How can cloud consumers help in achieving sustainability?

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How can cloud consumers help in achieving sustainability_

With digitization on the rise, businesses around the world are contributing increasingly towards global energy consumption, and therefore the urgent need to curb the ill effects of climate change is on the rise as well. Almost 80% of industries, across multiple domains globally, are working hard to become more sustainable by showing accountability towards their CO2 emissions with the intent to create a better tomorrow. As per Gartner, “sustainability is a goal that guides decision-making with economic, social, and environmental impacts in mind”.

Focusing on sustainability enables enterprises to gain monetary as well as environmental benefits. Sustainable business operations also increase brand equity and provide a competitive advantage while reducing operational costs. Over the last few years, IT giants have committed to becoming carbon neutral, and many small businesses have followed suit. While technology plays a major role in attaining sustainability, we, in this blog, will focus on how consumers can help in attaining sustainability goals.

Sustainable Environment: A shared responsibility model

Studies indicate that cloud computing can identify and help reduce carbon emissions by 60 to 90%, and this is feasible by embracing the “Go Green” approach. Environmental sustainability is a shared responsibility between consumers and cloud providers. Cloud service providers are bound to function and report on their environmental implications credibly, while consumers, on the other hand, have the responsibility to absorb cloud services in a sustainable manner by researching and comprehending the carbon consequences of their cloud consumption and using that information to improve their cloud usage. Cloud sustainability is a combination of FinOps and GreenOps best practices, and when handled in the right manner, it helps reduce the impact of increased carbon emissions.

Some key initiatives by cloud consumers to build eco-friendly best practices

  • Conduct a periodic assessment and analysis of IT assets to determine CO2 emissions and implement measures to reduce waste and carbon footprint.
  • Categorize Green House Gas (GHG) emissions into scope 1, 2, and 3 to prioritise which scope needs to be most focused on.
  • Switch to regions using renewable energy like wind, hydro and solar to cut down costs and free the environment from chemical disposal of toxic batteries and diesel.
  • ImplementAI-powered solutions that ensure less wattage use for power backups and help analyse data output, humidity, and temperature to administer highly efficient evaporative cooling solutions and smart temperature and lighting controls.
  • Use technology stack that are less resource intensive, implement serverless computing to cut down on runtime and increase on-demand flexibility, or switch to dark mode screen to save power consumption significantly.
  • Ensure all involved stakeholders align with organizational strategies to keep their carbon emissions in check.
  • Reduce the use of plastics, promote sustainable packaging, and eco-friendly best practices.
  • Modernize your applications to become cloud-native byusing technologies that reduce CO2 emissions, embrace containerization, and serverless architecture.
  • Set up load balancers and autoscaling to automatically reduce unused servers and curb overall energy consumption.
  • Implement SaaS on demand by paying only for what is being used. For example, use technologies such as Lambda, which is a Function as a Service, where you don’t have to keep your virtual machines running 24/7.

How can enterprises measure cloud sustainability and energy consumption?

Selecting the right vendors that work towards reducing carbon emissions is the first step for eminent cloud providers and IT leaders to keep a check on their “go green” initiatives.

Next, enterprises need to establish well-defined monitoring tools that can measure CO2 emissions and recommend effective ways to minimise them. Energy efficiency indicators and automated reports further help in controlling CO2 emissions, which can have a direct impact on making informed business decisions. Some important indicators include revenue per kilowatt hour and metric tonnes of carbon. There are various out-of-the-box tools that enterprises can leverage on the cloud as part of their sustainability initiatives.

The big 3 public cloud providers offer multiple measurement indicators and tools on how cloud usage can impact sustainability and the overall cloud environment. According to greenhouse gas (GHG) protocol standards, Google’s Carbon Footprint Dashboard, Microsoft’s Emission Impact Dashboard, and the Customer Carbon Footprint tool by AWS are prominent data visualisation techniques for capturing and analysing CO2 emissions. These dashboards provide a detailed overview of current carbon emissions, assess emission trends as cloud usage grows, and aid in forecasting future emissions. There are also tools like AWS Athena that help track cloud utilization. Athena is a serverless SQL query service that allows you to evaluate and query data from AWS S3 cost and usage statistics.

Open-source tools such as the Cloud Carbon Footprint can also assist you in determining how cloud usage affects your environment and what you can do about it. It collects usage statistics (computing, storage, networks, and so on) from major cloud providers such as AWS and Google Cloud and converts them to CO2 equivalent (metrics of CO2e) in estimated watt-hours (Wh) to calculate greenhouse gas emissions.

CloudEnsure and sustainability

CloudEnsure is LTI’s comprehensive cloud governance platform that helps you audit the overall IT Application and Infrastructure Health and performance via self-service capabilities and data driven intelligence to keep a check on energy and power consumptions. It’s carbon footprint calculators and intensity trackers help continuous monitoring and optimization of resource usage, data centre carbon emissions and scaling of applications as and when required. Provides AI-enabled recommendations and insights for better hardware and power equipment competency. With the platform’s tagging mechanism, every account and resource related to a business process is categorized and monitored at service, region, business process, application and infra levels that helps determine carbon footprint usage at business process level.

CloudEnsure generates cloud sustainability assessment reports and single pane dashboards providing a comprehensive view of carbon footprints and how it can be kept in check. It also furnishes cloud spend metrics and reports to reduce IT spends, gives recommendations to optimize and develop energy efficient infra, and ensures of offering more cost-effective, resilient, and cleaner eco-friendly solutions.

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