Sustainable software is fundamental
As humanity gets to grips with global warming, we are seeing a positive and welcome move from cloud providers. They are making sustainable software and sustainability central to their operations. And in their guidance for customers.
In recent years, each of the big three cloud providers have developed their own sustainability strategies. These strategies have varied from investing in and constructing renewable energy sources through to carbon offsetting and the purchasing of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). You can read a good overview in this 2019 WIRED blog: Wired: Big Cloud Providers Compared.
Will the environment affect how we build software? What is sustainable software development?
As active engineers working with deadlines and pressures around delivery you can be forgiven for asking these questions.
Sustainability is a climatic pattern
In Wardley Strategy Cycle terms, we might describe sustainability as a significant Climatic Pattern (no pun intended). Climatic Patterns / Patterns are external forces influencing what you and your organisation do. These are broader rules of the game, the patterns of the seasons and competitor actions. Climatic patterns will affect you.
Google and Microsoft have been leading the charge in recent years by helping organisations to achieve net-0 carbon emissions. They do this by introducing the ability for enterprises to measure their carbon footprint in the cloud. Sustainability as a Climatic Pattern influencing digital organisations is now becoming a factor that cannot be ignored by leadership in these organisations. Cloud providers are doing ever more to empower organisations in measuring their carbon emissions.
We predict more ‘digital’ organisations will enact green/sustainable technical and architectural strategies. They will do this to drive down their carbon footprint towards net zero carbon emissions. These strategies will involve movement and evolution across value/supply chains that will lead to positive outcomes and sustainable operations.
Extending SCORP with Sustainability – SCORPS
In terms of sustainable software and software architectures we can build on the advances of cloud providers. In previous posts we talked about our SCORP continuous improvement processes for development teams. There is potential to extend the SCORP continuous improvement process to factor sustainability into decisions and goals. SCORPS 🙂
We acknowledge that sustainable change is slow and deliberate. The SCORPS process takes teams on a continuous improvement journey with the Well Architected Framework at the heart of its doctrine. Recent announcements at AWS re:Invent 2021 include the addition of a sixth pillar to Well Architected: Sustainability.
We see this as an awesome opportunity for development organisations to bring environmental sustainability into their workload and architecture designs.
Shared Responsibility Model
The AWS Well Architected Sustainability pillar is an asset aimed at supporting development teams and organisation making environmentally sustainable decisions for their software architecture. It articulates for a Shared Responsibility Model. This is intended as a ‘meet in the middle’ type compromise. AWS take care of sustainability at the core infrastructure. We optimise application and enterprise design.
In the coming months, we will be evaluating the AWS Sustainability pillar and its Best Practices for Sustainability in the Cloud. These practices are grouped into five categories:
We would anticipate teams being able to use the pillar to assess their current state/workloads and make recommendations and decisions to improve their sustainability trends. Just as important is the need to make good decisions around new workloads and setting them on a sustainable path.
Our initial impression is that the sustainability guidance offered by AWS will be very positive for teams leveraging serverless architecture strategies. We are on the right course with our serverless-first development approach.
It’s an exciting and empowering time for teams and organisations wanting to do their bit through making environmentally friendly decisions for their software architecture. Over time I personally hope to begin to introduce the sustainability pillar into our Well Architected Reviews and into our continuous improvement initiative SCORPS. Just doing our bit.