Reducing carbon emissions

Towards green cloud architecture

Companies are now held more accountable for their actions than ever before. People are switching brands based on the company’s responsible actions socially and ecologically. Technology has enabled more transparent data on companies’ actions, ensuring that the business decision makers take sustainability into account more profoundly. What does this all mean on cloud architecture’s perspective then? We’re here to enlighten you about the topic, so hold on to your seats!

Data centers require software, power, cooling, IT staff, and a lot of other stuff. Especially cooling a data center requires a massive amount of energy to keep the servers cool and running. But are cloud service providers any better? The energy footprint of the IT sector has anticipated to continue its growth, and it probably does not come as a surprise. Many companies have realized the issue and are starting to pursue greener choices. According to Greenpeace, large companies such as Facebook, Apple, and Google have made, already a few years ago, commitments to use only 100 % renewable energy. In addition, for example Amazon Web Services, AWS, is committed to operate services in most environmentally friendly way possible.

 

Cloud service providers have an ecological advantage compared to the traditional data center providers. The advantage comes from economies of scale, being able to host multiple tenants under the same infrastructure, and provide capacity in a dynamic manner to the customers. When you don’t have a possibility to access all nuts and bolts of data center or server infrastructure, the service provider can optimize everything in much larger scale. This enables the cloud service provider to utilize capacity in ways that are significantly more energy efficient than in traditional data centers.

 

Be aware that not all cloud is equally sustainable. Currently AWS has five (5) regions that are completely using renewable or compensated energy. So at the moment if you would choose AWS Stockholm region then you will not get completely renewable energy cloud services. Currently in Europe, AWS Ireland and Frankfurt regions are your choices for AWS regions for renewable or compensated energy.

 

Do not shift your responsibility to the cloud service provider. You also must utilize the cloud services efficiently in order to ensure the most ecological cloud experience. Optimizing usage of cloud resources lowers costs, and reduces unnecessary capacity. As a customer you can push towards serverless architecture with Lambdas and other managed services. Serverless will enable your cloud service provider to utilize underlying capacity with much higher efficiency.

 

If full serverless is not an option, for example by tuning your auto scaling setup and server instance types, you can find the sweet spot. Use minimal amount of capacity by default and then the service will automatically assign more capacity when needed and reduce capacity when no longer needed. So being ecological may improve your total cost of ownership (TCO) significantly as well.

 

When designing a cloud architecture, there are many requirements to consider. Such as how secure, scalable, extensive, and reusable the built cloud software should be? We’re hoping that requirements regarding environmental friendliness would become more common in the future. In the meanwhile you can find that making environmentally friendly choices does not compromise the other requirements for the system. Having ecological and sustainable design and processes could even help you to achieve other requirements and lower your TCO.

 

Don’t only focus environmental efforts in cloud or applications. Can employees work flexibly enough to reduce emissions caused by travelling? Another way to reduce the carbon print of a company is to minimize e-waste and to ensure that devices are recycled responsibly. Bring-your-own-device is nice, but what does your company’s BYOD policy state about e-waste or device manufacturers’ corporate social sustainability responsibility efforts?

 

If you made it this far, it is clear that you have motivation to move on to greener solutions. Like every company, Poplatek is still learning on how to do green cloud computing, and we hope you join us for the journey!

 


Do you know how to do cloud native software development? Read from here our latest whitepaper on cloud native software development, and learn the essentials.

Or are you interested in knowing more about how to lower your total cost of ownership (TCO)? Read our blog post about TCO.

Mika Rautio

Mika Rautio

Software Architect

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