“In 2018, our second year of having achieved our goal of procuring as much renewable energy as the electricity we consume, we looked deeper into our electricity usage and our renewable purchases and found that we were still relying on carbon-based power for a significant number of hours per year. So despite matching 100% of our annual consumption with renewables, we were not running carbon free. Our 2030 carbon free goal moves us to actual decarbonization of our operations – no credits or offsets.”
— June Yang, vice president and general manager, Google Compute, Google Cloud
June Yang sees a great opportunity for all enterprises to achieve the sustainability and environmental gains inherent in the transition to cloud computing and far more.
“As all organizations become digital organizations, cloud technology provides an opportunity to do that in an energy-efficient and carbon-free way. But that’s not all,” she says. “Cloud technology also gives organizations the scalable compute power, the ability to collect, process and analyze data; and the machine learning tools that it will take to answer tough operational and environmental challenges.”
Yang points to two projects that already reveal cloud computing’s cloud computing’s potential to reduce emissions and the world’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Five years ago, Google and DeepMinds began using machine learning to control the cooling systems in Google’s data centers. Today those same systems decrease the amount of energy required to cool Google’s most energy-intense buildings by 30%. From that experience Google developed the Industrial Adaptive Controls platform to enable artificial intelligence-enabled energy savings on a global scale – solutions it will make available to the largest industrial enterprises.
Earlier this year, Google published the carbon characteristics of its Google Cloud regions as well as a simple tool to help customers pick a Google Cloud region, taking variables like price, latency, and sustainability into account. They shared this data to help organizations include carbon emissions into typical migration or development decisions. And recently, Google Cloud took that a step further and included low-carbon indicators inside their console location selectors.
“Integrating carbon impact into cloud migration process and user experience will help our customers make more sustainable IT decisions,” says Yang.
Google is also pushing its own aggressive effort to become carbon free by 2030 and sharing what it learns along the way.
“In 2018, our second year of having achieved our goal of procuring as much renewable energy as the electricity we consume, we looked deeper into our usage and found that we were still relying on carbon-based power for a significant number of hours per year. So despite matching 100% of our annual consumption with renewables, we were not running carbon free. Our 2030 carbon free goal moves us to actual decarbonization of our operations – no credits or offsets.”
Yang notes that it’s an effort that will require Google to take action in a number of ways. These include the continued purchase of clean energy, the development and commercialization of the new technologies needed to decarbonize the generation of electricity and strong advocacy.
Yang is optimistic, both for the future and the synergy that makes Google and VMware natural partners in the effort to provide all organizations with access to cloud computing and the sustainability gains it makes possible.
“When we first established our carbon neutrality goal back in 2007 it was based on three pillars: operate as efficiently as possible, transition to renewable energy, and use high-quality carbon offsets for those emissions that we couldn’t yet mitigate,” Yang adds. “The first pillar of that goal – build, manage, and operate digital infrastructure as efficiently as possible – is still incredibly important and holds true. Virtualization is and was a key component of that. The move to virtualized or software-defined environments helped make it possible to keep overall data center energy consumption relatively flat for the past 10 years, even as computing needs grew exponentially.”
Helping Enterprises Lower Emissions with a Move to the Cloud
Now it’s never been easier for enterprises to realize the sustainability gains inherent in the cloud and transition to the lower-emission operations made possible by the Google Cloud. The Google Cloud VMware Engine makes it easy to lift and shift VM-based applications to Google Cloud seamlessly quickly and easily.
“Google Cloud VMware Engine represents the fastest way for enterprises to migrate to the Google Cloud while still using the VMware technologies they know and trust with no changes to their applications or underlying policies or practices,” says Yang. “Our integrated networking, high-density platform and rapid node deployment (in about 30 minutes) saves time, reduces costs, and eliminates much of the complexity and risk of moving to the cloud. Personnel don’t have to learn new tools since applications run in a private, native VMware environment in Google Cloud.”
Once in the Google Cloud these same organizations can become more agile by using Google’s cloud services or extend their network with cloud disaster recovery, backup and storage services.
“The cloud enables positive change for the environment, and we operate the cleanest cloud today,” says Yang. “We’re actively engaged in important programs like VMware Zero-Carbon Committed and are integrating sustainability natively into our products. Any Google Cloud user can even easily incorporate sustainability into their decision-making process when determining where to migrate or build their applications by using our simple region picking tool and selecting low-carbon options now indicated by the gLeaf in the Google Cloud console.”
Learn more about Google Cloud VMware Engine and its partnership with VMware here.