By optimizing it for the cloud, you not only save money by reducing that network traffic, you also cut the associated carbon emissions.
Building on innovations from sustainable leaders like Etsy, Thoughtworks and a small cohort of innovation partners have developed an open source solution, Cloud Carbon Footprint, which provides visibility and tooling to measure, monitor and reduce your cloud carbon emissions. The software converts cloud utilization into estimated energy usage and carbon emissions, producing metrics that can be shared with employees, investors and other stakeholders. Cloud Carbon Footprint supports multiple public clouds, breaks down emissions by region, service, and project/team, and helps teams identify the areas with the highest ROI to reduce wasted cloud usage and carbon emissions.
“Climate is a key competency that firms will need to develop if they want to stay relevant in the 2020s,” says Chris Adams, co-director of The Green Web Foundation. “Tools like Cloud Carbon Footprint are the kinds of open, extendable logical infrastructure we need as responsible technologists to work towards a sustainable digital industry.”
Tom Greenwood, managing director of Whole Grain Digital agrees. "We have been trying to piece together the puzzle of energy and emissions for digital services for several years and this is an exciting step to make digital carbon accounting more accessible. Cloud Carbon Footprint will help organizations build a more complete picture, and perhaps more importantly, to take action to reduce energy and emissions."
Thinking Machines Data Science has already been actively using Cloud Carbon Footprint. According to CEO Stephanie Sy, “as a company that’s just starting to look into our carbon footprint, this tool shortcuts a huge piece of the work for us. Through the dashboard, we discovered that neutralizing our carbon impact will actually be more feasible than we previously thought. We might even have a path to carbon neutrality in 2021! Next, we'll be drilling into the emissions of individual teams and projects so we can strategize how to reduce further."
There are further opportunities to cut cloud emissions for those in the know. But unless you can tie down the energy use details, you’ll be grasping in the dark.
Take the use of renewables. The big three cloud providers — Amazon, Google and Microsoft — are all committed to increasing their use of renewable energy to power their clouds. As that expands, it may be feasible to look at transitioning workloads from one geographic location to another — following the sun through the course of a day so that your workloads are always running on solar power.
That sounds good. But data center energy use isn’t all about computation — those power hungry servers need cooling too. And that’s more easily done in the cool of the night; when ambient temperatures are lower, it takes less energy to cool the data center.
Other renewable energy sources can also be thrown into the mix. For instance, you might want to consider whether you’re able to take advantage of wind power when the weather permits.