Well Architected in the time of COVID

Tom Henry, Account Manager at Ubertas Consulting, considers the impact of COVID and our ongoing mission to assist customers through the AWS Well Architected Framework.
The Well-Architected Framework Programme has provided great support to AWS customers since its inception and has proved to be a valuable method of helping to optimise and run their workloads in the Cloud. The framework focuses on all aspects of an AWS deployment to ensure scalable, secure, performant and cost efficient operation in the cloud.

In the 12 months prior to lockdown Ubertas Consulting conducted an average of 1 Well-Architected Review a week, each one providing an opportunity to assist a customer on their AWS journey. We pride ourselves on both our technical expertise but also on our approach to building trust through the process, often ensuring that out consultants take the time to be on-site with each and every customer.

Lockdown, and the requirement for home working poses the problem of physical distance and during the COVID-19 pandemic, like many other companies around the world we have had to adjust our approach to how we deal with the ‘normal’ day-to-day goings on of the business and that doesn’t make any allowances for how we have had to approach the process of the Well-Architected Framework and in particular the review and remediation stages which require close cooperation with the customer.

We’ve moved on from on-site workload reviews and meeting our clients face-to-face, to building a virtual rapport, carrying out entirely remote reviews and remediation planning, using Slack channels to keep communications flowing whilst in and around the remediation process.

A few of the changes we have made are as follows:
· Running the review remotely using AWS Chime
· Remote/read only access to the workloads environment to assist with preparation
· Slack channel for communication between the prep/review/remediation stages

A view from our Technical Director, Andy Hammond:

“When it comes to carrying out a Well-Architected review for a customer, stakeholders can be reluctant to give too much away. It’s our challenge to reassure them that we’re here to help. In a more restrictive working environment, it can be a real challenge to remain effective at the kind of clear communication required to build trust. During lockdown we’ve adopted new practices in order to keep the review session engaging and impactful.

Two important guidelines we have across our teams:

“Take the virtual wall down” We always have our camera on as we feel that it’s easier to communicate effectively. When we’re face-to-face we are able to more easily convey a demeanour that’s relaxed and welcoming.

“Take it steady” Rather than peppering the customer with 10 questions in the first 30 minutes, we also try to ease more gently into the review. The framework consists of 46 questions over 5 pillars and it’s easy to forget that although there are areas that must be covered within a given timeframe, the process can be intense for our customers. Many customers will have never been asked questions in this way before, and we must try to make it as natural as possible.”

And a customers view:

Having your first ever Well-Architected review is a slightly daunting challenge but Ubertas Consulting were very accommodating. I wanted to be in control of my account at all times and Ubertas were happy to let me drive the remediation actions with their guidance with the consultant never showing any sign of frustration. The consultant was also keen to ensure that I was able to understand the actions that had been taken and could replicate them in future if required. A positive experience all round and I would be keen to do this again. The biggest problem is having the discipline to not go for 2-3 hrs straight in an online meeting.”

– William Ngufor, Cloud Architect at OmPrompt

The most important message we convey with all our customers is that Well-Architected is in place to help and is one method customers can use to identify areas to work on in a fast moving technology space; it isn’t an audit or a stamp of approval.

See more About our Well-Architected Framework Program

– Tom Henry, Account Manager at Ubertas Consulting.

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