A guide to the Azure Well-Architected Framework - Part 1
The Azure WAF is a set of guiding principles that improves the quality of a workload. The framework consists of five pillars: Reliability, Security, Cost Optimisation, Operational Excellence and Performance Efficiency. Together, these pillars produce high-quality, secure and efficient cloud architecture.
Parallo works directly with customers to design and develop well-architected cloud workloads. Here is how it can help ambitious SaaS companies get to market faster – without blowing budgets.
Your SaaS company wants to release a product to the market.
So, why is the Azure WAF so important?
In our opinion, the most important reason is you’re following Microsoft’s best practices.
This has two benefits:
1. Time efficiency
Traditionally, this would involve various stages of planning and scouting hardware vendors. Once you have the budget, you place your order and hopefully receive your delivery within a few months (sometimes, it can take up to a year). Then, you install the hardware and start loading your software. At some point, you can finally start to think about launching your product.
“That whole life cycle could take a few years to complete,” explains Sean Li (Parallo Cloud Architect). “With cloud platforms like Azure, you can deploy the infrastructure as you need it, giving SaaS companies the ability to release several production versions to market quickly.”
But how does one begin this journey? The Azure WAF helps SaaS companies leverage Azure cloud capabilities to achieve time efficiency in various aspects of their product development and deployment process.
2. Cost efficiency
That traditional build and launch method also requires upfront infrastructure investment, which can hamstring you for the next two decades. With a cloud platform like Azure, you can pay for the infrastructure you need now at a minimal cost. This is especially important for SaaS companies operating on tight margins.
The Azure WAF is essential for cost efficiency because it provides SaaS companies with a structured approach to managing costs and optimising spend in your cloud environment.
An overview of the Cost Optimisation and Operational Excellence pillars
Pillar 1: Cost Optimisation
When you design a cloud solution, you want to focus on generating incremental value early. That means accelerating your time to market while avoiding budget-draining solutions.
However, migrating to the cloud doesn’t necessarily guarantee full cost efficiency. Implementing cost-efficiency practices across the company is critical to help maximise profitability for a SaaS company.
Here’s a scenario where an Azure WAF contributes to designing a cost-effective solution. A growing SaaS company has decided to modernise its workload by migrating its core platform to Azure. The company wants to ensure that it optimises costs while delivering an efficient and reliable experience to its customers.
In this scenario, the Azure WAF plays a pivotal role in helping this SaaS company optimise costs while modernising its workload. By following the guidance on resource selection, auto-scaling, cost management tools, and reserved instances, they can ensure that their modernised core platform operates efficiently and cost-effectively in the Azure cloud. This ultimately enables them to deliver an enhanced experience to their customers while maintaining control over their cloud expenses.
But, there are labour costs to consider, too:
“After you make those decisions, you’ll need an expert to help you design and implement them. There are two options: hire people or find a trusted and global Microsoft partner specialising in ISV or SaaS category to fill the gaps,” Sean advises.
Like many fast-growing SaaS businesses, our customers are laser-focused on developing their products, acquiring new customers, and optimising costs. But they also need infrastructure support from a trusted partner with a strong track record of implementing and managing Azure environments. With one customer, we worked with their team over 6 months to implement several cost saving initiatives, reducing overall costs by $87 per day or 45%.
Interested in exactly how we did this? Reach out to our team, we’re happy to have a chat.
Pillar 2: Operational Excellence
Production launch is not the end of your cloud-native platform journey. On the contrary – it’s the beginning. After you finish your production launch, you’ll switch your focus to operating your infrastructure on a daily basis, and there are many tasks involved, including:
- Operation as code: Implementing and maintaining your infrastructure through code, ensuring consistency and efficiency in your operations.
- Disaster recovery: Creating robust disaster recovery plans to safeguard your application against unforeseen events.
- Auto-scaling, monitoring and alerting: Fine-tuning your system to automatically adjust resources based on demand, while proactively monitoring and responding to potential issues.
- Application performance management: Ensuring optimal performance and responsiveness for a seamless user experience.
- Log management: Efficiently collecting, analysing, and storing logs for troubleshooting, auditing, and compliance.
- Regular infrastructure updates: Keeping your technology stack and dependencies up to date to mitigate vulnerabilities and maintain security.
Operational Excellence covers the operations and processes that keep an application running in production. If you’re a larger, more established SaaS company, you may be able to establish your own team tasked with daily operational tasks.
But, for SaaS companies with tight budgets, this isn’t likely an option. Instead, work with a trusted and global Microsoft Azure partner.
“When choosing a partner, make sure it’s a certified Azure Expert Managed Service Provider. This signifies their expertise in not only designing and implementing the Well-Architected workloads but also effectively managing your infrastructure’s daily operational tasks” says Sean.
Experts in helping SaaS companies scale effectively
The Well-Architected Framework offered by Azure is a methodical approach informed by best practices, resulting in reliable, efficient and secure application infrastructure. At Parallo, we’re proud to be a Global Azure Premier Consulting Partner, our highly experienced team members cut their teeth working in technical and leadership roles for other SaaS companies. That expertise is what we use to help you scale your SaaS business.