A well-architected journey from start-up to scale-up
Today we are going to discuss Anaeko's AWS Well-Architected review process, hear from companies that have been through the process, and how Anaeko delivers the well-architected process.
Anaeko provide professional services to companies, both large and small, to help them maximise the value of Amazon Web Services (AWS). We are a multi-cloud data and analytics company, so we work not only with AWS but also with other platforms.
Today's session is focused on how to make the most of the AWS platform and its services, as AWS is recognised as the leading cloud provider for public cloud. With a wide range of services, it can be challenging for customers to keep up with the changes. Our role is to focus on specific areas to guide people through this process.
As a small company with about 60 people, operating since 2004, our vision is to be a go-to collaboration partner, building and operating secure, sustainable, and ethical data and analytics platforms. Our mission is to deliver environmental and societal benefits through timely access to quality data. We work across various sectors, collaborating with technology and service providers, as well as government bodies.
AWS has created a framework over the years to provide an industry-agnostic approach to focus on six key perspectives. These include operational excellence, performance efficiency, cost optimisation, security, reliability, and sustainability.
Our company provides a free Well-Architected Review service as an AWS Services partner, aligning with their framework. This service allows us to understand organisations better and offer tailored solutions. We have various productised offers, such as security refreshes and observability dashboards, available on the AWS Marketplace and government Cloud G-Cloud.
Our goal is to be a valuable partner to Amazon Web Services, understanding and assisting organisations in their cloud journey.
The Well-Architected Review Process, developed by AWS, has evolved over several years to provide a framework applicable across industries and use cases. It emphasises six key perspectives. Operational Excellence is one of these pillars, focusing on efficient system running and monitoring, especially crucial for organisations scaling up. Performance efficiency involves optimising the use of compute and Cloud resources to meet consumer expectations and deliver a top-notch customer experience. This ties into cost optimisation, as more efficiency contributes to cost-effective use of on-demand cloud services.
It's evident that the importance of these pillars evolves over time. Initially, acquiring customers might be a priority, but as the customer base grows, managing costs becomes crucial. Security is paramount, given the rising cyber threats globally, with the UK ranking as the third most targeted country. This became even more pronounced during the pandemic, where changes in health data management and remote working altered security perimeters, providing new opportunities for hackers.
Reliability is another pillar, emphasising the need for services to run consistently and be dependable. The sustainability perspective has gained importance, reflecting a growing interest in environmentally friendly practices. AWS, for instance, places a strong emphasis on a green agenda. The sustainability pillar, a recent addition, considers the organisation's impact on the environment, engineering practices, and data security.
The Anaeko Well-Architected Review Process
The framework originated in 2015 with the release of a white paper, serving as a comprehensive guide for best practices derived from the experiences of numerous AWS customers and experts. It encompasses all facets of software delivery, from planning and design to operation and support. Initially, the vastness of the framework was overwhelming, prompting the need for a focused approach.
The framework is designed for continuous improvement, with updates occurring regularly. To make it more digestible, a three-step interview-driven process was developed, spanning three weeks, followed by a reporting session in the fourth week. This process is aimed at being simple, repeatable, and minimally intrusive on the client's time.
The first week involves a broad discussion about the organisation, teams, processes, and interactions. It helps identify concerns and priorities. The second week, labeled the Engineering Workshop, delves into technical aspects, including platform choices, performance characteristics, and discussions on monitoring, alerting, and automation. Surprisingly, most organisations are already making appropriate engineering choices, leading to ideas for future improvements rather than immediate changes.
In the third week, the focus shifts to security, especially data security. The AWS Well-Architected Framework sets rigorous standards in this area, acknowledging that security is an ongoing process with continuous room for improvement. The process concludes with a report in the fourth week, presenting two separate reports: one from the AWS framework tool and a bespoke report summarising observations, commendations, and recommendations. This shorter, more readable report is intended for internal sharing and includes suggestions for simple adjustments and short projects, aligned with the organisation's priorities and future ambitions.
The ultimate goal is to provide clients with a clear understanding of their strengths, impartial and actionable advice, and targeted recommendations that align with their priorities.
Hello, I'm Gerry Murtagh, the co-founder and chief product officer of Regtick. My background involves leading large-scale regulatory and digital transformation programs in leading financial institutions globally. Recognising the potential to leverage technology for increased efficiency in compliance processes, Regtick was established. We offer a clear path to compliance, reducing the risk and cost of compliance activities for firms within their strategic goals.
Regtick serves as a digital thread, guiding firms through various key activities in the value life cycle. This includes understanding new regulations, simplifying project setups, sequencing complex tasks like client outreach, and recording all steps for regulated entities, essential for regulatory reporting. Our choice of AWS is driven by its global scalability and rapid time-to-market capabilities, crucial for a startup exploring experimentation and prototyping.
As we transition from startup to scale-up, finding our product-market fit, our clientele includes large listed firms with a global presence. AWS's Well-Architected Framework ensures our infrastructure aligns with our growth ambitions. Our unique selling points revolve around being designed from experience, ensuring time-to-value, operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, cost optimisation, sustainability, real-time collaboration, and robust audit records.
We envision becoming the App Store of regulations, providing firms with out-of-the-box templates and addressing the increasing importance of sustainability in compliance. The integration of real-time chat and collaboration, along with secure and optimised retention of evidence for up to seven years, ensures our platform meets the evolving needs of our growing clientele.
I'm Jason Leigh, responsible for product management and development at Exploristics. We're not your typical software company; we operate as a data analytics company in the Life Sciences sector. Our clientele spans from big pharmaceutical companies to small biotechs engaged in clinical trials. The majority of our team comprises statisticians, data scientists, and statistical programmers specialising in analytics related to disease areas and therapeutics.
Founded in 2009 by Aiden Flynn, who has a strong background in clinical trials, we aim to address the issues leading to approximately 90% of trial failures. These failures result from inadequate planning, lack of well-defined endpoints, and unattainable goals. Our primary focus is on Kerus Cloud, a simulation platform generating large data sets for population simulations based on disease attributes, trial demographics, and compound knowledge.
The platform requires significant computing power and handles vast amounts of data. As we evolved from initial versions to a functional solution, the limitations of local platforms prompted our move to AWS. AWS provides scalability, allowing us to adjust computing power according to our needs, avoiding excessive costs associated with traditional supercomputing.
Established since 2009, we are no longer a startup but fall more into the scale-up category. While the company has grown, our software is at a scaling point, shifting from internal service usage to a broader application. Kerus Cloud has been instrumental in our consultancy services, facilitating efficient trial designs and data-driven decision-making, especially during the challenges posed by events like the pandemic.
Our decision to adopt AWS stems from its versatility, providing computing power, services, security, and adaptability to emerging technologies. The Well-Architected Review was pivotal for us to assess our current setup and identify areas for improvement. Given our industry's sensitivity to security, the review focused on ensuring our practices align with the highest standards. This review not only validates our existing security measures but also identifies potential enhancements.
The Well-Architected Framework allows us to understand what we are doing right, areas for improvement, and how to optimise performance in the future. The resulting document from the review serves as internal leverage, particularly when dealing with non-technical stakeholders who are interested in specific features and functionalities.
I am Chris Johnston, CEO, from Adoreboard, and our focus is on quantifying employee and customer trust. We predict the dollar impact of resolving friction points in both customer and employee experiences. Our diverse customer base includes companies like Amazon, All State, and Proctor and Gamble. For instance, Healthscope, the largest private hospital in Australia, conducts 8,000 patient surveys monthly, resulting in a significant manual effort to extract actionable insights.
Adoreboard's role is to eliminate manual analysis, providing speed to insight, helping organisations swiftly act on patient feedback to enhance the overall experience. Moreover, we predict the impact of potential actions on operational metrics and the bottom line, essentially forming an automatic business case for change. For example, Healthscope identified issues with ill-fitting pressure cuffs, leading to a 10% increase in patient satisfaction when resolved.
Our engagement with Anaeko was crucial for addressing challenges, especially since 50% of our customers are in the Fortune 1000, and 75% are based in the US. Anaeko's assistance was pivotal in improving our sales cycle by 50% and preparing for ISO 27001 certification. They provided a clear and understandable report outlining steps for credential processes, access control, and encryption, allowing us to proactively address elements before the ISO audit.
Security is our top pillar, but the engagement with Anaeko positively impacted various aspects, making the technical elements understandable and actionable for business impact. This approach has helped us achieve ISO status and enhance our overall architecture.
Question: "What would you recommend to somebody who hasn't gone through the process? Who would benefit and why?"
Gerry: "I think it's probably peace of mind. It's knowing that when dealing with customers, you can be truthful in your responses by saying, 'Here's the standards that we've been built to, and we've passed an independent review.' So, I think it's that. Knowing that, in the future, there are no real gotchas to be concerned about."
Jason: "I would just say it's a painless process, much more painless than I was expecting. Very little of your time is needed. The heavy lifting is done by Alan and Roger, and you don't feel like you've lost out by not doing more work. You actually get a really useful report that you can use for many things, including marketing and sales, as well as internal benefits."
Chris: "I would focus on risk. For me, risk was reduced as a result of this process. Considering Anaeko as a trusted advisor, both from an objective viewpoint regarding meeting AWS standards and adding value to the conversation, has been beneficial. That's the summary from our perspective."
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