The 5 Pillars of Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework

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The 5 Pillars of Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework

Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework is a set of rules and guidelines assisting enterprises in enhancing the quality of workloads on cloud. Determining whether the architecture can withstand the failure of critical components is an important area for any organization to consider. No matter the vendor, budget, or infrastructure, some fundamental principles apply to all scenarios. Here are five pillars of the Azure Well-Architected Framework that help enterprises design, build, and continuously develop and improve efficient, reliable, and secure applications. 

Five Pillars of the Azure Well-Architected Framework

Azure documentation details how each pillar is tested and monitored. This article describes key practices that help you design strong applications on cloud.

Cost Optimization Pillar

For all cloud users, cost optimization is the primary architectural pillar. Although reducing resource usage is one of the major ways of cost optimization, Azure customers must make sure that their cost-optimization choices don’t compromise performance. This pillar helps prevent potential cost spikes and increased billing to control overall cloud computing expenses.

Azure helps you pay for what you use using a pay-as-you-go mechanism. As organizations design their architecture, they should be able to identify and eliminate waste all across their environment. To help determine and control cloud spends, Azure additionally offers pricing calculators, budgeting and reporting tools as well.

Design principles for cost optimization

  • Choose the right resources: Azure recommends using compute-optimized as well as memory-optimized resources. These services offer the best value for your budget.
  • Flexible budgets: Azure users need to understand how performance improvement affects costs. Fixed budgets may only work for short-term workloads. As a best practice, it is vital to plan your scaling in advance. Use dynamic allocation instead of allocating cloud budgets evenly, to ensure flexible billing month on month. Dynamic allocation ensures spending more only during your most productive times of the year.
  • Optimize your workload: Always terminate zombie resources, as they amplify your cloud billing. You can also reconfigure underutilized resources to control costs.
  • Use real-time monitoring: Always run frequent cost checks to understand the state of your cloud spends. Azure has real-time monitoring tools that can alert you about the spike in costs.

Security Pillar

The Azure security pillar focuses on protecting data and systems, controlling access (IAM), identifying potential security threats, and mitigating the impact of security incidents. It also includes authentication and protection of applications and data from attacks and threats over networks for both new and advanced cloud users.

Design principles for security pillar

  • Utilize least privilege access: Azure allows you to create rules that restrict user access to resources. Data exfiltration can be prevented by setting rules that limit access to authorized individuals only.
  • Data encryption: Use end-to-end encryption to secure communication between users on cloud.
  • Create a disaster response plan: Set up a control center to anticipate potential online threats. Implement security scanning suggestions to stop the spread of intruding threats.
  • Securing transition nodes: Azure suggests classifying data based on risk. Secure each data cluster using a micro-segmentation strategy.

Reliability Pillar     

By building high availability into application components and eliminating a single point of failure, you can improve the reliability of your architecture. Organizations should thoroughly analyze potential high availability capabilities in relation to service level agreements while ensuring adequate coverage and identifying key areas for improvement.         

Design principles for reliability pillar

  • Design for customer: Make sure your applications can address and resolve critical issues. Azure advises using a user-friendly interface that makes it simple for people to find what they’re looking for. The objective is to always fulfill or exceed user needs as stated in the SLA (service level agreement).
  • Well-built applications: Your infrastructure should be able to predict what the user wants and assist them in taking corrective measures. For self-healing of crashed applications, use predefined Azure remediation procedures.
  • Defects in automated solutions: For 99% availability, use horizontal and vertical scaling by Azure. Horizontal scaling is the process of adding new instances of a resource to scale out. E.g.: Creating VMs or DB replicas. Vertical scaling also known as scaling up is increasing the capacity of a resource. For e.g. Using a larger VM size. With scalability, the current average and peak time of workloads can be predicted for enterprises to look at becoming more elastic, economical and resilient on cloud.

Performance Efficiency Pillar

The performance efficiency pillar guides you on how to efficiently adjust your workload to meet user demands. Here, the vendor balances client demand with the resources that are available to an application. In order to achieve optimum performance, implement scaling of resources, optimize potential bottlenecks, and perfect a variety of systems for best performance.

Design principles for performance pillar

  • Build responsive web applications on mobile, tablet, and desktop clients using media queries and viewport technology.
  • Make sure your desktop application is running in all browsers.
  • Set performance metrics, run tests, and evaluate performance against the set metrics.
  • Improve performance with data and recommendations from monitoring tools.

Operational Excellence Pillar

This pillar gives you a complete picture of the functionality of your applications. This way, cloud providers and customers ensure that their users have the best possible experience after migration. By ensuring operational excellence, companies can also shorten their development and release cycles.

Design principles for operational excellence pillar

  • Consistently design high-quality modernized architecture using continuous integration and DevOps, provision infrastructure as code and automation testing to optimize build and release processes.
  • Implement systems and processes to keep a check on operational health. Extend alerting capabilities, enable proactive mitigation of issues and implement better monitoring of infrastructure and application health on cloud.
  • Perform disaster recovery practices and chaos engineering on periodic basis to record and rectify drawbacks as well as strengthen application reliability on cloud.
  • Undertake continuous assessments and development for continual operational enhancements, reduce complexity, optimize incompetency to improve processes and evaluate new opportunities on regular basis.


Architecture is the foundation of an organization’s application design. The Azure Well-Architected Framework helps organizations ensure their architecture meets customer requirements at any given point in time. CloudEnsure works on top of the Azure Well-Architected Framework, enabling users to achieve cost optimization, security, compliance, and more. CloudEnsure helps you validate your cloud resources against Well-Architected best practices to ensure you’re running robust workloads.

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