3 Tech Changes You Could Make Now for Cloud Sustainability

25th Nov 2020

3 Tech Changes You Could Make Now for Cloud Sustainability

Since posting some thoughts on more sustainable technology I have been made more aware of others who have been working for a number of years now at raising awareness of how our technology choices (and habits) affect everyone. Here are three things I have learnt which you might be able to put into practice now.

1 - Turn off Unused Servers Running in the Cloud

It sounds obvious but it's quite likely that if you are running your infrastructure in the cloud, there will be servers which are sitting there not being used. This might be a server which was spun up for testing and never decommissioned or servers running temporary environments for pull requests or old branches.

2 - Move Your Compute to Sustainable Region

If you are in the process of deciding on a cloud provider to use, Google and Azure are currently the most sustainable and have to most transparent effort towards their goals.

If you are currently running your applications in AWS then moving them to one of the green regions will mean that they are more sustainable. The AWS green regions are Dublin, Frankfurt, Canada and Oregon.

If you are running in Google or Azure then the good news is that you don't need to do anything. They are already 100% carbon neutral which means that any energy used which comes from non-renewable sources is then purchased from renewable sources elsewhere.

Take a look at this Ethics Whitepaper maintained by Anne Currie and Paul Johnston for more details on what each of these providers are doing and what they have committed to. It also talks about what they still need to do in order to be fully sustainable.

3 - Sign the Petition

It makes a big difference when we, the customer, show that sustainability is high on our agenda. We need to encourage all cloud providers towards a meaningful goal. There is a petition on Change.org which you can sign to show your support.

Sustainable Servers by 2024: https://www.change.org/p/sustainable-servers-by-2024

Going further

Over the last few weeks I have been looking around the internet for resources and information on sustainability in tech. I have included a list below of the public facing pages from some of the main cloud providers.

The State of Data Centre Energy Use Ethics Whitepaper - The State of Data Centre Energy Use by Paul Johnston & Anne Currie

This whitepaper was originally created in 2018 and has since been updated. It gives a good background to the problem and explains the methods used by each of the major cloud providers. It also grades them based on the information Paul and Anne had available.

Microsoft https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/sustainability


Google https://sustainability.google/

Amazon https://www.aboutamazon.com/sustainability

Cloudflare https://blog.cloudflare.com/the-climate-and-cloudflare/

Alibaba https://alibabagroup.com/en/about/sustainability

Get in touch

I'm still keen to learn more from people who are involved in this. Please get in touch if there are good articles on the subject.