Sustainability as a non-functional requirement - Sustainability Pillar

Sustainability as a non-functional requirement

Adding sustainability to your list of business requirements can result in more cost-effective solutions. Focusing on getting more value from the resources you use and using fewer of them directly translates to cost savings on AWS as you pay only for what you use.

Meeting sustainability targets might not require equivalent trade-offs in one or more other traditional metrics such as uptime, availability, or response time. You can achieve significant gains in sustainability with no measurable impact on service levels. Where minor trade-offs are required, the sustainability improvements gained by these trade-offs can outweigh the change in quality of service.

Encourage your team members to continually experiment with sustainability improvements as they develop functional requirements. Teams should also embed proxy metrics when setting goals to ensure that they evaluate resource intensity when developing their workloads.

The following are example trade-offs that can reduce the cloud resources you consume:

Adjust quality of result: You can trade Quality of Results (QoR) for a reduction in workload intensity with approximate computing. The practice of approximate computing looks for opportunities to exploit the gap between what customers need and what you actually produce. For example, if you place your data in a set data structure, you can drop the ORDER BY operator in SQL to remove unnecessary processing, saving resources while still providing an acceptable answer.

Adjust response time: An answer with a slower response time can reduce carbon by minimizing shared overhead. Processing ad hoc, ephemeral tasks can incur startup overhead. Group and process tasks in batches instead of paying for overhead each time a task arrives. Batch processing trades increased response time for a reduction in the shared overhead of spinning up an instance, downloading the source code, and running the process.

Adjust availability: With AWS, you can add redundancy and meet high-availability targets with just a few clicks. You can increase redundancy through techniques like static stability by provisioning idle resources that always result in decreased utilization. Evaluate the needs of the business when setting targets. Relatively minor trade-offs in availability can result in much larger improvements in utilization. For example, the static stability architecture pattern involves provisioning idle failover capacity to immediately take on load after a component fault. Relaxing the availability requirement can remove the need for idle online capacity by allowing time for automation to deploy replacement resources. Adding failover capacity on-demand drives higher overall utilization with no impact to the business during normal operations and has the secondary benefit of reducing costs.