The environmental impact of IT operations, particularly data storage and infrastructure, is a significant concern. While many organizations have sustainability plans, the ever-increasing IT-related emissions, projected to grow by 30% annually, suggest that sustainability in IT is still an under-addressed issue.
A popular mitigation strategy is transitioning workloads to the cloud, and Studies have shown that moving to the Cloud from on-premise data centers have some obvious advantages when it comes to sustainability:
Cloud service providers such as AWS have clear plans and goals for maximum sustainability. For example, AWS has committed to powering their public cloud with 100% renewable energy by 2025, and to reach net-zero emissions by 2040.
Cloud offers flexibility in a way on-premise data centers do not. On-premise always requires some form of oversizing. In other words, there always needs to be more storing and computing power available than what is needed at any given time. This is not the case with Cloud. You pay for what you use, and the resources are managed by the cloud service provider to ensure that the server lifecycle is sustainably managed.
However, here's the issue. This only gets you so far, and I'm sorry to say, it is not enough. Sure, moving to Cloud is more sustainably, but what do you do once you're there?
Responsible digitalisation does not mean you move every workload to AWS and then call it a day, it means configuring the infrastructure and data storage in the most sustainable way possible. Here's how.
In short, serverless computing contributes to sustainability by optimizing the resource utilization. This essentially means that serverless services are turned on when you need them, and turned of once they have accomplished what they set out to do. Moreover, serverless functions can be automatically scaled based on demand, which for constantly growing applications, is crucial.
One way of achieving a more serverless architecure is to use services such as AWS Lambda.
What is Lambda? Lambda is a compute service that runs your code in response to events and automatically manages the compute resources, meaning it only uses what the workload requires. No more, no less.
So what does this do for sustainability? Well, for example, unlike building an infrastructure solely around EC2 instances, which require maintaining fixed server capacities, Lambda, as stated before, automatically scales based on demand, which drastically reduces energy consumption. In other words, the dynamic scaling of serverless functions reduce idle time and lowers overall energy consumption, contributing to a smaller carbon footprint compared to traditional server-based models.
As a bonus, Lambda's pay-per-execution pricing solves another common problem for organizations handling a lot of data, namely ensuring organizations only pay for the computing power they consume, minimizing waste and maximizing cost efficiency.
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The next step in making your cloud usage more sustainable concerns your data storage. In order to achieve a sustainable storage plan, it is important that you adhere to your use case and your specific needs.
For example, do you really need your data to be retrievable and ready at all times? In most cases, the answer is probably no.
This means that you can start to look at alternative ways of storing your data, ways that consume less energy and therefore are more sustainable.
One way of doing this is by using AWS S3, which offers several options for optimizing storage:
S3 offers a function called storage lifecycle. With this function, you can tell Amazon S3 to automatically transition objects to less-expensive storage classes, or archive or delete them. For example, you might store some periodic logs for your application for a month or two, but then you want to get rid of them. Well, this S3 function takes care of that.
When it comes to data you don't need to access frequently, but that needs to be archived because you might need it later on (which is often the case with Big Data) or you need it for regulatory reasons, you can use S3 glacier. This S3 tier is not only the most cost effective option, it is also a lot more sustainable than standard storage options.
It becomes evident that it is not enough to simply "be" in the Cloud when it comes to sustainability. There are so many services in the Cloud that you can leverage to make sure your carbon footprint is as low as possible. Two examples of this is serverless computing and optimised data storage using S3.
The important part to take note on here is that it does not require massive investments. Smart and responsible infrastructure can help you achieve better flexibility, cost control, most importantly, sustainability. In other words, with the right competence, you can take responsibility for you digitalisation and maximise sustainability, while at the same time reduce costs and enhance performance.
Want to learn more about how you can leverage the services outlined in this post? Get in touch! email@example.com