Deepening Well-Architected guidance for workloads hosted on Azure
Published Nov 14 2023 08:25 AM 12.9K Views

I am excited to announce a comprehensive refresh of the Well-Architected Framework for designing and running optimized workloads on Azure. Customers will not only get great, consistent guidance for making architectural trade-offs for their workloads, but they’ll also have much more precise instructions on how to implement this guidance within the context of their organization.



Cloud services have become an essential part of the success of most companies today. The scale and flexibility of the cloud offer organizations the ability to optimize and innovate in ways not previously possible. As organizations continue to expand cloud services as part of their IT strategies, it is important to establish standards that create a culture of excellence that enables teams to fully realize the benefits of the modern technologies available in the cloud.


At Microsoft, we put huge importance on helping customers be successful and publish guidance that teaches every step of the journey and how to establish those standards. For Azure, that collection of adoption and architecture guidance is referred to as Azure Patterns and Practices.


The Patterns and Practices guidance has three main elements:

Each element focuses on different parts of the overall adoption of Azure and speaks to specific audiences, such as WAF and workload teams.


What is a workload?

The term workload in the context of the Well-Architected Framework refers to a collection of application resources, data, and supporting infrastructure that function together towards a defined business goal.




Well-architected is a state that is achieved and maintained through design and continuous improvement. You optimize through a design process that results in an architecture that delivers what the business needs while minimizing risk and expense.


For us, the workload standard of excellence is defined in the Well-architected Framework - a set of principles, considerations, and trade-offs that cover the core elements of workload architecture. As with all of the Well-architected Framework content, this guidance is based on proven experience from Microsoft’s customer-facing technical experts. The Well-architected Framework continues to receive updates from working with customers, partners, and our technical teams. 


Today we have published updates across each of the core pillars of WAF which represent a huge amount of experience and learning from across Microsoft.


The refreshed and expanded Well-Architected Framework brings together guidance to help workload teams design, build, and optimize great workloads in the cloud. It is intended to shape discussions and decisions within workload teams and help create standards that should be applied continuously to all workloads.


Details of the refreshed Well-Architected Framework

Over the past six months, Microsoft’s cloud solution architects refreshed the Well-Architected Framework by compiling the learnings and experience of over 10,000 engagements that had leveraged the WAF and its assessment.


All five pillars of the Well-Architected Framework now follow a common structure that consists exclusively of design principles, design review checklists, trade-offs, recommendation guides, and cloud design patterns.



Design principles. Presents goal-oriented principles that build a foundation for the workload. Each principle includes a set of recommended approaches and the benefits of taking those approaches. The principles for each pillar have changed in terms of content and coverage.

Design review checklists. Lists roughly codified recommendations that drive action. Use the checklists during the design phase of your new workload and to evaluate brownfield workloads.


Trade-offs. Describes tradeoffs with other pillars. Many design decisions force a tradeoff. It's vital to understand how achieving the goals of one pillar might make achieving the goals of another pillar more challenging.

Recommendation guides. Every design review checklist recommendation is associated with one or more guides. They explain the key strategies to fulfill that recommendation. They also include how Azure can facilitate workload design to help achieve that recommendation. Some of these guides are new, and others are refreshed versions of guides that cover a similar concept.

The recommendation guides include trade-offs along with risks.

  • This icon indicates a trade-off: brauerblogs_4-1699799668144.png
  • This icon indicates a risk: brauerblogs_5-1699799668145.png



Cloud design patterns. Build your design on proven, common architecture patterns. The Azure Architecture Center maintains the Cloud Design Patterns catalog. Each pillar includes descriptions of the cloud design patterns that are relevant to the goals of the pillar and how they support the pillar.



The Well-Architected Review assessment has also been refreshed. Specifically, the "Core Well-Architected Review" option now aligns to the new content structure in the Well-Architected Framework. Every question in every pillar maps to the design review checklist for that pillar. All choices for the questions correlate to the recommendation guides for the related checklist item.


Using the guidance

The Well-architected Framework is intended to help workload teams throughout the process of designing and running workloads in the cloud.


Here are three key ways in which the guidance can help your team be successful:

  1. Use the Well-architected Framework as the basis for your organization’s approach to designing and improving cloud workloads.
  2. Establish the concept of achieving and maintaining a state of well-architected as a best practice for all workload teams
  3. Regularly review each workload to find opportunities to optimize further – use learnings from operations and new technology capabilities to refine elements such as running costs, or attributes aligned to performance, reliability, or security


To learn more, see the new hub page for the Well-Architected Framework:


Dom Allen has also created a great, 6-minute video on the Azure Enablement Show


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‎Nov 14 2023 09:14 AM
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