REL12-BP01 Use playbooks to investigate failures - AWS Well-Architected Framework

REL12-BP01 Use playbooks to investigate failures

Permit consistent and prompt responses to failure scenarios that are not well understood, by documenting the investigation process in playbooks. Playbooks are the predefined steps performed to identify the factors contributing to a failure scenario. The results from any process step are used to determine the next steps to take until the issue is identified or escalated.

The playbook is proactive planning that you must do, to be able to take reactive actions effectively. When failure scenarios not covered by the playbook are encountered in production, first address the issue (put out the fire). Then go back and look at the steps you took to address the issue and use these to add a new entry in the playbook.

Note that playbooks are used in response to specific incidents, while runbooks are used to achieve specific outcomes. Often, runbooks are used for routine activities and playbooks are used to respond to non-routine events.

Common anti-patterns:

  • Planning to deploy a workload without knowing the processes to diagnose issues or respond to incidents.

  • Unplanned decisions about which systems to gather logs and metrics from when investigating an event.

  • Not retaining metrics and events long enough to be able to retrieve the data.

Benefits of establishing this best practice: Capturing playbooks ensures that processes can be consistently followed. Codifying your playbooks limits the introduction of errors from manual activity. Automating playbooks shortens the time to respond to an event by eliminating the requirement for team member intervention or providing them additional information when their intervention begins.

Level of risk exposed if this best practice is not established: High

Implementation guidance

  • Use playbooks to identify issues. Playbooks are documented processes to investigate issues. Allow consistent and prompt responses to failure scenarios by documenting processes in playbooks. Playbooks must contain the information and guidance necessary for an adequately skilled person to gather applicable information, identify potential sources of failure, isolate faults, and determine contributing factors (perform post-incident analysis).


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