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First Steps to a Sustainable Future with AWS

17 May 2022      
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AWS Summit 2022 - First Steps to a Sustainable Future with AWS

One of the most prominent trends to come out of AWS Summit 2022 was sustainability. Nasstar Solution Designer, Alan Philpott, discusses what that means for the future of cloud services, and how to implement sustainable changes in your architecture.

The “Architecting for Sustainability” session at AWS Summit 2022 left us all with a lot to think about. Both in terms of the session content and how well attended it was – a telling sign of how important this will be for the industry moving forward.

As well as reducing environmental carbon footprint impacts, architecting for sustainability can also help drive efficiencies and reduce costs.

To start thinking about how sustainability can be approached in your architecture, it is worth taking a look at the new Well-Architected Framework Sustainability Pillar documentation. This covers many aspects such as the responsibility model, design principles, best practices, and how to treat sustainability as a non-functional requirement.

 

The earlier the Well-Architected Review is applied to the solution, the better the result

The AWS Well-Architected Framework is a fundamental tool in supporting the delivery of high-quality AWS solutions. With the addition of the new available-to-use sustainability pillar, it is even easier to optimise your architecture to reduce its carbon footprint and drive efficiencies to reach your sustainability goals.

It’s good to review a workload using the Well-Architected Framework tool early in the delivery lifecycle so recommendations can be integrated into the architecture and tested.

There is still value in carrying out reviews throughout the process to help keep the architecture aligned with the six pillars, but it might be harder to make changes as time goes on, depending on the context.

 

Ideas for getting started

If you’re not sure where to start, there may be some very simple changes that could make a big difference overall.

An example of a change that could be made is by switching to the energy-efficient AWS Graviton processor types which provide more performance whilst requiring less energy at lower cost. As well as being applicable to EC2 servers, this switch can be made to several serverless services such as AWS Lambda, Amazon Aurora and AWS Fargate to name just a few.

Aside from AWS Graviton, there are plenty of other considerations where optimisations could be made. Does stored data need to be held for so long? Are there synchronous processes that could be asynchronous to save compute waiting around? Are only the libraries that are needed to run code being downloaded? Is auto-scaling as efficient as it could be? There are plenty of possibilities!

 

Measuring the carbon footprint over time

A very useful tool that will help you on your sustainability journey is the Customer Carbon Footprint Tool which can be found in the AWS Console.

This tool provides a view of the estimated carbon footprint associated with the AWS services running within your workload, plus an estimate of how much you have saved by running your workload in AWS rather than on-prem services.

The carbon emission trend can be tracked over time to see how changes are affecting the overall carbon footprint of your workload. The metrics reported by the tool can be turned into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for ongoing tracking and stakeholder reporting.

As AWS continuously improves and moves towards its goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2025, a forecast is presented by the tool which predicts how the workload’s footprint will reduce in relation to AWS’s own ‘of the cloud’ sustainability progression.

Sustainable architecture is the future and AWS is working hard to enable customers to drive down their carbon footprints as efficiently as possible. Just like considering security at every step, the goal is for us all to be thinking about how we can deliver more sustainable solutions.

Here at Nasstar, we can’t wait to see what other enhancements AWS will introduce to drive sustainable architecture in the future!

 

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