Cloud Sustainability – A foolproof technique for a greener future

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Cloud Sustainability

Digitization is both, a pathway to gaining a successful sustainable ecosystem as well as a threat to it. While digital technologies like AI and 5G have the ability to track, analyze and accelerate growth, reduce wastes, save costs and increase productivity, the same set of technologies can pose a major threat due to the rise in energy consumption, generation of unrecyclable wastes and higher carbon emissions. As enterprises move to cloud, optimizing how they use or build their data centers, servers, bandwidth and power will be of utmost importance in determining their efforts toward implementing sustainable measures. “Environmental sustainability cannot be the responsibility of just a few industries – if our climate is to be protected, sustainable business must be a global priority,” said Annette Zimmermann, research vice president at Gartner.

A 2021 report from CloudBolt Software stated that 68% of IT leaders felt cloud providers’ sustainability initiatives are an important factor in determining with whom they will do business and 79% said they would actually pay a premium to those vendors who demonstrate sustainability practices. In another Google-commissioned IDG global survey, 90% of respondents stated that sustainability is a priority and/or a performance metric for their IT department.

What is cloud sustainability?

Cloud sustainability is the process of identifying and analyzing the impact of the services being used, measuring impact across the workload lifecycle and implementing best practices to minimize these impacts while building workloads on cloud. Being sustainable on cloud means taking dedicated efforts toward reducing CO2 emissions and driving business operations with renewable energy in every possible way.

The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The Greenhouse Gas Protocol classifies CO2 emissions into scopes 1,2 and 3 that helps enterprises prioritize which scope needs to be most focused upon –

Scope 1: All direct emissions from businesses that involve company-owned and controlled facilities or vehicles. For example, fuel combustion by data center backup generators, machinery, equipment, etc.

Scope 2: Indirect emissions where we account for the amount of infra purchased through utility providers versus infra consumed. For example, emissions from commercial power generators are used to power data centers and other facilities.

Scope 3: All other indirect value-chain emissions from company operations. It includes all miscellaneous business activities that are not directly owned or controlled by the company. For example, emissions related to data center construction, transportation, IT waste, etc.

Cloud as an enabler for greener sustainable environments

Enterprises that begin their cloud journey can unravel significant financial, societal and environmental benefits via cloud-based sustainable products and solutions. Moving to a public cloud, facilitates more flexibility and scalability while also being cost effective. Cloud accelerates digital innovation, benefits businesses as well as the environment. Switching workloads to a public cloud provider helps cut down on-prem data centers that significantly lower carbon footprints and energy consumption.

Additionally, new regulatory checks and policies are being implemented on the cloud to get more carbon conscious. With regular compliance checks on the efficiency and performance of resources to providing better resource sharing capacities, public cloud providers today, are offering carbon-efficient platforms for applications and data. The ability to scale on demand, gain business agility and multi-tenancy savings demonstrate how sustainable computing is undoubtedly a foolproof approach to an environmentally friendly future.

Enterprises can further work towards a greener cloud setup by taking the following measures –

1. Adopt serverless architecture – Serverless computing facilitates pay-as-you-go services where applications can be built and run without having to manage the infrastructure. It proves cost effective and helps reduce the load of security overhead as you pay only for the resources you use and that too only when you need them. Serverless enables better infrastructure in terms of less electricity consumption and finer hardware setup proving to be more scalable and sustainable. Examples: AWS Lambda and Fargate, Azure Container Instances, GCP Cloud Functions and Cloud Run.

2. Implement observability – Keep continuous checks on what it takes to minimize carbon emissions and ensure that all measures taken to curb CO2 emissions are working favorably by adopting observability tools. Observability helps gather, analyze and correlate telemetry data to instigate sustainable business growth. It converts system data to practicable insights through which you can monitor and control everything you do. Azure and GCP have introduced the Sustainability Calculator and Carbon Footprint Tool respectively while AWS has come up with its Customer Carbon Footprint Tool.

3. Automate data retention policies – Data being generated and stored on the cloud is continuing to grow at an exponential rate, which means more compute and power usage. Retaining data through automated solutions for a specific period while ensuring apt consumption of compute power needs technologies like S3 lifecycle policies for AWS, Object Lifecycle Management in Google Cloud Storage and Lifecycle Management Policies in Azure Blob Storage. Automation accelerates innovation, reduces waste and encourages go-green initiatives to enable enterprises to meet sustainability objectives.

4. Review SLAs and DR plans – Cloud enables automated failover with zero downtime. However, if enterprises opt for non-instant backup plans, where recovery is in minutes, workloads can be arranged to run in one region while disaster recovery backups can be automated to another region. In such a scenario, recovery is not instant, but it helps optimize the usage of resources, reduces CO2 emissions and proves to be more cost-effective. It is therefore vital to evaluate the high SLA times of such regions before considering non-instant failovers.

5. Choose low CO2 emission regions – Consider sustainability along with factors like cost and latency while choosing a region. For instance, Google Cloud began publishing region-wise carbon-free percentages while AWS incorporated sustainability as one of their pillars of best practices to encourage accountability of carbon footprint on the cloud ecosystem.

6. Green software engineering best practices – Build applications that are more carbon-aware, are hardware and energy efficient and consume power with minimal carbon intensity. Reduce the amount of data and travel across the network and implement standards, tools and best practices to increase overall carbon efficiency.

To gain more insights into how enterprises can remain committed to creating a greener environment, read our last week’s blog on How can cloud consumers help in achieving sustainability?

In the context of accountability, offsetting CO2 emissions as part of an enterprise’s corporate sustainability strategy has become a requisite. It is widely known that FinOps provides a holistic view of your cloud spends, but with the growing awareness of clean energy practices, FinOps is being considered fundamental in instrumenting not just cost accountability but sustainability monitoring as well. GreenOps, a trending term these days, is nothing but the cloud operational framework in combination with the psychological shift of driving financial and environment accountability together with the right observability tools. FinOps is soon moving towards being also known as GreenOps with the surety that in the near future, corporate sustainability initiatives would consist of sound green and financial strategies for better visibility to achieve carbon neutrality.

LTI’s initiatives for a greener environment

LTI is strongly committed to creating a greener environment by implementing carbon management initiatives and clean energy consumption practices, to achieve “Carbon Neutrality” by 2030.

We were ranked among the top 50 companies (Rating ‘A’) in the BW Business World India rankings for Most Sustainable Companies 2020 and also won the IGBC Performance Challenge Award 2020 for Green Built Environment for Powai HQ.

Taking responsibility for our products at every stage of their lifecycle, keeping a check on device footprint, using safer materials, designing green infrastructure and educating the workforce on the importance of sustainability are some of our significant initiatives towards reducing carbon footprint.

Some of our key go-green practices involve –

  • Minimizing travel footprint
  • Increasing share of renewable energy
  • Adopting nature-based removal of carbon capture
  • Optimizing resource consumption
  • Mitigating carbon emissions through energy conservation
  • Supporting community initiatives to build a greener earth
  • Harvesting water and
  • Administering waste management

Leverage LTI’s CloudEnsure to minimize CO2 emissions

LTI has come up with innovative solutions to measure CO2 emissions for workloads on the cloud that provide effective recommendations. CloudEnsure is an autonomous multi-cloud one governance platform empowering outcome-based enterprise transformations via well-architected audits across the pillars of security, cost, reliability, performance, and operations.

– Assures continuous cloud health monitoring via self-service capabilities and data driven intelligence

– Optimizes resource usage, CO2 emissions and scalability of applications through carbon footprint calculators and intensity trackers

– Provides AI-enabled recommendations and insights for better hardware competency as well as enhanced power & cooling equipment efficiency in the cloud.

– Tagging mechanism enables businesses to identify and link their carbon footprint at the business process and application level, helping organizations to remain conscious and vigilant about their CO2 emissions.

– Generates cloud sustainability assessment reports and single pane dashboard views that depict cloud application, infra, storage and security health across the cloud lifecycle. These metrics and reports help in setting sustainability goals, plan and action that drives sustainable innovation in the cloud by offering clean energy solutions.

Key outcomes

CloudEnsure can help clients in strategizing a roadmap towards becoming carbon neutral by –

  • Monitoring and measuring CO2 emissions for a greener environment,
  • Aligning with industry defined sustainability best practices recommending smart carbon removal technologies,
  • With cognitive insights, environment-oriented metrics and best practices, CloudEnsure helps keep a vigilant check on overall cloud health while enabling compliance to industry standards as well.

Its exclusive features not just offers simplified, future-fit cloud transformations but also helps optimize usage of resources bringing down costs and e-wastes, leading the way to reduced carbon emissions.

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