To help you build secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient solutions on AWS, in 2015 we publicly launched the AWS Well-Architected Framework. It started as a single whitepaper but has expanded to include domain-specific lenses, hands-on labs, and the AWS Well-Architected Tool (available at no cost in the AWS Management Console) that provides a mechanism for regularly evaluating your workloads, identifying high risk issues, and recording your improvements.
To offer more workload-specific advice, in 2017 we extended the framework with the concept of “lens” to go beyond a general perspective and enter specific technology domains. Now, to help accelerate building Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, the AWS SaaS Factory team has led an effort to build a new AWS Well-Architected SaaS Lens.
SaaS is a licensing and delivery model by which software is centrally managed and hosted by a provider and available to customers on a subscription basis. In this way, software providers can innovate rapidly, optimize their costs, and gain operational efficiencies. At the same time, customers benefit from simplified IT management, speed, and a pay-for-what-you-use business model.
The Well-Architected SaaS Lens adds questions to the tool that are tailored to SaaS workloads and intended to drive critical thinking for developing and operating SaaS workloads. Each question has a list of best practices, and each best practice has a list of improvement plans to help guide you in implementing them. AWS Solution Architects from the AWS SaaS Factory Program, having worked with thousands of software developers and AWS Partners, view these well-architected patterns as a key component of building and operating a SaaS architecture on AWS.
Using the SaaS Lens in the Well-Architected Tool
In the Well-Architected Tool console, I start by defining my workload. Today, I’m reviewing a pre-production environment of a SaaS application. It’s just a minimum viable product (MVP) version of what I want to build, with just enough features to be usable and get a first feedback.
Now, I can choose which lenses to apply. The AWS Well-Architected Framework is there by default. I select the SaaS Lens. This is adding a set of additional questions that help me understand how to design, deploy, and architect my SaaS workload following the framework best practices. Other lenses are available in the tool, for example the Serverless Lens described here.
Now, I start my review. Many questions in the SaaS Lens are focused on how you are managing a multi-tenant application. This is the first question for the Operational Excellence pillar. I can also add some notes to explain my answer better or take note of what I want to improve.
I don’t need to answer all questions to start improving my SaaS application. For example, this is the improvement plan based on my answer to the previous question. For each point here, I can click and get more information on how to implement that on AWS.
Moving to the Reliability pillar, I feel more confident because of the techniques I used to separate individual tenants of my SaaS application in their own “sandbox” environment.
As I expect, no risks are detected this time!
When I finish reviewing the SaaS Lens for my workload, I get an overview of the detected risks. Here, I can also save a milestone that I can use later to compare my status and estimate my improvements.
Just below that, I get a suggestion on what to focus on next. Again, I can click and get in-depth suggestion on how to mitigate the risk.
As often happens in IT services, this is an iterative process. The AWS Well-Architected Tool helps quantify the risks and gives me a path to follow to continuously improve my SaaS application.
The SaaS Lens is available today in all regions where the AWS Well-Architected Tool is offered, as described in the AWS Regional Services List. It can be applied to existing workloads, or used for new workloads you define in the tool.
There are no costs in using the AWS Well-Architected Tool; you can use it to improve the application you are working on, or to get visibility into multiple workloads used by the department or area you are working with.
Learn more about the new SaaS Lens and get started today with the AWS Well-Architected Tool!