AWS Well-Architected Tool
User Guide

What is the AWS Well-Architected Tool?

The AWS Well-Architected Tool (AWS WA Tool) is a service in the cloud that provides a consistent process for you to review and measure your architecture using AWS best practices. The AWS WA Tool provides recommendations for making your workloads more reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective.

These best practices, known as the AWS Well-Architected Framework, were developed by AWS solutions architects based on their years of experience building solutions across a wide variety of businesses. The framework provides a consistent approach for reviewing architectures and provides guidance to help implement designs that scale with your needs over time. The process for reviewing an architecture is a constructive conversation about architectural decisions, and is not an audit mechanism.

This tool is intended for those in technology roles, such as chief technology officers (CTOs), architects, developers, and operations team members.

The AWS Well-Architected Framework

The AWS Well-Architected Framework documents a set of foundational questions that enable you to understand how a specific architecture aligns with cloud best practices. The framework provides a consistent approach to evaluating systems against the qualities you expect from modern cloud-based systems, and the improvement that would be required to achieve those qualities.

By using the framework, you learn architectural best practices for designing and operating reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective systems in the cloud. It provides a way for you to consistently measure your architectures against best practices and identify areas for improvement.

The framework is based on five pillars—operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimization.

The Five Pillars of the Well-Architected Framework

Pillar name Description
Operational excellence The ability to run and monitor systems to deliver business value and to continually improve supporting processes and procedures.
Security The ability to protect information, systems, and assets while delivering business value through risk assessments and mitigation strategies.
Reliability The ability of a system to recover from infrastructure or service disruptions, dynamically acquire computing resources to meet demand, and mitigate disruptions such as misconfigurations or transient network issues.
Performance efficiency The ability to use computing resources efficiently to meet system requirements, and to maintain that efficiency as demand changes and technologies evolve.
Cost optimization The ability to run systems to deliver business value at the lowest price point.

When designing workloads, you make trade-offs between these pillars based upon your business needs. These business decisions can drive your engineering priorities. In development environments, you might optimize to reduce cost at the expense of reliability. In mission-critical solutions, you might optimize reliability and be willing to accept increased costs. In ecommerce solutions, you might prioritize performance, since customer satisfaction can drive increased revenue. Security and operational excellence are generally not traded off against the other pillars.

For much more information on the framework, see the AWS Well-Architected website.


In the AWS Well-Architected Framework:

  • A workload identifies a set of components that deliver business value. The workload is usually the level of detail that business and technology leaders communicate about. Examples of workloads are marketing websites, ecommerce websites, the backend for a mobile app, analytic platforms, etc. Workloads vary in their level of architectural complexity. They can be simple, such as a static website, or complex, such as microservices architectures with multiple data stores and many components.

  • Milestones mark key changes in your architecture as it evolves throughout the product lifecycle—design, testing, go live, and production.