Practices group; this is the current home for their work and should be a first port of call for any Azure development you’re planning, large or small.
for architects and application designers. These provide foundational self-paced training that gets your development team thinking about how to refine and tune applications for the cloud. They’re not long—six one-hour modules (one to introduce the topic and one for each pillar).
Use these tools to keep architectural guidance up to date
Once you’ve started using tools and approaches like these with your applications, it’s important to run through them regularly. Microsoft has said it will keep the Azure Well-Architected Framework updated with current Azure best practices, so as these change with the arrival of new services and new lessons learned from other customers, the framework will update.
makes it very clear that working with the cloud is about giving up managing things in exchange for scale and reliability. You’re given the option of choosing the level of control you’re comfortable with, whether you’re opting for an Azure IaaS or a PaaS to host your code.
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