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Can We Improve How FT.com Got Developers To Focus on Costs in 2017?

In late 2017, the Financial Times spoke with AWS to discuss their solution for cost optimization.

This is a tricky area because builders are usually focused on making sure their solution works first, then they look to performance. Cost is usually way, way down the list. If it even makes the list.

The solution the Financial Times came up with is quite clever and delivered results quickly for them.

Now, a few years later, I react to that video and see what’s stood the test of time, what could be done simpler given today’s technology, and generally critique the design against the AWS Well-Architected Framework in a mini AWS Well-Architected Review.

The AWS Well-Architected Framework

The AWS Well-Architected Framework is designed to help you and your team make informed trade offs while building in the AWS Cloud. It’s built on five pillars;

  • Operational Excellence
  • Security
  • Cost Optimization
  • Reliability
  • Performance Efficiency

There pillars cover the primary concerns of building and running any solution. And as much as we’d all love to have everything, that’s just not possible.

…enter the framework.

It’ll help you strike the right balance for your goals to make sure that your build is the best it can be now and moving forward.

Why Architecture?

I often get asked why I talk about building in the cloud and architectural choices so often…aren’t I a security person?

Yes, I do focus on security and architecture is a critical part of that.

There’s really two types of security design work. The first is when you’re handed something and need to make sure the risks of that technology matches the risk appetite of the users.

The second type is when you’re building the technology. This is where making choices informed by security early in the process can have profound effects. You’re no longer bolting security on but building it in by design.

That’s why I talk about architecture and building so much. It’s where we all can have the largest possible security impact!

This video—and the ones that will come after—looks at a specific set of design decisions and how they balance the concerns of the AWS Well-Architected Framework…where security is one of the five pillars.

Finacial Times' Design

The Financial Times created a feedback loop for developers to provide them with regularly updated information around cost.

At first, they used metrics around the adoption of Amazon Linux as a way test the system. They had a clear goal (migrate all workloads to Amazon Linux) and used a serverless design in order to put information on the spend and adoption rates in front of the developers.

The biggest hurdle is one still in place today; accurate billing information. While AWS does provide programmatic access to billing data, it’s not great. And it’s slow.

The FInancial Times used a 3rd party partner to deliver high fidelity data in a more consistent manner. This allowed them to fuel that feedback loop so developers would see the impact of their efforts the next day.

Btw, I’ve updated my course, “Mastering The AWS Well-Architected Framework” on A Cloud Guru. If you want a solid walk through of the ideas behind the framework and how to apply it to your work in the AWS Cloud, check it out!