Lesson 5: Trust the Well-Architected Framework

4 minute read
Content level: Intermediate

Welcome to this multi-part series aimed at empowering startups, DIY enthusiasts, recent graduates, and established businesses to build a robust video streaming infrastructure on AWS. The goal? To ensure your infrastructure is resilient against external threats, without compromising the agility required in today's fast-paced business environments. Too often, in a rush to showcase results, security measures get sidelined. In this article, we'll arm you with best practices to avoid common pitfalls.

Welcome to the fifth, and final, installment in my series that has highlighted lessons learned from actual AWS customers. This last installment is more a philosophical discussion about how to build a very safe and well rounded presence at AWS by operating within a prescribed set of guiding principles that, if adhered to, will keep you safe and allow you to operate at peak efficiency. By the way, check out my last article: Lesson 4: Monitor Your Spending

Now, there are Six pillars of the well-architected framework: Operational Excellence Pillar, Security Pillar, Reliability Pillar, Sustainability Pillar, Performance Efficiency Pillar, and the Cost Optimization Pillar. In the interests of brevity, I won't discuss all of the pillars (you can read up on them). But, I will mention how my customers could have benefitted if they had designed their architecture with some of the Pillars in Mind.

First off, Security: The security pillar focuses on protecting information and systems. Key topics include confidentiality and integrity of data, managing user permissions, and establishing controls to detect security events.

If my customer had paid more attention to security, that customer could have prevented having their streaming channel hijacked and incurring lots of unforeseen charges. I feel I should mention that the well-architected framework is a process, and topics should be revisited regularly. At some point, you have to realize that you have become a big company and that if you do not upgrade your security protections, then you have more to lose when an attack comes. Notice I said, when - not if.

Next, the Performance Efficiency Pillar: The performance efficiency pillar focuses on structured and streamlined allocation of IT and computing resources. Key topics include selecting resource types and sizes optimized for workload requirements, monitoring performance, and maintaining efficiency as business needs evolve.

The main takeaway here is monitoring of performance. If our client had set up monitoring of their AWS services, and setup alarms to warn them when stats were way out of range, then they could have been alerted to the hijacking of the stream and been able to intervene early on.

The fundamentals of the AWS Well-Architected Framework, stemming from extensive customer interactions, resemble the foundation upon which one would build a house. The framework guides users in building a robust AWS foundation. I encourage you to delve into the framework's six pillars on the AWS website. Embracing these best practices can transform your infrastructure, paving the way for future success.

Last, we will speak of the Operation Excellence Pillar: The operational excellence pillar focuses on running and monitoring systems, and continually improving processes and procedures. Key topics include automating changes, responding to events, and defining standards to manage daily operations.

The main thing here is to anticipate failure-expect that someone will hijack your channel, or a natural disaster may cause a region to go down and cause an outage for your service? What will you do? How will you recover? It is also important to learn from your failures and make sure that those lessons are communicated across all of your teams.

You can read up on the Well-Architected Framework here. Also check out the well architected tool: The AWS Well-Architected Tool is designed to help you review the state of your applications and workloads against architectural best practices, identify opportunities for improvement, and track progress over time.

Summary: In the dynamic world of video streaming, establishing a robust and secure infrastructure is paramount. As technology evolves, so do potential threats. By leveraging AWS's comprehensive suite of services and adhering to its best practices, you can build a resilient streaming environment that's not only adaptive to change but also cost-effective. Whether you're a startup or an established business, AWS provides the tools and guidelines to safeguard your content, manage costs, and ensure a seamless experience for your audience.