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Going Green with AWS – A Transition Towards a Sustainable Future
A three-phased approach can be adopted to enable application migration to cloud, thereby helping in carbon reduction.
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By Swarnabha Seth, Lead Solution Architect, Cloud Transformation and Migration at TCS
Carbon footprint reduction is a priority area for C-suite executives, and while the technology space at first glance looks to be a low contributor, the reality is different. The IT industry contributes to about 3% of global greenhouse emissions – at par with the aviation industry – and data centers account for more than 2% of total electricity consumption. And the figures are rising.
IT departments have both a direct and indirect role in reducing carbon footprint. As a direct contributor, they can optimize data centers, modernize hardware, and increase computation efficacy to reduce energy consumption. In an indirect mode, they can capture carbon-related data, automation, and insight, as well as help formulate options to minimize carbon generation for other industries.
Approach to enable sustainability using cloud
A three-phased approach can be adopted to enable application migration to cloud, thereby helping in carbon reduction. The three phases of cloud adoption for carbon reduction are define, enhance, and transform.
1. Define: In this phase, businesses make critical decisions about the approach for reduction of carbon footprint from IT operations. This includes selecting the right hosting region with higher usage of renewable energy, setting up GreenOps for monitoring of carbon generation, and further optimizing the IT landscape for carbon footprint reduction. Another critical decision involves evaluation and adoption of SaaS options in place of on-premises self-hosting, the former option (SaaS) being more carbon efficient compared to the latter.
2. Enhance: In this phase, businesses build on those initial decisions. They might decide on data storage strategies, leverage edge computing, and look for other ways to minimize the carbon impact of data centers. An efficiently designed architecture can reduce unnecessarily heavy computing workloads and hence be more energy efficient.
3. Transform: In this phase, businesses look for broader-scale change. They might transform applications to be serverless, use containerization, or schedule compute-heavy workloads in alignment to hours of renewable energy-powered operations.
Greening of the IT sector is a joint responsibility between cloud service consumers and cloud providers like AWS. While architecture must be aligned to green objectives, hyperscalers can and should enable services and offerings that optimize carbon usage, while consuming green energy to run their data centers and operations.
How AWS is approaching sustainability
A host of hardware, cooling systems, and power are required to keep on-premises servers running. A shift to cloud computing results in reduced physical storage, infrastructure, and energy usage. But this in turn makes it necessary for the hyperscalers to ensure a reduced carbon footprint per unit workload. AWS has been proactive and focused to drive down its carbon footprint. Some of the key activities include:
Hardware efficiency: AWS-designed chips and the AWS Nitro System – along with the power-efficient AWS Graviton 3-based EC2 instances – consume up to 60% less energy compared to traditional compute devices, creating a lesser carbon footprint.
Improved cooling facilities: AWS uses up-to-date airflow technology to improve the cooling efficiency at its data centers. This improves hardware performance and decreases the energy required for cooling systems.
Sustainable design: AWS provides serverless services that can be effectively used to define an energy-efficient architecture by minimizing server runtime.
Energy usage: AWS data centers are increasingly powered by renewable resources, with a target of using 100% renewable power by 2025.
By adopting sustainable cloud technologies, organizations can stand by their commitments of reducing carbon emissions and at the same time fostering innovations.
Swarnabha Seth is a lead solution architect for cloud transformation and migration at TCS. He has more than 17 years of experience in consulting, deal shaping and solution development. Swarnabha has deep techno-functional expertise in cloud transformation programs and digitalization with in-depth knowledge of AWS services and offerings.