A new study from Stanford University found that it takes 75 gigajoules per year of energy for a person to have a good, long life, but the average American uses nearly four times that amount: 284 gigajoules/year. In fact, the U.S. consumes 17% of the world’s energy while accounting for only 4% of the population.
It’s not a new call to action that we need to do more to reduce our energy consumption. Corporations are starting to take action by implementing environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs. However, digital infrastructure is a huge contributor to energy utilization. The collective cloud now has a bigger carbon footprint than the airline industry. So, when enterprises are evaluating and managing cloud costs, they have to look beyond the economic costs and also consider the environmental cost and potential harm to the planet—they have a responsibility to use cloud services efficiently with zero waste.
So, the questions to ask are: How do you know if your organization is using the cloud as efficiently as possible, and how do you prove the software you’re developing is cloud-efficient? An organization can have a major competitive advantage if they make cloud cost efficiency a priority for all teams involved—especially given the ongoing climate crisis and current market downturn. Below are three basic rules to ensure continuous cloud cost efficiency.
1. Pay For and Use Only What is Needed
The cloud is a service that gets turned on and off, like a light switch. And, like a light switch, it should also be turned off when not in use. Also, as is the case with separate bins for trash and recyclables, organizations shouldn’t reserve large instances when a medium-sized instance will be acceptable. How much cloud is required will change over time, but it’s rooted in knowing who—which team, application, etc.—is using which cloud resource for what purpose at any given time. Ideally, no cloud resource should be left untagged and no cost unallocated, even for shared resources. Organizations can then focus on eliminating unused and underutilized resources.
2. Understand the Impact
Take advantage of tools that measure the carbon footprint of cloud usage. When organizations can reduce their footprint, it saves money and impacts other business metrics, such as cost of goods sold (COGS), employee satisfaction and even customer experience. Experiment with different technical levers and see how they impact the cloud costs—this will also lead to smarter choices. By empowering engineering teams with cloud cost data, organizations will enable greater efficiency from the beginning of the software development life cycle.
3. Cultivate Conscientiously
Cloud consumption will increase as a business grows—but is it growing efficiently? According to the Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report, optimizing usage is the top cloud initiative for the sixth year running, as cloud costs can spiral out of control quickly for a growing SaaS business. With accurate budgeting and forecasting capabilities, organizations can take advantage of long-term savings plans and reserved instances with confidence. In addition, addressing cost anomalies quickly will assist in the stabilization of growth. Not to mention the fact that cloud cost management products offer automated recommendations; the faster users act on cost-cutting alerts, the more money and energy will be saved in the long run.
When an organization is reviewing cost reports and deciding which infrastructure changes to make, they should also give engineering teams real-time visibility and control over cloud costs so they can act faster and more ethically. With a corporate focus on cloud cost efficiency, organizations can brag about their reduced carbon footprint and be confident that their “Go Green” attitude is benefiting customers, employees and shareholders and, above all, the planet.