Sustainability Pillar — AWS Well-Architected Tool

Abhishek Shukla
4 min readApr 8, 2023

AWS introduced the Sustainability Pillar and is available for customers to use during workload reviews in the AWS Well-Architected Tool.

What is Sustainability in cloud

Sustainability refers to reduce the carbon footprint generated by organizations.carbon footprint being a specific measure used to assess the environmental impact and sustainability of various activities, including cloud applications.

Carbon footprint refers to the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions, specifically carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, generated by an individual, organization, product, or service over a given period of time. It is usually measured in metric tons of CO2 equivalent (CO2e). The carbon footprint serves as an indicator of the contribution to climate change and environmental degradation.

In the context of cloud applications, the carbon footprint primarily stems from the energy consumption of data centers that host and support these applications. Data centers require significant amounts of electricity to power servers, cooling systems, networking equipment, and other infrastructure components. The energy used by these data centers often comes from fossil fuel sources, which produce greenhouse gas emissions during the generation process.

Sustainability is a shared responibility

Image Reference : https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/sustainability-pillar-well-architected-framework/

How to acheive sustainability in cloud application

By having some measures, we can redude the carbon footprint of cloud applications and promote sustainability.

  1. Energy Efficiency: Implementing energy-efficient technologies and practices in data centers, such as efficient hardware, cooling systems, and power management techniques, can significantly reduce energy consumption and associated emissions.
  2. Renewable Energy: Transitioning to renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, or hydroelectric power, to power data centers helps eliminate or minimize the carbon emissions associated with electricity generation.
  3. Resource Optimization: Optimizing resource utilization and implementing dynamic scaling strategies in cloud applications can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by efficiently allocating computing resources based on demand.
  4. Data Center Location: Selecting data center locations in regions with access to renewable energy sources and cooler climates can reduce the carbon footprint. Renewable energy availability and lower cooling requirements can lead to more sustainable operations.
  5. Carbon Offsetting: Engaging in carbon offset programs by investing in renewable energy projects or purchasing carbon credits can help neutralize the remaining emissions that cannot be eliminated directly.
  6. Life Cycle Assessment: Conducting life cycle assessments of cloud applications and their underlying infrastructure can identify areas where emissions can be reduced, such as through design optimization, materials sourcing, and end-of-life management.

How AWS Well architected framework can help customers

Sustainability piller of AWS WAF can help customer to help and design the sustaiable applications on cloud.

Sustainability piller suggests that customers should

  • Understand your impact — Measure business outcomes and the related sustainability impact to establish performance indicators, evaluate improvements, and estimate the impact of proposed changes over time.
  • Establish sustainability goals — Set long-term goals for each workload, model return on investment (ROI) and give owners the resources to invest in sustainability goals.
  • Maximize utilization — Right size each workload to maximize the energy efficiency of the underlying hardware, and minimize idle resources.
  • Anticipate and adopt new, more efficient hardware and software offerings — Support upstream improvements by your partners, continually evaluate hardware and software choices for efficiencies, and design for flexibility to adopt new technologies over time.
  • Use managed services — Shared services reduce the amount of infrastructure needed to support a broad range of workloads.
  • Reduce the downstream impact of your cloud workloads — Reduce the amount of energy or resources required to use your services and reduce the need for your customers to upgrade their devices.

Architectural best practices for Sustainability

Some best practices that can increase the sustaiability of cloud applications.

  • Optimize geographic placement of workloads for user locations
  • Optimize areas of code that consume the most time or resources
  • Optimize impact on customer devices and equipment, use energy efficient devices.
  • Implement a data classification policy
  • Use lifecycle policies to delete unnecessary data
  • Minimize data movement across networks
  • Optimize your use of GPUs
  • Adopt development and testing methods that allow rapid introduction of potential sustainability improvements
  • Increase the utilization of your build environments

AWS tools for sustainability

  • AWS Data exchange
  • AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool
  • AWS well architected Sustainability piller
  • AWS Graviton Instances
  • Amazon EC2 Spot instances

Summary

Reducing the carbon footprint of applications in cloud data centers is a joint responsibility, and by adhering to the recommended best practices and tools provided by AWS WAF, customers can contribute to sustainability efforts.

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Abhishek Shukla

Having 20+ years of IT experience , Enterprise architect . Azure Solution architect expert, Microsft certified trainer, AWS cloud practioner (CLF-C01)