Could you be getting more from your cloud solution? Daemon’s Head of Cloud, Paul Campbell, on the benefits of our AWS Well Architected Review
Over the last few years, we’ve established ourselves as leading experts in all things AWS. Whether it’s designing cloud solutions, assisting with cloud migrations or offering ongoing support for AWS users, our clients know that they can count on us to help them get the most out of their AWS system.
Of all our AWS services, perhaps the most popular is our AWS Well Architected Review. This has helped dozens of clients to improve the efficiency and security of their cloud solutions, a fact that hasn’t been lost on AWS themselves. Our Head of Cloud, Paul Campbell, was recently invited to speak at the AWS Well Architected Partner Day in London. We caught up with him afterwards to find out how it went, and to get an inside look at the benefits of a Well Architected Review.
Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. First of all, congratulations on a great speech! How did it feel to be part of the event?
Thank you! It was an honour, and definitely a huge accolade for Daemon. Businesses have to be approved by AWS before they can review AWS solutions, and the event was for those at the beginning of this approval process. The fact that we were invited to share our insights shows that AWS holds our work in high esteem. We’ve become their go-to example of reviews done right, and this is a real source of pride for me and for Daemon.
Could you tell us a bit more about AWS Well Architected? How does the review process work?
The AWS Well Architected Review is a structured evaluation of your cloud solution. This might sound scary, but I want to be clear that this isn’t an audit. We’re not here to rake you over the coals and get you in trouble with your managers. We want to highlight areas where you could be getting more from the cloud, and to offer practical suggestions for making this happen.
Over the years, we’ve developed a tight framework for this process. This allows us to cover all bases, ensuring that every aspect of your cloud service is doing its job. The framework consists of six pillars:
- Cost Optimisation- This is about trying to drive the most cost-effective solution for the customer. We do this by thinking ahead- selecting resources that can scale to meet the needs of the business without overspending.
- Performance Efficiency- We want to make sure that your solution performs as effectively as possible. This means identifying the right services and tools for your workload, and doing away with unnecessary extras.
- Security- We perform a full security review as part of our wider AWS review. We make sure that confidential data is kept confidential, that access is only given to those who need it and that there are systems in place to detect security breaches.
- Operational Excellence- This pillar focuses on ensuring that systems run as efficiently as possible. This isn’t just about optimising design. We want to give you the tools to monitor your operations so that you can continue to make improvements after we’re gone.
- Reliability- This is about making sure that your system can recover quickly from failures. This includes creating a recovery plan and distributing operations to ensure that failures can be contained.
- Sustainability- This pillar is really important to us as it intersects with our North Star ambitions. We want to minimise the environmental impact of the cloud as much as possible. This means making sure that processes are only running when they need to be, and ensuring that any future add-ons are designed with sustainability in mind.
Working to such a strict framework ensures a frictionless experience for the customer. We start by asking some initial questions, then we use scanning tools to collect data and feed it back to our portal. We also perform a 3D scan to create a visual depiction of the customer’s cloud set-up.
Using this information, we identify high-risk issues (HRIs). This can be anything from security weaknesses to areas of operational inefficiency. These form the basis of a remediation plan, in which we explain how we will work with the customer to fix these problems.
Daemon has been an early adopter of automation in this area. What difference has this made to the service?
It’s made a huge difference, especially from the customer’s perspective. The process used to take between three and five days, and the client would have to be present for most of this time. Now, thanks to our automated tools, we can do the whole thing in half a day.
As well as saving time, this approach achieves more accurate results. The old process involved asking the client between 90 and 100 questions. This meant that our findings were largely based on their perception, and this didn’t always reflect the reality. Our automated tools address this by harvesting reams of raw data. This is fed into our findings, allowing us to build a far more accurate picture of the current cloud solution.
What are the benefits of reviewing a cloud solution in this way?
It can be hard for companies to spot weaknesses in their own cloud architecture. We provide a fresh set of eyes, spotting inefficiencies that the customer may have missed. As certified AWS architects, we also have the knowledge and expertise to suggest effective solutions to these problems. This could mean optimising your current solution, or incorporating new applications that have appeared since the solution was put in place.
This is also helpful from a security perspective. As well as spotting inefficiencies, an external evaluator may notice security weaknesses that are invisible from the inside. We’ve seen many examples of confidential data left in the public domain without the client’s knowledge. We’ll flag up these issues and fix them immediately, protecting your data and keeping you compliant with regulations.
Finally, a Well Architected Review allows you to future-proof your business. Every change we make is designed to scale and adapt as your organisation grows. We also place a real emphasis on enablement, using every part of the process as a teaching opportunity. We don't just want to improve your cloud solution now; we want to give you the skills to keep improving it in the future.
Finally, how can people find out more about this service?