AWS Deep Dive

AWS Well-Architected Framework

Questions and Best Practices

Operational Excellence

Define Operations Metrics

Obvious point: KPIs and health baselines are (desired) targets, while metrics are measurements of the actual system performance towards these.

Alert When Operations Outcomes are at Risk

Alerts without a corresponding action can lead to alert fatigue.

This is good.

When operations activities are at risk, alerts are sent to drive action. The alerts contain context on why an alert is being raised and point to a playbook to investigate or a runbook to mitigate. Where possible, runbooks are automated and notifications are sent.

Later on…

Alerts without an action should be avoided.

This is very good.

A somewhat buried point later on: Alerts are most useful if they’re not only resolved, but also analyzed in a post mortem.

A final quote (this section is very quotable):

Alerts should include a mechanism to flag them as a false-positive. This should lead to a review of the metric thresholds.

Alert When Operations Anomalies are Detected

This section is once again making the point that baselines are not necessarily static — the expected behavior of a system can vary over the course of a day, week, month, and year. These variations are important to keep in mind when building out monitoring systems and alarms.

Validate the Achievement of Outcomes and the Effectiveness of KPIs and Metrics

Apparently the point of this section is to keep your KPIs and operational health targets up-to-date?

Have a Process per Alert

Have a well-defined response (runbook or playbook), with a specifically identified owner, for any event for which you raise an alert.

Emphasis mine. The “single wringable neck” principle.

Prioritize Operational Events Based on Business Impact

On the one hand, I appreciate how turn-key AWS is trying to make everything (“have a priority for all the things!”). On the other hand, there’s very little latitude in this paradigm for individual judgement or initiative when responding to multiple failures. That’s probably the right approach for a large organization with multiple IT (related) teams… But it doesn’t feel like it will necessarily scale down.