The AWS Well-Architected Framework has been helping AWS customers improve their cloud architectures since 2015. The framework consists of design principles, questions, and best practices across multiple pillars: Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Optimization.
Today we are introducing a new Sustainability Pillar to help organizations learn, measure, and improve their workloads using environmental best practices for cloud computing.
Similar to the other pillars, the Sustainability Pillar contains questions aimed at evaluating the design, architecture, and implementation of your workloads to reduce their energy consumption and improve their efficiency. The pillar is designed as a tool to track your progress toward policies and best practices that support a more sustainable future, not just a simple checklist.
The Shared Responsibility Model of Cloud Sustainability
The shared responsibility model also applies to sustainability. AWS is responsible for the sustainability of the cloud, while AWS customers are responsible for sustainability in the cloud.
The sustainability of the cloud allows AWS customers to reduce associated energy usage by nearly 80% with respect to a typical on-premises deployment. This is possible because of the much higher server utilization, power and cooling efficiency, custom data center design, and continued progress on the path to powering AWS operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025. But we can achieve much more by collectively designing sustainable architectures.
We are introducing the new Sustainability Pillar to help organizations improve their sustainability in the cloud. This is a continuous effort focused on energy reduction and efficiency of all types of workloads. In practice, the pillar helps developers and cloud architects surface the trade-offs, highlight patterns and best practices, and avoid anti-patterns. For example, selecting an efficient programming language, adopting modern algorithms, using efficient data storage techniques, and deploying correctly sized and efficient infrastructure.
Specifically, the pillar is designed to support organizations in developing a better understanding of the state of their workloads, as well as the impact related to defined sustainability targets, how to measure against these targets, and how to model where they cannot directly measure.
In addition to building sustainable workloads in the cloud, you can use AWS technology to solve broader sustainability challenges. For example, reducing the environmental incidents caused by industrial equipment failure using Amazon Monitron to detect abnormal behavior and conduct preventative maintenance. We call this sustainability through the cloud.
Well-Architected Design Principles for Sustainability in the Cloud
The Sustainability Pillar includes design principles and operational guidance, as well as architectural and software patterns.
The design principles will facilitate good design for sustainability:
Well-Architected Best Practices for Sustainability
The design principles summarized above correspond to concrete architectural best practices that development teams can apply every day.
Some examples of architectural best practices for sustainability:
Many of these best practices are generic and apply to all workloads, while others are specific to some use cases, verticals, and compute platforms. I’d highly encourage you to dive into these practices and identify the areas where you can achieve the most impact immediately.
Transforming sustainability into a non-functional requirement can result in cost effective solutions and directly translate to cost savings on AWS, as you only pay for what you use. In some cases, meeting these non-functional targets might involve tradeoffs in terms of uptime, availability, or response time. Where minor tradeoffs are required, the sustainability improvements are likely to outweigh the change in quality of service. It’s important to encourage teams to continuously experiment with sustainability improvements and embed proxy metrics in their team goals.
The AWS Well-Architected Sustainability Pillar is a new addition to the existing framework. By using the design principles and best practices defined in the Sustainability Pillar Whitepaper, you can make informed decisions balancing security, cost, performance, reliability, and operational excellence with sustainability outcomes for your workloads on AWS.
Learn more about the new Sustainability Pillar.
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