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FTR: Everything ISV Partners Need to Know

What is the FTR? It’s not the Federal Travel Regulation from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), although that may begin to impact us sooner rather than later. Nor is it the professional wrestling tag team of Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood. No, what I’m ta.. Continue

FTR: Everything ISV Partners Need to Know
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Tad Davis

What is the FTR? It’s not the Federal Travel Regulation from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), although that may begin to impact us sooner rather than later. Nor is it the professional wrestling tag team of Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood. No, what I’m talking about is the AWS Foundational Technical Review (FTR).

The basis for the FTR is the AWS Well-Architected Framework. Let’s step into the history of this for a minute. The Well-Architected Framework started in 2012 (hard to believe it’s nearly 10 years old) and by 2013, AWS Solution Architects were performing reviews of customer workloads.

The AWS Well-Architected Framework consists of one white paper and five pillars (each with its own white paper):

By 2017, partners were trained to review workloads using the Well-Architected Framework and by November 2018, the concept of a lens came into play. Lenses extended the tenets of the Well-Architected Framework to High Performance Compute, IoT and Serverless.

That year also saw the introduction of the self-service Well-Architected Tool in the AWS Console. And at re:Invent 2020, we saw the addition of three lenses to the Well-Architected Tool: Serverless, SaaS and FTR.

Why the FTR is key

But why is the FTR important? re:Invent 2020 also launched the AWS ISV partner path. This path helps ISV partners accelerate delivery of their products to market utilizing the tenets of the Well-Architected Framework.

There are seven steps to the ISV Partner Path:

  1. Join the ISV Partner Path.
  2. Explore the APN Navigate track.
  3. Leverage APN Resources.
  4. Perform the AWS Well-Architected Review.
  5. Request an AWS Foundational Technical Review.
  6. Differentiate your business.
  7. Co-sell with AWS.

Focus on the FTR Lens

I’m now going to focus on the most important steps for you: #4 and #5. The AWS FTR Lens comes into play here. As a partner on the ISV path, you need to conduct internally, or with a partner’s help, a Well-Architected Review on your solution using the Well-Architected Framework and the FTR Lens.

What is the FTR Lens? In addition to the 52 questions in the Well-Architected Tool, which covers the five pillars, the FTR Lens presents a series of 12 questions that dive deeper into Operational Excellence, Security and Reliability. The FTR Lens comprises a more specific and prescriptive set of rules that AWS focuses on for ISV solutions. It includes questions such as, “How are you capturing foundational events?” with options to select from such as:

  • Store logs in a central account with limited access.
  • Enable CloudTrail log file integrity validation.
  • Configure CloudTrail multi-region.

Why is the FTR Lens important?

The focus of the FTR Lens is like that of the well-architected questions: to identify High Risk Issues (HRIs) in your environment and guide you to remediating those issues.

This helps you prepare for step #5: Request an AWS Foundational Technical Review. In my opinion, you should focus on any HRIs identified in the FTR Lens first, and then focus on issues in the well-architected pillars.

Remediating these issues may not be something you can do on your own and you may need to engage a trusted third party to perform a review, not to mention remediate the issues that are identified. Once you’ve taken care of the issues, it’s time to move to the next step.

Let’s call this step #4a. Review the appropriate checklists below to make sure that your solution meets the criteria. I recommend that you use these checklists when remediating any issues identified in the FTR Lens to ensure you can provide these criteria to AWS.

Notice that at the top of each URL, there’s a Self-Assessment Checklist spreadsheet you can utilize to check off the items necessary for your corresponding FTR. I prefer to use these as it allows me to provide, or demonstrate, the evidence of how the solution is meeting specific requirements.

The Well-Architected Review requirement is specifically called out in the Hosted/Managed Self-Assessment as detailed below.

WAFR-001Perform a Well-Architected Review with FTR Lens on the production workload at least yearly.

The AWS Well-Architected Tool helps you review the state of your workloads and compares them to the latest AWS architectural best practices.

This tool is based on the AWS Well-Architected Framework, which is designed to help cloud architects build secure, high-performing, resilient and efficient application infrastructure. You must perform Well-Architected Reviews, including AWS Well-Architected Framework and FTR Lens, on the production workload periodically.

After conducting the review, you should prioritize the remediation of any identified issues according to your business objectives. You are not required to complete the remediation of any issues identified in the review other than the requirements defined in this checklist.

Note that you must complete this on production workloads at least once per year. Also, you must complete the Well-Architected Review and the FTR Lens in the Well-Architected Tool.

That brings us to step #5—it’s time to request an FTR from AWS. You can log in to AWS Partner Central and in the solutions section, click “Edit.” Next, at the bottom of the solution listing, select “Yes” for “Are you ready to request a Foundational Technical Review?” AWS will then send an email to the Alliance Lead with next steps.

If the solution you need is not listed, you can create a new solution listing by clicking “New” and completing the form fields for that solution.

An AWS PSA will contact you and work with you on your FTR. Please note that to successfully complete the FTR, you need to have all FTR requirements in place. However, you do not need to remediate all issues identified in the Well-Architected Review.

If you don’t successfully complete the FTR, then you can remediate any incomplete requirements and submit documentation demonstrating remediation to the PSA handling your review.

Completing an FTR with AWS is a prerequisite for programs such as Competency, Service Ready, ISV Path and Accelerate. You’ll receive the “Reviewed by AWS” badge for your solution when you pass the FTR and pay the $2,500 APN fee.

The value of Ingram Micro Cloud

This may be a lot to absorb, but Ingram Micro Cloud can seamlessly help you with the Well-Architected review with FTR Lens, remediate the HRIs with you and guide you toward requesting an FTR.

We partner with nOps, an effective tool that makes reviews of the Well-Architected Framework with the FTR Lens much easier than trying to work through the Well-Architected Tool on your own. The great thing is that it is already integrated with the Well-Architected Tool.

To get started with an FTR, simply join our unique Activate Program, which provides the valuable resources and expertise you’ll need to build well-designed cloud solutions—and scale your cloud business through our global footprint.

Activate fills the holes in your relationships with public cloud vendors and expands some of the existing benefits you get from those—all to take your business partnerships to the next level. Interested? Sign up for our free Activate program today,