How can you lower your environmental footprint with AWS?

We put the question to Ductus AWS expert and Principal Solutions Architect Max Block to get his thoughts and find out more about how Ductus can help organizations achieve this.

Max Block, Principal Solutions Architect, Data Ductus

Tell us a bit about AWS and the sustainability pillar

AWS has the goal of being 100% sustainable by 2040, which has seen them start to utilize green energy, for example, from a commercial windfarm in Sweden. In December 2021, AWS released its Sustainability Pillar for the AWS Well-Architected Framework. In a shared responsibility model, AWS make their services available in a sustainable manner and it’s up to users to utilize them in the way they see fit. The six pillars are there to guide you to build a stable foundation, so you can focus on the other aspects of your system. The six pillars of the Framework consist of:

  • Reliability 
  • Cost optimization  
  • Operational Excellence  
  • Security 
  • Reliability  
  • Sustainability 

How can Ductus help companies to be more sustainable in the cloud?

At Ductus we help a lot of organizations with their cloud strategy, development and management. And as a company committed to helping our clients improve sustainability through IT – without impacting performance – the cloud is a great way to deliver that. But, when moving to the cloud, it’s easy to get carried away with the different available offerings. So much so, that many companies oversubscribe. Often what’s needed is a critical eye from someone who can analyze the requirements and architect a scalable solution that can meet the needs of today with a roadmap for the future.

Not surprisingly, there is a direct correlation between energy consumption – and thus your environmental impact – and costs. If you can minimize the servers, machines, and services in use, you also reduce your billing. In the cloud, it pays to be efficient, in more ways than one.

“In the cloud, it pays to be efficient, in more ways than one.”

Max Block, Principal Solutions Architect, Data Ductus

What is involved?

Of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Using fewer machines as little as possible requires an in-depth knowledge of the AWS environment. Machine usage and storage metrics must be analyzed to identify the necessary capacity, which usually varies based on the time of day or day of the week. It also pays to avoid overprovisioning. One way is serverless, which has auto-scaling built-in by the cloud provider, another is defining auto-scaling yourself. For some workloads spot instances can be utilized to find the cheapest and most efficient servers at any particular time of the day. AWS Lambda can be used to build applications only through specifying what code to run and when to run it. This makes it much easier to write efficient applications. These are just some of the tools and processes that can be utilized to build a tailored solution that supports your needs.

It’s worth noting that creating a greener cloud solution is often a moving target. What was architected a year ago may no longer be the most efficient solution today – your requirements may well have changed, and so has the cloud tech. An audit will identify any areas of waste and inefficiency and identify strategies to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.

When would a company not choose the most energy efficient solution?

There are times when you won’t choose the most energy efficient option. It could be that it means sacrificing processing speed when speed is business critical. Alternatively, it could be that your existing on-prem solution comes a close second to the cloud but it’s much more cost effective – even though there may come a time when it makes sense to transition. Also, it may not be prioritized within your organization’s sustainability goals. With that said, a number of quick wins can usually be gained.

What about companies that haven’t transitioned to the cloud?

Full cloud adoption is not an option for many organizations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a hybrid approach, using AWS for parts of your operations. Having the latest software versions and using new technology requires an ongoing effort of a team of developers and operations experts, which is often hard to justify from a business standpoint. By using a cloud provider such as AWS it is much easier to stay up to date by using the provided ecosystem of components.

We helped a client, for instance, cut its processing time from hours to seconds by moving peak-time operations to AWS. By using the spot market, we were able to improve efficiency at a relatively low cost, freeing up time for their staff. At the same time, the on-prem servers weren’t running at maximum load for long periods of time.

“Lowering your environmental footprint in the cloud should be seen as a smart business decision as well as the right decision for the planet. With lower emissions and lower costs why would you do anything else?”

Max Block, Principal Solutions Architect, Data Ductus

Any last thoughts?

Lowering your environmental footprint in the cloud should be seen as a smart business decision as well as the right decision for the planet. With lower emissions and lower costs why would you do anything else? To find out how we can help you achieve this, visit our dedicated AWS page or get in touch with me directly.

Max Block

Principal Solutions Architect

Phone: +46 (706) 88 77 07