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Cloud Carbon Footprint

Last updated : Sep 27, 2023
This blip is not on the current edition of the Radar. If it was on one of the last few editions, it is likely that it is still relevant. If the blip is older, it might no longer be relevant and our assessment might be different today. Unfortunately, we simply don't have the bandwidth to continuously review blips from previous editions of the Radar. Understand more
Sep 2023
Trial ?

Cloud Carbon Footprint (CCF) is an open-source tool that estimates carbon emissions for cloud workloads across the major cloud service providers. It queries cloud APIs for resource usage data and uses multiple sources to track carbon emissions. Following a published methodology, CCF combines these into emission estimates and provides a visualization of the data over time. Cloud providers have started adding similar offerings to their platforms, but organizations are still deploying CCF because it has all of the following features: It's open-source, designed to be extended, works across multiple clouds and has a transparent, published methodology. In addition, it also includes estimates for scope 2 and scope 3 emissions — for electricity use and hardware production, respectively. In our experiments, the estimates between different tools have varied, which is not a huge surprise given that all tools in this space make estimates and multiply estimated numbers. However, settling on one tool, taking a baseline and improving from that baseline is the key usage scenario we've come across, and tools like Kepler may reduce the need for estimates in the future. CCF also delivers GCP and AWS-sourced optimization recommendations, which not only help reduce your cloud carbon footprint but can also become part of a wider cloud cost optimization strategy. Thoughtworks is a significant contributor to CCF.

Mar 2022
Trial ?

Cloud Carbon Footprint (CCF) is an open-source tool that uses cloud APIs to provide visualizations of estimated carbon emissions based on usage across AWS, GCP and Azure. The Thoughtworks team has successfully used the tool with several organizations, including energy technology companies, retailers, digital service providers and companies that use AI. Cloud platform providers realize that it's important to help their customers understand the carbon impact of using their services, so they've begun to build similar functionality themselves. Because CCF is cloud agnostic, it allows users to view energy usage and carbon emissions for multiple cloud providers in one place, while translating carbon footprints into real-world impact such as flights or trees planted.

In recent releases, CCF has begun to include Google Cloud and AWS-sourced optimization recommendations alongside potential energy and CO2 savings, as well as to support more cloud instance types such as GPU instances. Given the traction the tool has received and the continued addition of new features, we feel confident moving it to Trial.

Oct 2021
Assess ?

Stakeholders increasingly expect businesses to account for the environmental externalities of their decisions, as evidenced by the rise of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing and employee activism around climate change. Migrating to the cloud offers the potential for more efficient energy usage — the cloud providers have much more scale to justify investment in green energy sources and R&D — but the downside of software abstractions for cloud users is that those abstractions also hide the energy impact as the actual data centers are hidden from view and financed by another company. Cloud Carbon Footprint, a new open-source tool, takes advantage of cloud APIs to provide visualizations of estimated carbon emissions based on usage across AWS, GCP and Azure. It uses heuristics like Etsy's Cloud Jewels to estimate energy usage and public data sources to convert energy usage into emissions based on the carbon intensity of the cloud region's underlying energy grid (GCP publishes this data already). The tool's dashboards act as information radiators, allowing decision makers to modify setups to cut costs and emissions at the same time. The linkage of cloud regions to carbon intensity of the underlying grid provides a nudge to switch dirty workloads to regions with greener energy sources.

Published : Oct 27, 2021

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