AWS and Sustainability: Helping the Cloud Go Green

In 2021, Amazon introduced a new pillar to the core five of the AWS Well-Architected Framework: Sustainability. This new pillar helps businesses and customers improve the environmental impact of their workloads and usage of cloud services through what Amazon refers to as the Shared Responsibility Model of Cloud Sustainability.

According to Amazon, this model reduces energy usage by up to 80%, with plans to depend entirely on renewable energy sources by 2025. Here’s how the Sustainability pillar helps the cloud go green and how the Shared Responsibility Model works.

Essential Principles of the Shared Responsibility Model of Cloud Sustainability

The Shared Responsibility Model of Cloud Sustainability is an application of Amazon’s Shared Responsibility Model from the point of view of the Sustainability pillar. Amazon and the customer share different responsibilities for sustainability and efficiency in many of the same ways as security and data protection.

Under this model, Amazon is responsible for the sustainability and environmental impact of the cloud, whereas the customer is responsible for sustainability in the cloud. The distinction is critical, as it summarises who holds which roles.

AWS Responsibilities

The phrase “sustainability of the cloud” refers to Amazon’s role in maintaining efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable cloud infrastructure. Amazon is responsible for the following:

● Server and hardware maintenance
● Efficient and environmentally friendly cooling solutions
● Building and maintaining infrastructure to house data centers
● Management of basic utilities at data center locations such as water, power, and waste

Amazon’s role is to build, maintain, and ensure the proper operation of the buildings and hardware supporting cloud computing networks, using renewable energy and resources. According to a joint Amazon-451 Research study, an AWS data centre is 3.6x more energy efficient than the average data center.

Customer Responsibilities

Although the customer is not responsible for the underlying hardware and platforms, their role regarding compliance with the Sustainability pillar is primarily centered around efficient and sustainable utilisation of their resources.

The customer is responsible for the following:

● Sustainable data design and usage
● Efficient software application design
● Proper deployment and scaling of their platforms
● Efficient utilisation of data storage
● High code efficiency; lean, fast, and reliable code is more sustainable than heavy and complex code

It is up to the customer to identify their utilisation metrics and optimise accordingly. For example, a sustainability compliance program can help you find idling and over-utilised instances, enable instance hibernation when not in use, identify wasteful user behaviour patterns, or determine whether to scale up or down.

Optimise Your Business With a Trusted AWS Partner

At WOLK, we aim to provide efficient and sustainable IT solutions with Amazon Web Services. Partner with us and take advantage of our Well-Architected Review to ensure your business complies with all sustainability best practices.