Every day, experts at AWS assist customers in architecting systems to take advantage of best practices in the cloud. We work with you on making architectural trade-offs as your designs evolve. As you deploy these systems into live environments, we learn how well these systems perform and the consequences of those trade-offs.

Based on what we have learned, we have created the AWS Well-Architected Framework, which provides a consistent set of best practices for customers and partners to evaluate architectures, and provides a set of questions you can use to evaluate how well an architecture is aligned to AWS best practices.

The AWS Well-Architected Framework is based on five pillars — operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimization.

The pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework

Name Description
Operational Excellence The ability to support development and run workloads effectively, gain insight into their operations, and to continuously improve supporting processes and procedures to deliver business value.
Security The ability to protect data, systems, and assets to take advantage of cloud technologies to improve your security.
Reliability The ability of a workload to perform its intended function correctly and consistently when it’s expected to. This includes the ability to operate and test the workload through its total lifecycle. This paper provides in-depth, best practice guidance for implementing reliable workloads on AWS.
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.

In the AWS Well-Architected Framework, we use these terms:

When architecting workloads, you make trade-offs between pillars based on your business context. These business decisions can drive your engineering priorities. You might optimize to reduce cost at the expense of reliability in development environments, or, for mission-critical solutions, you might optimize reliability with increased costs. In ecommerce solutions, performance can affect revenue and customer propensity to buy. Security and operational excellence are generally not traded-off against the other pillars.