Sustainability in AWS cloud

On September 19, 2019, Amazon and Global Optimism announced The Climate Pledge, a commitment to meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early. During the keynote speech at the recent Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in London, AWS UK&I VP & GM Darren Hardman talked about this commitment to be net zero carbon across all AWS global operations by 2040. Here I have summarised the discussions from the Summit, along with my own thoughts and the contribution GFT is making towards reducing energy consumption.

At GFT, we have made major pledges towards a sustainable future, implementing our global GreenCoding initiative to support this commitment.

What is sustainability and how does it drive business growth?

According to the United Nations (UN), “Sustainability meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainability impacts multiple areas and has become a strategic priority for many organisations. Major challenges that customers face include:

  • How do I identify carbon emission hotspots?
  • How do I reduce energy and water usage in my operations?
  • How can I innovate faster to achieve sustainability transformation?
  • How do I collaborate with others in my value chain to reduce carbon emissions?

A growing number of companies are undergoing digital transformation programmes and are switching their datacentres to renewable energy sources, or seeking more carbon-friendly solutions from their partners. Moving their operations to public cloud significantly lowers carbon emissions and electricity consumption. For these organisations, leveraging cloud technology with an experienced partner such as GFT is essential to building successful digital ecosystems and meeting their sustainability goals.

How does AWS cloud help?

AWS is focused on efficiency and continuous innovation across its global infrastructure, as it continues on its journey to be operating on 100% renewable energy by 2025, which is way ahead of the originally planned target of 2035.

AWS can lower the carbon footprint of an average client-managed on-premise datacentre workload by nearly 80% right now, and by up to 96% once AWS is ultimately powered by 100% renewable energy.

Cloud servers are responsible for the largest contribution to this energy efficiency, with more than 67% of the reduction being due to their being more energy efficient, and with much greater utilisation. AWS datacentres also enable another 13% reduction by using power and cooling systems that are more efficient than on-premise, bringing overall energy savings to 80%.

As AWS continues to increase its use of renewable energy globally, this could further reduce the carbon footprint of workloads moved to the cloud by up to 16%. In Europe, AWS is already up to five times more energy efficient than the typical EU enterprise infrastructure.

With a shared responsibility model, AWS is responsible for the “sustainability of the cloud”, whilst AWS customers are responsible for “sustainability in the cloud”, by creating efficient cloud-native applications.

Therefore, by migrating to AWS and tapping into the sustainability benefits of the cloud, enterprises can significantly reduce their carbon emissions.

Sustainability in the cloud

AWS introduced the ‘Sustainability Pillar’ to their business model to help organisations improve their sustainability in the cloud. A ‘well-architected’ pillar for sustainability will help businesses to:

  • Understand the environmental impacts of the services used
  • Quantify the impacts through the entire workload lifecycle
  • Apply best practices to reduce these impacts

Customers can optimise workloads using these pillars and the AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool to track, measure, review and forecast the carbon emissions generated from their AWS usage. Here are some tips we have identified to optimise workloads in AWS:

  • Improve power efficiency by switching to Graviton-based instances
  • Choose serverless when possible
  • Integrate AWS Instance Scheduler to shut down and terminate workloads when not in use
  • Use AWS Cost Explorer for right-sizing recommendations of workloads

Sustainability through the AWS cloud – Data & Machine Learning

Data is crucial to addressing sustainability. By prioritising data, enterprises can stay ahead of new and changing regulatory standards. With sustainability through the AWS cloud, customers can use AWS to work on projects that help them meet their overall sustainability goals. AWS provides the broadest selection of analytics services that fit all data analytics needs and enable organisations of all sizes and industries to reinvent their business with data.

Companies are increasingly looking to add Machine Learning capabilities to industrial environments, such as manufacturing facilities, fulfilment centres and food processing plants. For these customers, data has become the connective tissue that holds their complex industrial systems together. Organisations can benefit from many AWS purpose-built Machine Learning and Internet Of Things (IOT) services for asset-intensive use cases. These include:

  • AWS IoT SiteWise – to collect data and generate real-time performance metrics from industrial equipment
  • AWS IoT Twin Maker – to optimise operations, by easily creating digital twins of real-world systems
  • Amazon Lookout – to detect abnormal machine behaviour, using existing industrial sensor data
  • Amazon Monitron – an end-to-end system for equipment monitoring, to detect abnormal machine behaviour and enable predictive maintenance
  • AWS Panorama Appliance – a hardware appliance to add computer vision to existing onsite cameras

By working with an AWS partner such as GFT to migrate to the cloud, organisations can become more sustainable, more competitive and take the lead in areas including finance, governance and people. By doing this, forward-thinking and outward-looking companies will be well-positioned to secure their future and maintain long-term growth.

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