AWS Well-Architected Framework- Introduction to Sustainability

When building in the cloud, do you have a proven blueprint for what you're constructing?

Part 5 – Sustainability Pillar Intro

Sustainability in AWS

Here’s Part 5 or our deep-dive into the AWS Well-Architected Framework. Let’s start looking at the newest pillar added to the framework, the Sustainability pillar.

If you haven’t checked out parts 1-4 of this series, stop here and give those a read. For this article, we’re going to assume that you’ve read the previous posts and are up to speed on the framework and pillars.

Did you miss our earlier editions? Why not sign up for our newsletter? This way, you won’t miss out again on future parts of this series and future Cloud and DevOps topics!

We’re going to break down this pillar overview into a few parts for digestibility:

  • AWS Sustainability Overview
  • Design Principles, Impacts, and Goals
  • Adoption and What to Expect
  • Best Practices

AWS Well-Architected Sustainability Pillar

The role of these sustainability design principles and best practices of this pillar is to consider the environmental impacts of the services used. And ensuring that we understand the environmental impacts across the entire workload lifecycle. So we can strive to design cloud environments with the least carbon footprint and efficient use of the resources.

As public cloud consumers, the physical environment of the data centers that power these clouds is abstracted away from us. While this may benefit us as customers of AWS, it is all too easy to lose sight of the impact. This could be in the form of physical servers, power, and cooling requirements of AWS services.

AWS and Amazon have ambitious goals to be powered by 100% renewable energy by the year 2025 and net-zero carbon by 2040.

You can read more about these AWS and Amazon sustainability goals here.

Now it’s amazing that by simply using AWS for the IT needs of our business, we are helping reduce the overall environmental impact our cloud infrastructure. All through the work AWS and Amazon have done so far. And they continue to improve their data center operations and overall business operations in a more sustainable way.

However, there is a lot more we can do directly as AWS customers to improve in this sustainability area. The designs of your cloud workloads and the resource choices you make can have a large impact. Simply through the type and quantity of resources you use within your AWS environments. These ultimately affect the environmental impact your workloads have.

The sustainability pillar is guided by six design principles and a number of best practices. Consider these when reviewing AWS workloads. This will help you understand and lessen the environmental and societal impact of your design choices.

So let’s dive in and start to understand this new Sustainability Pillar from AWS, and how we can help make better design choices to reduce the impacts of our cloud workloads on the environment.

AWS Well-Architected Sustainability Pillar

Design Principles

  • Understand Your Impact
  • Establish Sustainability Goals
  • Maximize Utilization
  • Anticipate and Adopt New, More Efficient Hardware and Software Offerings
  • Use Managed Services
  • Reduce the Downstream Impact of your Cloud Workloads

AWS Defines these Design Principles as follows:

Understand Your Impact

Measure the impact of your cloud workload and model the future impact of your workload. Include all sources of impact, including impacts resulting from customer use of your products, and impacts resulting from their eventual decommissioning and retirement. Compare the productive output with the total impact of your cloud workloads by reviewing the resources and emissions required per unit of work. Use this data to establish key performance indicators (KPIs), evaluate ways to improve productivity while reducing impact, and estimate the impact of proposed changes over time.

Establish Sustainability Goals

For each cloud workload, establish long-term sustainability goals such as reducing the compute and storage resources required per transaction. Model the return on investment of sustainability improvements for existing workloads, and give owners the resources they need to invest in sustainability goals. Therefore planning for growth, and architect your workloads so that growth results in reduced impact intensity measured against an appropriate unit, such as per user or per transaction. Goals help you support the wider sustainability goals of your business or organization, identify regressions, and prioritize areas of potential improvement.

Maximize Utilization

Right-size workloads and implement efficient design to ensure high utilization and maximize the energy efficiency of the underlying hardware. Two hosts running at 30% utilization are less efficient than one host running at 60% due to baseline power consumption per host. At the same time, shut down or minimize idle resources, processing, and storage to reduce the total energy required to power your workload.

Anticipate and Adopt New, More Efficient Hardware and Software Offerings

Support the upstream improvements your partners and suppliers make to help you reduce the impact of your cloud workloads. Continually monitor and evaluate new, more efficient hardware and software offerings. Design for flexibility to allow for the rapid adoption of new efficient technologies.

Use Managed Services

Sharing services across a broad customer base helps maximize resource utilization, which reduces the amount of infrastructure needed to support cloud workloads. For example, customers can share the impact of common data center components like power and networking by migrating workloads to the AWS Cloud and adopting managed services, such as AWS Fargate for serverless containers, where AWS operates at scale and is responsible for their efficient operation. Use managed services that can help minimize your impact, such as automatically moving infrequently accessed data to cold storage with Amazon S3 Lifecycle configurations or Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling to adjust capacity to meet demand.

Easing the Downstream Impact of your Cloud Workloads

Finally, reduce the amount of energy or resources required to use your services. Reduce or remove the need for customers to upgrade their devices to use your services. Test using device farms to understand expected impact and test with customers to understand the actual impact from using your services.

Now, along with these 6 design principles of the Sustainability Pillar, the best practices and implementation guidance are grouped into 6 Best Practice Areas.

AWS Well-Architected Sustainability Pillar

Best Practice Areas

  • Region Selection
  • User Patterns
  • Software and Architecture Patterns
  • Data Patterns
  • Hardware Patterns
  • Development and Deployment Process

These best practice areas contain a number of questions to ask as part of the Well-Architected review of our workloads that help identify areas where we can improve our overall workload design and have more positive sustainability impacts.

In the next part of this series covering the AWS Well-Architected Framework, we’ll continue covering the Sustainability pillar, and walk through each of these best practice areas to help understand them and provide additional insights to help review your AWS workloads.

In the next part of this series, we’ll continue our exploration of cloud cost management and the Cost Optimization pillar. We’ll focus on the five best practice areas and how you can use these to help review and measure your cloud workload against them to identify areas of improvement.

Don’t miss the next part, sign up for our newsletter to get all the latest insights from the Autimo team!

Learn more about the AWS Well-Architected Framework here.

If you need to get started with your AWS Well-Architected Review today, the Autimo team is here to help!

How can Autimo help you with cloud cost management?

We work with customers to go much deeper than the AWS Well-Architected Framework. We’ll tightly integrate with your teams to learn about your business, your challenges, and goals.

We strive to understand your business and team dynamics. Helping to tailor specific action plans that matter the most to you.

Our team can work with your internal groups to take the results of the AWS Well-Architected review, prioritize them and simply engage as a trusted advisor with your team as they work through the design improvement tasks. If more help is needed, Autimo can directly augment your existing team, by providing AWS experts and project management capabilities to help shorten project deliverables.

Want to learn more about cloud cost management?

Will Sheldon

VP Customer Success, Marketing & Ops

Will is the founder and CEO of Autimo. He created Autimo as a way to fill the gap of skilled Cloud and Devops engineering in the market. His vision is to democratize cloud knowledge and ‘raise the water’ level of cloud engineering competency for everyone.

Make sure you don't miss out on the next part of the series!

Sign up and we'll send you the latest cloud technology insights
Need help?

Don't hesitate to contact us for more information

We’d love to get in touch to see how we can help you leverage cloud technologies to grow your business.