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Cloud computing has provided organizations in the tech industry with many benefits. Whether by helping to create a remote work environment or saving companies substantial costs, the cloud has transformed the ways businesses operate in the modern world. One of the major benefits of cloud computing technology is how it contributes to sustainability. The cloud reduces onsite activity associated with hardware and computing power consumption. Companies on the cloud do not need to maintain physical hardware or worry about disposing or recycling it. Cloud computing also eliminates the need to house and power an infrastructure. Not investing in physical IT equipment and consuming it as a service has environmental benefits because it helps to reduce the carbon footprint of major corporations. Below are some of the ways the cloud has helped contribute to sustainability efforts. Reduces Energy Consumption The National Renewable Laboratory confirmed that data centers consume 1.8% of the overall energy consumption in the US each year because onsite servers need to be powered by large amounts of electricity. Data centers require significant upkeep and maintenance and power supplies and cooling fans are also needed, which use a lot of electricity. Not only does the electricity provide power for servers, but it is also used for cooling fans when servers overheat. Research funded by Google and conducted at the Berkeley lab found that cloud computing software can provide up to an 87% decrease in electricity usage. The energy savedx is so great that it could be used to power Los Angeles for an entire year, and can help businesses save 60-85% in energy costs. Decreases Greenhouse Gas Emissions Sustainable computing decreases the amount of GHG emitted from data centers. GHG are created in data centers through the life cycling that occurs. This includes: producing materials for the equipment, assembling it, using it within the data center, and then disposing of it once the life cycle is complete. A survey conducted by Accenture revealed that cloud computing has a large environmental impact on carbon emissions. By using green computing approaches, large companies can decrease their carbon footprint from up to 30% and smaller organizations can decrease it to 90%. A CDP report also came to the conclusion that offsite services can reduce annual carbon emissions by 85.7 million metric tons. Dematerialization Dematerialization refers to the replacement of physical products that create greenhouse gas emissions to a virtual equivalent or replacement. Cloud services reduce energy consumption as well as e-waste, and encourage organizations to conduct their businesses virtually. Examples include video conferencing and sharing documents rather than printing multiple copies to distribute to a large number of employees. Using green computing architectures results in fewer physical machines and hardware, which means having a lower environmental impact. The cloud allows businesses to focus on their daily tasks without having to worry about IT and maintaining infrastructure that they would have onsite. By reducing physical products, such as equipment and hardware, cloud computing reduces the amount of e-waste that occurs when disposing of these products. As mentioned, it also helps organizations to go paperless with cloud storage options, such as Google Drive. Utilization RatesOn-prem companies use their own private data centers, which means the equipment is purchased and then set up to deal with high usage spikes, which results in lower utilization rates. When the hardware isn’t being used, energy is still being used which negatively impacts the environment. The cloud decreases the amount of machine use that an organization would require, translating to higher utilization. Since cloud servers do not require physical equipment, they tend to be 2 to 4 times more efficient because of a strong infrastructure. Hardware SpeedData center hardware is used for long amounts of time before an upgrade or a replacement due to high costs. Because of their higher utilization rates, public cloud servers have a smaller lifecycle, which creates a quicker refresh time. It is more cost efficient for public cloud servers to upgrade on a regular basis, because new technology has higher efficiency rates. The more efficient hardware is, the less energy it will use in the long run. In conclusion, cloud computing services operate with higher resource (or energy) efficiency compared to traditional data centers. Sustainable computing is rooted in the concept of sharing services and hence maximizing the effectiveness of resources. Creates a Shift to Renewable Energy SourcesCloud data centers have also shifted to renewable sources of energy to power their operations, reducing their carbon footprint. By using solar, hydropower, and wind, companies are attempting to generate more eco-friendly electricity. Cloud providers are currently working towards creating more renewable energy options. Helps with Remote WorkingEmployees of an organization no longer need to be in an office, they can work from anywhere, at any time, at any place.The cloud allows employees to share and distribute documentation through its server. Working collaboratively is now possible because of cloud computing as employees can now share company information in a secure and safe environment. Secure data storage and management allows for a smooth work environment for both employees and the business. Workers no longer need to go on long commutes, decreasing the amount of pollution and e-waste that is occurring within the environment. Rackspace Technology and Green Computing Rackspace Technology is a cloud computing services pioneer with multi cloud solutions across apps, data, and security. The platform recognizes that it is time for enterprises to prioritize sustainability, and IT leaders must take the lead in driving sustainability efforts. Rackspace’s Chief Architect, Nirmal Ranganathan, states that “Cloud computing, green computing architectures, design principles, and understanding the data around energy consumption are all critical components to modernize an IT industrial complex skills, infrastructure, and applications. For a more sustainable IT future, the key to sustainability efforts is in the data. Differing perspectives about business pledges versus their actual performance is ongoing and constant. Often, the former is more ambitious than the latter. Data will play a vital role in the drive toward net zero to verify claims made by business partners and to accurately measure a business’ own carbon footprint.” Rackspace focuses on empowering companies to grow using technology. Through the delivery of cloud services, building efficient serverless architectures and embodying design principles focused on driving long term value creation, Rackspace Technology is contributing to an overall reduction of energy consumption and building Sustainable IT. Migrating and modernizing companies to Cloud environments helps to reduce the number of over-provisioned, energy-hungry data centers across an enterprise.
At this virtual event, speakers from Google, Intel, and Workspot presented practical tips for corporate and individual sustainability. Corporate culture is essential to the success of any organization. Leaders should strive to embed sustainability practices in their organization’s core culture by continuously incentivizing and educating employees about the importance of sustainability. At this 2Chat event, panelists shared insights about how their respective organizations are adopting sustainable practices to reduce their carbon footprint, conserve resources, and promote social responsibility. They also addressed the challenges and opportunities that come with implementing sustainable strategies and the benefits these strategies offer the environment and the corporate bottom line.Our speakers focused on the changes they have made to reach these outcomes. Attendees learned more about each organization’s efforts, such as: How every single product operated on Google Cloud is carbon neutral, from at-home Google Search to a large business running on Google Cloud Intel’s success in lowering its carbon footprint by 80% Workspot’s advanced power management on Google Cloud, which increases carbon reduction for compute resources by up to 72% compared to legacy VDI on-premise data centers running 24/7 Watch the full recording here:
End user computing devices account for 1% of greenhouse gas emissions. This may not sound like a lot, but it’s far too much if we want to change the course of our planet’s future. Fortunately, sustainability is a top-ranking trend across the business landscape, and Michael Wyatt, Head of Google’s Chrome Enterprise in EMEA, was happy to join C2C Global’s Clean Clouds Happy Earth event to tell our members about using Chrome OS to practice Sustainable IT.Chrome has committed to more sustainable manufacturing, consumption, and downstream practices for managing its products, integrating sustainability into the entire device lifecycle. Chrome’s manufacturing partners are producing more sustainable devices, including the first made entirely from ocean-bound plastics. Chromebooks also use up to 46% less energy than competitors. If other vendors adopt these practices, and customers make it a priority to invest in these resources, the goal of a sustainable future will be that much easier to achieve.After reviewing Chrome’s commitments, Wyatt introduced two case studies submitted by Chrome customers. Kingston & Sutton Council partnered with Citrix, Chrome, and Acer to update its systems and reduce their energy consumption by one third. Nordic Choice Hotels converted 2,000 windows PCs to chrome using OS Flex in one weekend after suffering a ransomware attack to adopt more secure software without investing in any new machines. The company distributed one-pagers to all of its hotels and each location’s staff migrated their machines onsite. As these stories demonstrate, sustainability is achievable for any organization willing to work proactively with Chrome.Watch a full video of Wyatt’s presentation below: Extra Credit:
What does it take to build resiliency into your supply chain in a world full of potential crises? With the complexities of world health, geopolitics, and the labor market, no one person can expect to predict every obstacle; however, we can broaden the scope of our data to make better-informed decisions.Louisa Loran is the Director for Supply Chain and Logistics in Industry Solutions at Google Cloud and brings in Google’s technology and thinking to transform and solve for businesses’ supply chains. Loran explains that using Google Cloud accelerators, companies can open new forms of collaboration by breaking down data silos to access geospatial information, media sentiment, and assessments for raw material risks.Watch Louisa’s presentation from C2C Global’s Clean Clouds, Happy Earth event below: Extra Credit:
In 2019, Emily Ma, Head of Google Cloud’s Food for Good program, began her journey as a Googler conducting waste audits. Every day, Ma and her team members would collect every trash bag in their Google facility, cordon it off in a designated outdoor space, and sort through all of it piece by piece. The goal of this process was to categorize the waste to understand what the Googlers in the building threw away every day. One particular insight emerged very quickly: office workers, like people everywhere, waste a lot of food.When Ma was working on supply chain hardware, she says, waste yields of less than 95% were considered “unconscionable.” By comparison, she adds with emphasis, “The food system has a 60% yield.” Ma started multiple teams at Google to enhance transparency for supply chains within the company and beyond. They used tens of thousands of video recordings of people throwing away food to build computer vision algorithms that recognize trends in food waste disposal. These trends align with what we already know: “Our food system is designed to overproduce.”Since 2014, Google Food has successfully saved 10 Million pounds of food waste, which is equivalent to over 25,000 pounds of carbon and 1.25 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all Google office spaces with water for 5 years. “There is a genius in setting out bold goals,” says Ma. By 2025, Google plans to reduce food waste per Googler by 50%, and divert all of that food waste away from landfill, where it would otherwise emit methane gas. To do so, Ma’s teams plans to focus their efforts in five areas: sourcing and procurement, operations optimization, user behavior change, physical infrastructure, and food recovery.In 2019, Google made a commitment to “circularity” to maximize reuse of finite resources in Google’s operations and empower others to do the same. Google is also the anchor funder for a $10 million catalytic grant through ReFED, the premiere food waste research organization in the United States. To learn more about these and the other efforts Ma has taken on with Google Food, watch the presentation she gave at C2C Global’s Clean Clouds, Happy Earth event below: Extra Credit:
The centerpiece of C2C’s virtual Earth Day conference, Clean Clouds, Happy Earth, was a panel discussion on sustainability in EMEA featuring C2C and Google Cloud partners HCL and AMD and cosmetics superpower L’Oreal. Moderated by Ian Pattison, EMEA Head of Sustainability Practice at Google Cloud, the conversation lasted the better part of an hour and explored a range of strategies for enabling organizations to build and run sustainable technology on Google Cloud.According to Sanjay Singh, Executive VP of the Google Cloud Ecosystem Unit at HCL technologies, when advising customers across the value chain evaluating cloud services, Google Cloud becomes a natural choice because of its focus on sustainable goals. Connecting customers to Google Cloud is a key part of HCL’s broader program for maintaining sustainable business practices at every organizational level. “What you cannot measure, you cannot improve” says Singh, which is why HCL has created systems to measure every point of emission under their purview for carbon footprint impact. In alignment with Google Cloud’s commitment to run a carbon-free cloud platform by 2030, HCL plans to make its processes carbon neutral in the same timeframe.Suresh Andani, Senior Director of Cloud Vertical Marketing at AMD, serves on a task force focused on defining the company’s sustainability goals as an enterprise and as a vendor. As a vendor, AMD prioritizes helping customers migrate to the cloud itself as well as making its compute products (CPUS and GPUS) more energy efficient, which they plan to do by a factor of 30 by 2025. On the enterprise side, Andani says, AMD relies on partners and vendors, so making sure AMD as an organization is sustainable expands to its ecosystem of suppliers. One of the biggest challenges, he says, is to measure partners’ operations. This challenge falls to AMD’s corporate responsibility team.Health and beauty giant L’Oreal recently partnered with Google Cloud to run its beauty tech data engine. In the words of architect Antoine Castex, a C2C Team Lead in France, sustainability at L’Oreal is all about finding “the right solution for the right use case.” For Castex, this means prioritizing Software as a Service (SaaS) over Platform as a Service (PaaS), and only in the remotest cases using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). He is also emphatic about the importance of using serverless architecture and products like AppEngine, which only run when in use, rather than running and consuming energy 24/7.For Hervé Dumas, L’Oreal’s Sustainability IT Director, these solutions are part of what he calls “a strategic ambition,” which must be common across IT staff. Having IT staff dedicated to sustainability, he says, creates additional knowledge and enables necessary transformation of the way the company works. As Castex puts it, this transformation will come about when companies like L’Oreal are able to “change the brain of the people.”As Castex told C2C in a follow-up conversation after the event, the most encouraging takeaway from the panel for L’Oreal was the confirmation that other companies and tech players have “the same dream and ambition as us.” Watch a full recording of the conversation below, and check back to the C2C website over the next two weeks for more content produced exclusively for this community event. Also, if you’re based in EMEA and want to connect with other Google Cloud customers and partners in the C2C community, join us at one of our upcoming face-to-face events: Extra Credit:
On April 21, 2022, C2C hosted a live virtual Earth Day conference dedicated to all things sustainability in the cloud. Built around a live panel of C2C and Google Cloud customers and partners, the Clean Clouds, Happy Earth program also included a series of sessions featuring Google representatives, exploring different use cases and topics of high priority for all collaborators on the shared mission to bring about a clean and happy future for the cloud and the Earth. Over the next three weeks, we’ll be publishing these sessions on our website for you to view, share, and discuss with the rest of the C2C community. The video below is a presentation from Jenny Fernandez, Google Cloud’s Human Truths Lead in EMEA, about using data on human consumption patterns to inform more sustainable business and technical solutions: Check back to this page in the coming days for more of the content produced for this event, and please feel free to share your own thoughts here or directly to our community. Extra Credit:
Sustainability is an inherent value of cloud computing and storage. According to Suresh Andani, Senior Director of Cloud Vertical Marketing at C2C Global Gold partner AMD, data center sustainability, which used to be an afterthought, has now become a key requirement. The first step to a more sustainable compute solution, he says, is migration to the cloud. This gives companies like AMD an immediate advantage: they are already offering a more sustainable solution. However, along with this advantage comes a challenge. All cloud partners provide the option to migrate. How can companies like AMD help further?AMD will appear alongside a full lineup of C2C and Google Cloud customers and partners this Thursday, April 21, 2022 at Clean Clouds, Happy Earth, a special C2C Earth Day event for companies and practitioners committed to sustainable cloud solutions. Participating companies include Deutsche Bank and Nordic Choice Hotels, and full sessions will explore topics such as supply chain resiliency, food waste, environmental, social, and governance analysis, and sustainable IT. Andani will join a panel of executives featuring Sanjay Singh of C2C platinum partner HCL, Antoine Castex––a C2C Team Lead in France––and Hervé Dumas of L’Oreal, and Ian Pattison, EMEA Head of Sustainability Practice at Google. “Energy efficiency is not just about power consumed and how efficiently you address or cool. It’s also about how you make your manufacturing process more sustainable.” Andani hopes the panel will be “a channel to get the word out” about how AMD differentiates in the cloud computing space. All of AMD’s customers need to be able to reduce the amount of power they’re consuming as they process their workloads. AMD’s solutions are designed to solve this problem at the root cause. “Energy efficiency is not just about power consumed and how efficiently you address or cool,” Andani says. “It’s also about how you make your manufacturing process more sustainable.” To this end, several years ago, AMD implemented a chiplet architecture specifically designed to improve their yields and minimize waste. Now, says Andani, many of AMD’s peers are choosing to go the same route.More providers in the cloud computing space adopting a more sustainable manufacturing process is all the more reason for companies like AMD to participate in live events hosted by customer communities like C2C. As Andani was happy to share, he and Pattison have appeared together at similar events in the past. These panels, Andani affirms, are of unique value to Google Cloud customers looking to improve energy efficiency. Representatives of Google Cloud appear at such events to discuss how Google Cloud’s products use technologies such as AI and ML to monitor energy consumption. When the same panel features an end customer adopting this technology, in Andani’s words, “that completes the story.” Join C2C Global and all of our distinguished sponsors and guests at 9:00 AM EDT on April 21, 2022 to witness the complete story of sustainable computing on Google Cloud. Use the link below to register:
Reducing Scope 2 and Scope 3 carbon emissions can be complicated for global organizations; the process can be long and expensive, and it can be difficult to prove the return on investment. Hearing from leading experts in this field can make an immense impact on your plans. During this event C2C’s Uk and Ireland community heard from Trinity Lloyd, Energy Transition and Sustainability Specialist at Google Cloud, and Eric Jen, CEO and Founder of Ren Energy. The two discussed how technology can transform the decarbonization process, reduce time to value, and activate an ecosystem of shared cost. As always, there was plenty of time for audience questions.Here are some of the key takeaways from this session:Google’s energy consumption is the equivalent of that of a small country. Google hit 100% renewable in 2017, and in 2020 they limited their carbon legacy impact to 1998. Getting to 100% renewable energy is a process. It took 10 years for Google to get from carbon neutral to 100% renewable energy. Google has partnered with Ren Energy to get GCP customers carbon neutral and renewable. In 2018, Eric Jen, founder and CEO of Ren Energy, built a corporate renewable energy program at Nike that was co-ranked #1 in the world with Apple, Inc. These accolades highlighted his forward-looking approach to Scope 3 emissions in the supply chain in addition to traditional Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Ren is a Google supported sustainability fulfillment platform that transitions corporations to carbon neutral by aggregating energy demand and sourcing the most renewable solutions. To address the climate crisis, businesses need to start looking at each other and working together. If they don’t, then we will all be working independently, going about our business in uncoordinated chaos, individually trying to accomplish our carbon reduction goals. This doesn’t work, and it’s not getting us where we need to be.Watch the full recording of the session below: Looking for more events like this? Join C2C Connect: UK & Ireland again on March 17, 2022 for this event with Cloud Developer Advocate Alexis Moussine-Pouchkine:
The effort to combat climate change is such a major undertaking that no metaphor does it justice. It will take more than “all hands on deck.” We need to be more than “on board.” Every one of us has a crucial role to play. That’s why the data we have must be available to the entire public, not just governments and corporations.In October 2021, Google Cloud established partnerships with five companies engaged in environmental data collection efforts: CARTO, Climate Engine, Geotab, Egis, and Planet Labs. These companies are working with Google to make their datasets available globally on Google Cloud. As a 2020 Google Cloud Partner of the Year and a company with a stated commitment to sustainability, C2C foundational partner SpringML is excited to raise awareness of this initiative.In this fireside chat, Lizna Bandeali and SpringML’s Director of Google Cloud Services Masaf Dawood explore the background and the implications of this recent effort. Key points discussed include ease, transparency, and accessibility of data, and a focus on actionable insights. With the datasets available and Google Cloud Platform tools like BigQuery, organizations and individuals working in environmental science, agriculture, food production, and related fields can make informed predictions about everything from weather patterns to soil quality. These organizations and individuals can use these predictions to plan future resource use around vital sustainability guidelines. Watch the full video below:Are you an individual or a decision-maker at an organization pursuing sustainability? What are you doing to take up this effort? Contact us on our platform and tell us your story!
Throughout the past year, the question of whether, when, and how workplaces will reopen and work will resume onsite has guided decision-making and defined goals for organizations and individuals alike. As the year ends, answers to this question have begun to emerge, but most if not all of us will be defining these goals and making these decisions in and out of the workplace for years to come. As we at C2C look back at the year’s accomplishments and wins, we’re taking stock of the insights we’ve gathered from collaborators and guests regarding the future of work.C2C hosted a series of events this year exploring the future of work, and produced a wealth of on-demand content on the topic. The series began in the Spring, with The Future of Work from an Executive View, a C2C Navigator featuring Peter High, president of Metis Strategy, and Kelly Ducourty, Vice President of GTM strategy at Google Cloud. This high-level conversation covered far-reaching topics including customer needs and business use cases as drivers of innovation, optimizing technology to address challenges unique to remote work, and framing crisis as an opportunity to reset. For an overview of the topics covered, read our post recapping the discussion, or watch High’s keynote presentation below:High and Ducourty also returned for a second conversation on the future of work and company culture, this time joined by Brigette McInnis-Day, VP of HR at Google Cloud:Between events in this Navigator series, C2C sat down with Laurie Klasner of Quantiphi for a one-on-one conversation, also about company culture in the future of work. Klasner highlighted a number of efforts the company took to foster a healthy working culture, including “Zen days” without remote meetings and new programs around wellness and diversity. This conversation is available as an audio recording and as a written article:For the next event in this series, C2C invited Alphabet Global Chief Commercial officer Tom Galizia, MediaAgility CTO Swarraj Kulkarni, Quantiphi Co-founder Ritesh Patel, and SADA CEO Tom Safoian for a panel discussion on the topic of client empathy. Many of interviewer Sabina Bhasin’s questions recalled moments from her conversation with Klausner, particularly regarding Quantiphi’s largely India-based workforce.Patel described the help coming to India from around the world as “very humbling” but noted that the working environment in the country remained “extremely tough.” The four executives described empathy as both a challenge and a necessity of working remotely in a time of crisis, and identified time management, recalibration and resilience as skills they wanted to bring to their workplaces in the future. Watch the full conversation below:Many of the themes that emerged throughout the series came up again in the final event, a panel on employee experience featuring Patti Althen and Rujul Pathak of Workday and Greg Sly of Verizon. Empathy and diversity were raised as central concerns, as were findability, employee empowerment, and implementation of new workplace measures across industry lines. The full conversation is embedded below, and our post-event takeaway summarizes and provides clips of the key moments.These conversations generated valuable insights, but even though the future of work has arrived, many new developments are still to come. What concerns are most pressing for you as a new year approaches? What does the future of work hold for you? Join our community to tell us your story and let us know what kinds of conversations we should be starting next.
Look back on Earth Week 2021 with the C2C Community. This panel discussion was hosted between C2C community members to share their companies’ initiatives toward sustainability.L’Oreal kicked off the panel with their tips and tricks on a green cloud. Shared by:Herve Dumas, Group Chief Technology Officer Antoine Castex, GCP Architect Lead22d Consulting told the story of how sustainability was built into the core of their business DNA. Shared by:Dominik Kugelmann, Chief of Vision & Co-founder Marie Touchon, Customer Success ManagerThoughtWorks delivered a short presentation on how development teams can reduce cloud carbon emissions. Shared by:Dan Lewis-Toakley, Green Cloud Lead & Senior Developer Consultant Danielle Erickson, Senior Consultant Developer Links shared by the community:Cloud Carbon Footprint and its Cloud Carbon Footprint Repository Digital Sobriety : A responsible corporate approach Google Cloud Region Picker Lean ICT: Towards Digital Sobriety Why green cloud optimization is profitable for you and the planet (Thoughtworks)
Look back on Earth Week 2021 with the C2C Community, where Google Cloud developer advocates Stephanie Wong and Alexandrina Garcia-Verdin, and cloud sustainability lead, Chris Talbott, recorded a live episode for their GCP Podcast. Google first achieved carbon neutrality in 2007, and since 2017 Google has purchased enough solar and wind energy to match 100% of our global electricity consumption. Now Google’s building on that progress to target a new sustainability goal: running their business on carbon-free energy 24/7, everywhere, by 2030. In this recording, hear about Google’s new Cloud Region Picker sharing data about how they are performing against that objective so that you can select Google Cloud regions based on the carbon-free energy supplying them. Links shared by the community:Carbon free energy for Google Cloud regions Google Cloud Region Picker Google Environmental Report 2019
While people worldwide are celebrating Earth Week, it has become essential to take a step back and look at where we are with our responsibility towards the environment and how we can celebrate our planet while making technology more reliable and accessible to everyone. Google has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to climate action and environmental sensitivity, and this fidelity is evident in the company’s sustainability goal to run on carbon-free energy by 2030. However, what does this commitment mean for us, as Google Cloud users? Where does our responsibility lie in this sustainability mission? Google Cloud’s Sustainability Commitment In 2018, Google achieved 12 consecutive years of carbon neutrality and, for the second year in a row, matched 100% of the electricity consumption of our global operations with renewable energy. Then, it announced the goal to power operations with carbon-free energy, 24x7, 365 days a year. Currently, Google Cloud data centers use a blend of renewable and nonrenewable energy. Carbon emissions, for example, the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) into the atmosphere, are part and parcel of performing any kind of activity at the data center. However, Google Cloud is helping customers like us understand this information in a consumable format, so we can check the environmental footprint of the data centers in which we host their applications. What does this information mean for us, and how can we help make our applications friendlier to Earth while working on an optimum performance? Green Data Centers Google data centers are twice as energy-efficient as typical data centers, and they’re sharing performance data with their users to help businesses get greener. Using the Google data centers efficiency tool, teams can measure and improve energy use, assess the performance report by year and quarter.Apart from this, Google Cloud uses a healthier, greener supply chain to encourage recycling, reuse, and make more thoughtful use of our planet’s resources. However, since sustainability is a joint effort by the cloud provider and user, it is essential to understand what resources we have at our disposal to make choices that work best for our applications and the planet. Google Cloud uses the term “green data center” to indicate a sustainable data center: a service facility that utilizes energy-efficient technologies. Knowing the list of green or energy-efficient data centers can help us make the right switch for an environmentally friendly experience. Google Cloud has released carbon-friendly energy scores for Google Cloud regions. This information can help us choose locations that are energy efficient and have lower carbon emissions. Making the Right Choice for Your Applications The region picker tool can help us assess scores, and we can slide the bars in front of different metrics to shortlist the regions best optimized for our use. The snapshot below demonstrates an example of the energy score for Oregon, USA (us-west1). There are icons on the right-hand side of the region name which denote how energy efficient the region is and how expensive it is for our applications. Apart from these icons, there are three more metrics displayed for our consideration. Here’s a breakdown of what these terms stand for: Carbon-Free Energy A Google Cloud region’s carbon-free energy percentage describes how much energy comes from renewable sources and what part is nonrenewable. In our example, 89% of the power comes from renewable sources, making it an excellent, sustainable option to run our applications. Grid Carbon Intensity A Google Cloud region’s carbon intensity refers to the number of grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) that it takes to make one unit of electricity a kilowatt per hour (kW/hour). Simply put, a region with lower carbon intensity is a more sustainable choice to run our applications. Google has released this information since we may encounter situations where more than one region might receive an equal portion of its energy from renewable resources. This information can help us make a better choice for Earth. In our example, we have a low grid carbon intensity, which makes it a good choice. Google Compute Engine Price While we run our applications on Google Cloud, we must also factor in the price along with a good sustainability model. Google helps us with this metric to make a good choice that works best for us, our users, and the environment. AI for Sustainability AI has the potential to optimize the working of various applications, conserve resources by detecting energy emission reductions, remove/reduce CO2, help develop greener supply chain networks, and make the best use of available resources to avoid wastage. To avoid reinventing the wheel, you can refer to our outstanding contributor Leah Zitter’s article on the impact of AI on energy efficiency in the Extra Credits section. Google’s DeepMind has reduced the electricity for cooling Google’s data centers by 30% and created learning systems to optimize Android battery performance. For the visual learners, here’s an infographic outlining how we can use AI in our goal towards a sustainable environment: Extra Credit Google Cloud Sustainability Details Google Environmental Report Google Cloud Region Picker Tool Google Cloud Efficiency and Sustainability Report Google Cloud AI Adoption Framework Impact of AI on Energy Efficiency
Data centers house the computing power we need for many of our favorite cloud-based applications and services. With this power comes the increase in carbon emissions and the destruction of wildlife and the environment. To help reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, Google continues to improve its data centers and stays committed to using carbon-free energy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Why CFE? In the early years of cloud computing, many large Silicon Valley tech companies recognized the need to reduce the amount of energy required to power their equipment. The goal for tech companies like Google is to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, lower their carbon footprints, and stem from the “Go Green” movement.With a carbon-free emissions (CFE) effort, data centers use renewable energy and function mainly on hydroelectric power. Both renewable energy and hydroelectric power produce no carbon emissions, which is better for the environment. To help display to the public that they are doing their part, many of the more prominent tech companies with data centers worldwide provide metrics that show their initiatives. Using CFE Metrics for Business Companies such as Google publish these metrics for the general public, but it also helps businesses determine where to run their applications. The higher the CFE rating, the more likely you can run an application in the specific region without affecting emission results. Google suggests running applications in zones with the highest CFE metrics, but using scripts to automate processes at a specific time in the day will also reduce the energy necessary to power applications.In particular, Google indicates that their U.S.-based Iowa and Oregon data centers produce the least amount of carbon emissions. If you can run your application in these zones without harming application performance, a majority of your computing power would not produce any carbon. According to Google, its best cloud locations in terms of CFE are Sao Paulo, Brazil (87%), Finland (77%), Oregon, U.S. (89%). Choosing Google Cloud Regions with Low CFE To contribute to a lower carbon footprint, you would choose a data center with the best CFE rating, but there are complications for some application owners. Selecting a region away from most users will increase latency and lower performance for your users. Also, application owners who must focus on compliance are restricted to specific regions. These concerns could make it challenging to choose an area with the best CFE rating.Google has some basic suggestions to help you choose a region and run applications with lower carbon emissions: Pick a region with the best CFE rating where you can permanently run your new applications. Run batch jobs in regions with the best CFE rating. Batch jobs usually run during off-peak hours and can run anywhere without affecting your application performance. Set a corporate policy around choosing data centers with a high CFE rating. Improve the efficiency of cloud resources so that they do not take as much computing power to run. Bottom Line Google has been committed to CFE since 2007, but the tech giant plans to be completely carbon-free by 2030. You, too, can do your part by choosing a data center that works with renewable energy and uses equipment that reduces the need to rely on fossil fuels. By working with data centers with a high CFE rating, you do your part to preserve the environment. Extra Credit https://cloud.google.com/sustainability/region-carbonhttps://datacenternews.us/story/google-cloud-publishes-carbon-emissions-data-for-every-cloud-regionhttps://www.computerweekly.com/news/252497993/Google-Cloud-shares-carbon-free-datacentre-energy-usage-stats-with-users
The human pursuit of solving challenges is the cornerstone of progress. Some could argue that technology is simply that desire, amplified. But what happens when we’ve solved so well, our iteration of efficiencies and productivity is becoming dangerous? Barry Schwartz, an emeritus professor of psychology at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, researched efficiencies and when frictions occur — when does efficiency become a bad thing? “Some motivation produces excellent performance; too much motivation produces choking. Some group collaboration produces cohesion and enhances productivity; too much of it leads to staleness. Some empathy enables you to understand what another person is going through; too much could prevent you from saying and doing hard things,” Schwartz wrote. And, in this case, the “bad thing” is efficiency. But can what got us here also get us out —can technology solve climate change? The answer lies somewhere between yes and no, as most complicated solutions do. Still, perhaps prompted by the ongoing pandemic, some companies’ efforts have directed curiosity toward climate change, honestly acknowledging that decisions today will shape our futures to come. How Technology Can Also Get Us Through Google has been carbon-neutral since 2007 and is working toward being carbon-free by 2030. “...that’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week at all of our data centers across the world,” said Mark Innes, VP, Australia, and New Zealand and Asia Pacific Industry Verticals. “We’re building tools and technologies to help others improve the planet, and for us at Google Cloud, that means building new tools and technologies to help our cloud customers track and report on the impact of their own IT operations,” Innes said. “Every customer that comes to Google Cloud automatically reduces their emissions running on our programs.”Deloitte is also working toward being carbon-free by 2030, and one way they’re doing so is by reducing travel, and increasing virtual hybrid was of working. They are also “pairing their buildings with 100 percent renewable energy,” said Richard Deutsch, Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte, Australia. For example, Google Cloud looked at the millions of miles UPS trucks traveled, Innes explained. “We created algorithms in conjunction with UPS to look at those tracking routes to optimize those routes, Innes said. “UPS now saves $400M per year and has reduced fuel consumption by 10M gallons per year, just by using those algorithms.”There are other companies, too. Organic Valley, for example, arms its farmers with solar energy resources and gives them complete control over their farms. But there are countless examples. Most recently, these 11 organizations in Europe received funding support from Google to instigate positive environmental change.For example, Materiom provides open data on how to make materials that nourish local economies and ecologies. They’re working following the FAIR digital Object Framework, “which help enable the FAIR Data Principles of Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.” To do this, they use Corda and an extended implementation of schema.org. “The platform will enable Linked Data, or Semantic Web technology allowing data to be shared and reused between applications, organizations, and communities. Data from numerous distributed producers will be referenced with unique, persistent identifiers, and a public-facing API will enable the community to develop apps for reading and writing data. Our use of schema.org/DefinedTerm will enable agile development in response to user needs as we contribute to an emerging vocabulary for biomaterials across communities of research and practice.” Get to know them and the ten other companies in the clip below. Curious about your climate impact? Deloitte whipped up an interactive quiz to help companies and individuals alike answer that impact question. Trvst, a social impact agency, breaks down reasons for why and how technology impacts the environment and what can be done about it. You can also learn how Google is working with digital-native companies across the globe to build a greener future. __Stay with C2C all week; we’ll have more content and events coming up to keep you thinking about how you, too, can work toward creating a healthier world.
Energy disruption comes through two planks. First, people using more renewables (and less dirty energy), which, in turn, comes through lowering the costs of renewables and decreasing the use of dirty energy. Second, energy disruption—and a cleaner world—comes through collating the millions of sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices installed each year and managing them on one pane of glass.AI achieves both objectives through its capabilities that allow consumers, retailers, and businesses to predict, analyze, and classify energy data to control them. AIOps helps engineers collate all energy-released data on one pane of glass and monitor, predict, and implement energy controls in real-time through AI functionalities. AI Enables Adaptive Controls AI makes our world more energy efficient through three of its capabilities: prediction, classification, and insight generation.Prediction problems include questions like: Can I predict whether this will or will not occur, given the available data? In the retail and commercial space, fault prediction and dynamic maintenance are among the most straightforward uses of AI and helps operators predict equipment failures. It does this by using sensor data from various units and significantly reduces downtime and maintenance costs. For example, DeepMind, a subset of Google, uses reinforcement learning to reduce energy use in its data centers by 15%. In Cambridge, Origami Energy uses ML to predict asset availability and market prices in near real-time. Then, there is insight generation, where I can get information from the available big data collated by AI. In a commercial and retail setting, AI models learn from individual data and then issue changes to individual units. For example, U.K.-based electricity and gas utility company National Grid uses AI learning tools to better forecast demand to the system, resolving to reduce Britain’s energy usage by 10%.As a practical example, I’ve seen that this massive surge in energy comes from using my washing machine on certain days. I use this data to problem-solve ways to slash the energy increase. I group incoming data from my energy devices into categories, enabling me to deduce where I can reduce energy usage. For Devs and Architects For IT developers and AI engineers, AI achieves efficient energy management by helping engineers collate and manage all AI-driven assets on one piece of glass. These internet-connected devices include generation assets, smart buildings, IoT and smart meters, and EV and mobility. This smart microgrid helps engineers do the following: Monitor all energy assets—for example, solar, EV, smart buildings, or distributed energy—regardless of form. Control and optimize energy assets in real-time, trying to regulate ecosystems at the lowest possible cost. This is done through ML, gleaning insights from the mass of accumulated data on energy generation and consumption usage (for example, if the solar system will generate solar energy in the next 15 minutes). Engineers manage these assets based on the ML algorithm. Collect insight from aggregated big data—for example, from renewable energy assets and electricity tariffs. Analyze and predict how the energy assets perform, adjusting algorithms based on generation and consumption patterns, like providing scheduling information for energy providers. Through these controls, engineers can forecast and prevent potential problems. Looking Forward Our world would be a less healthy, more energy-dense place if it weren’t for AI. From platforms like your Google Fuchsia OS, you can supervise, regulate, and control your energy assets to cut costs, predict how they will work in the future, and introduce innovation, among other items. For customers, business owners, and developers, AI helps them see in real-time how their energy assets perform and decide how to recalibrate to cut energy usage, use more renewable energy, or more wisely manage their energy devices. Let’s Connect! Leah Zitter, Ph.D., has a master’s in philosophy, epistemology, and logic and a Ph.D. in research psychology. Extra Credit This piece kicks off our week all around Earth Week, thanks for reading. We have a lot more for you through the week, check it out here. Don’t forget to sign up and join us on Friday for a community discussion around all topics related to Earth Week!
C2C invited Google Cloud’s VP and Global Head of Solutions Engineering Hamidou Dia to discuss building a carbon-free future. The topic is timely considering the mid-September announcement from Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who laid out the company’s ambitious goals as it heads into its third decade of climate action.“The science is clear,” he said. “We have until 2030 to chart a sustainable course for our planet or face the worst consequences of climate change. Sustainability has been a core issue for us since Google was founded 22 years ago. And now, we are embarking on the next decade of climate action and moving the world closer to a carbon-free future for all.”Dia spoke candidly about Google’s achievements throughout the first two decades and where it's setting its goals over the next two. Watch the full interview below.
In 2018, Google announced it had hired Andrew Moore as the head of artificial intelligence (AI) at Google Cloud. He was tasked with leading all AI efforts and taking the cloud company to new frontiers in its efforts to democratize AI technology. The Google press release on the announcement of his hire read: “We believe if we can get every developer in the world using AI in great ways, we can spur innovation that will benefit everyone.” There is no better champion of this cause than Moore, who was cherry-picked from one of the most prestigious schools in this field—Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science. For more than four years, Moore served as Dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, bringing his expertise and passion to teaching young minds eager to do good in the world, using science and technology as their foundation.He has said many times, “I am passionate about the impact of technology on the future of society.” That impact has never been more present than it is today, and C2C was eager to talk to him about his story, his goals, and how he sees his legacy unfolding as he evolves in his role at Google Cloud.Watch the full interview below.
In 1999, Urs Hölzle joined Google as one of its first 10 employees and the first vice president of engineering. Twenty-one years later, he serves as the senior vice president for technical infrastructure and oversees the design, installation, and operation of the servers, networks, and data centers that power Google’s services. In sum, he is the person in charge of making all of Google’s wares available to developers around the world via Google Cloud.Watch the whole interview below.
This article was originally published on November 5, 2020.C2C invited Google Cloud’s VP and Global Head of Solutions Engineering Hamidou Dia to discuss building a carbon-free future. The topic is timely considering the mid-September announcement from Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who laid out the company’s ambitious goals as it heads into its third decade of climate action.“The science is clear,” he said. “We have until 2030 to chart a sustainable course for our planet or face the worst consequences of climate change. Sustainability has been a core issue for us since Google was founded 22 years ago. And now, we are embarking on the next decade of climate action and moving the world closer to a carbon-free future for all.”Dia spoke candidly about Google’s achievements throughout the first two decades and where it's setting its goals over the next two. Here are three takeaways from the conversation that took place. Google Has a Track Record with Climate Action Google has always maintained that in 2007 it became the first major company to become carbon neutral, and that a decade later, it was the first major company to match its energy use with 100% renewable energy. In fact, Pichai has stated, “We operate the cleanest global cloud in the industry, and we’re the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy.” Dia added that in the beginning, Google was very focused on reducing its environmental impact, “first by increasing our energy efficiency, and then by offsetting the carbon that we emit to our operation.” The company did this by improving the energy efficiency of its data centers and servers so that they were twice as efficient as the industry average. “In the second decade of operation the focus was placed on expanding access to renewable energy,” Dia added. As Google looks to the third decade of action, it plans to go further to help build a carbon-free future for everyone by eliminating its entire carbon legacy, committing to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy in all its data centers and campuses, investing in technologies to help its partners and customers make more sustainable choices, and generating more than 20,000 new jobs in clean energy and associated industries. “The biggest focus is on customers and partners,” Dia said. “If we are helping you move your services and workload to the cloud, we can today help you calculate the carbon footprint of those workloads.” How a Move to the Cloud Helps Customers Reduce Their Carbon FootprintThere is no doubt that there is an increase of customers moving to the cloud, which could be a direct result of more organizations looking to accelerate their digital transformations. But a move to the cloud could also significantly affect an organization's carbon footprint for the positive. As part of his value engineering organization, Dia has a team dedicated to helping customers conduct a sustainability assessment of its IT operations. After the assessment is complete, they provide customers a blueprint for how to reduce their carbon emissions. “What’s important here,” he noted, “is that within an organization’s digital transformation program they include a sustainability team.” He suggested that the team include stakeholders who understand how workloads on the cloud affect emissions and, ultimately, an organization’s carbon footprint. Dia provided an example. “We worked with UPS and looked at the millions of miles a truck drives to deliver packages to consumers. We created algorithms to optimize the trucking route, and now UPS saves $400 million a year by having reduced fuel consumption by 10 million gallons a year.” Dia pointed to the fact that customers not only benefit from the fact Google Cloud is one of the cleanest in the industry, but also from the fact that he and his team can go further by working with them and looking at their core business processes to help them reduce their carbon footprints. Small Organizations Have Big Impacts, TooIt’s one thing to discuss how bigger organizations like Google can make an impact by reducing their carbon footprints—or even how they can navigate the project. But what about the smaller organizations? C2C asked Dia what motivation or advice he can give smaller companies about their efforts and in how to make the best decisions for the biggest impact.“The key for any organization,” Dia stated, “is to look at digital transformation and sustainability, and to bring the two together early in the process. Make sure sustainability is at the heart of the project.” Aside from making sure to include sustainability in every business process, Dia encouraged everyone to leverage technology from partners such as Google and lean on the resources made available.He discussed a project Google Cloud did in partnership with National Geographic. “We worked with them in moving their iconic photo archive to Google Cloud,” he said. “It was a relatively small workload—a 20TB Java application—that enabled explorers and photographers to store and license their photographs.” After analyzing the carbon emission impact of moving that application to Google Cloud, Dia said it was almost a reduction of 17,000 kilograms of CO2 per year. “Moving them to Google Cloud was equivalent to not burning 18,000 pounds of coal,” he stated. Even small projects can have big impacts. AI Isn’t Eating up the EnergyAs AI and ML become increasingly more a part of business processes, the question came up if there are concerns about energy consumption of AI development and processing. Dia cited a recent industry study that shows that while the amount of computing done in data centers increased by about 550% between 2010 and 2018, the amount of energy consumed by data centers only grew by 6% during the same period. “So, while data centers now power more applications for more people than ever before, they still account for about 1% of global electricity consumption.”He noted that Google now delivers seven times as much computing power with the same amount of electricity. “There is a lot of talk about AI machines using electricity, but it is significantly less consumption, not to mention we generate significantly more value.”Ultimately, on whether he was concerned about AI being an issue when it comes to emissions, Dia was clear that the numbers don’t support the claims. “The value we get from AI far outweigh the concerns or costs of emissions. Albeit a great question, the key is to always look for the balance.” The Carbon-Free Future and the Moonshot to Get ThereGoogle has committed to quite a bit as it heads into decade three of carbon action. Dia outlined the company’s priorities and how it plans to get there. He even discussed a little bit about what could possibly be in store for the next decade after that.He noted the importance of looking at this from multiple angles—both from a technology perspective and from a transactional perspective. “In working with cloud customers of all sizes,” he noted, “we really want to invest in technology that will allow us to drive change and improve operational efficiency, but also, we want to focus on getting clean energy in the system.” He added, “That can happen by purchasing clean energy, executing more transactions, partnering with the ecosystem, and building on the renewable energy project.” The other part of this process is to focus on policy. “We're going to actively be involved in policies with partners that have a significant impact on the climate,” he said. As the company gets working on this decade’s road map, Dia said, “I’m just so proud of what we’re doing. To be able to run our entire Google footprint 24/7 carbon-free across the entire supply chain is going to be phenomenal.” As for what’s in store for the following decade, Dia said, “Once we’ve achieved that, the next goal will be to help organizations around the world tap into our technology and our learnings and follow suit.”
This article was originally published on October 19.In mid-September 2020, Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a special announcement: He laid out the company’s numerous past accomplishments and an ambitious to-do list over the next 10 years. This wasn’t about cloud-computing strategy, quarterly results, or new product development, however. Pichai was, in fact, talking about taking action on climate change. “The science is clear: The world must act now if we’re going to avert the worst consequences of climate change,” he stated. “We are committed to doing our part.”You can read more about Google’s accomplishments and goals for the future, which Pichai explains in a blog post and video, but the net-net is this: The elimination of Google’s carbon legacy, and details on how the company is going to operate on carbon-free energy by 2030.“This is our biggest sustainability moonshot yet, with enormous practical and technical complexity,” Pichai stated. “We are the first major company that's set out to do this, and we aim to be the first to achieve it.”What Does This Mean for Customers?Whether you’re running your SAP workloads on Google Cloud, using Workspace (formerly G Suite) to get your job done, or plotting your next jog via Google Maps, you’re running on the carbon-free infrastructure that Pichai noted during his announcement. But there’s a lot more to the topic, and plenty of questions have bubbled up. C2C, in fact, has captured numerous questions from customers during previous events we’ve hosted about what the Google climate-action announcement means for them, including:Do you think in the future the price for computing resources will be dictated by availability of green power sources, like wind? Does Google plan to share the best practices from the DC power efficiency project with customers and partners? Can you talk about whether there are concerns about the energy consumption of AI development and processing? And what research is being done to lessen the energy consumption?C2C is excited to announce an opportunity to hear from and ask questions of Hamidou Dia, vice president and global head of solutions engineering for Google Cloud, about building a carbon-free future. The conversation with Dia will take place on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 11 a.m. ET. You can register here and also submit your question for him in advance of the session.The stakes couldn’t be higher for every single one of us, and for its part, Google is offering a blueprint for others to follow.
This article was originally published on October 13, 2020.In the third installment of its Rockstar Conversations series, C2C welcomed Urs Hölzle to discuss modernizing infrastructure for the present and for the future—a topic front and center on most people’s minds today. Hölzle, who is one of Google’s first 10 employees, is a leading expert in this topic. In addition to his extensive knowledge and experience in working with creating and further developing Google’s infrastructure, he is the person in charge of design, installation, operations, networks, and data centers, and making it all available to developers around the world.“The most exciting part of my job is that it really changes every year,” Hölzle said. “If you think back to 20 years ago, the internet looked very different. There was no cloud, and we got to build that ourselves…that’s really exciting.” He added, “But in addition to that, another exciting part of my job is that I get to work with the part of the internet that is actually real. I get to work with the unsung heroes behind the scenes that are unknown, but that make things work.”Hölzle spoke about many topics during his hour-long appearance; here are five key takeaways from the lively conversation that took place on the C2C Rockstar stage. People Drive the Innovation at the Enterprise Level The technology is not the only thing that has evolved during Hölzle’s tenure at Google. The company itself has gone through changes, which in turn has pushed innovation forward. “One of the key things of designing the technical infrastructure for Google and for customers is to think about it in terms of how to create things that are scalable and reliable,” Hölzle said. “That is true not just for the technical parts, but really of the people parts of the organization.”Amid constant change, there are two things that have remained steady at Google. First, everything is all about collaboration. “Different disciplines need to come together when building a platform,” Hölzle said. “No one discipline is more important than another, and no one can do it alone.” Second is that there is a culture of blameless postmortems at Google. “When stuff goes wrong, we focus not on blaming who was responsible, but really on completely analyzing it and learning from it, and then putting into place measures to prevent that in the future.” Hölzle hammered home the point that solutions that are great today won’t remain great tomorrow. “Because the internet is constantly changing, the problems are changing, too, and you actually need to continuously adapt,” he said. “To be successful at scaling on an enterprise level, it’s a combination of needing to be really good at things, but at the same time needing to let go of things.” Anthos Really Works—For Everyone and EverywhereAnthos, which is an application platform that provides a consistent development and operations experience for cloud and on-premise environments, was first introduced in 2019 at the Google Next conference in San Francisco.“At Google,” Hölzle noted, “we say that launching something is not important, but landing it is.” He talked about how Anthos needed to land in customers’ hands and actually deliver value, and he believes it has done exactly that. “The real accomplishment for me about ‘Anthos the dream’ is that today it is ‘Anthos the reality.’ I'm really happy that a year and a half or so of general availability we are seeing real traction in the field, and we have production workloads in place and an exploding ecosystem around it.”Through open APIs, Anthos works to standardize tasks or questions that developers work on every day, and then provide these open APIs in a managed form so that it’s updated. “You don’t have to worry about maintaining the stack no matter where it is—whether it is on-premise on bare metal or on VMware, or in the cloud,” Hölzle said. “You can pick your environment and all these things are the same. Your teams learn it once and they can use them anywhere.” The Cloud Should Work for EveryoneHölzle has been quoted as saying, “For the cloud to take over the world, it needs to make everyone successful.” When pressed about what he meant by that statement, he answered, “When we think about the cloud today, we think of it as a technology play. But actually, the cloud is still a niche development. In the grand scheme of things, it’s 10% of the total IT.” He added, “For it to become more widely used, it needs to solve everyone’s problems, not just the problem of a technologist.”The goal is to make things easier in the cloud than they are on premise, and the examples Hölzle used included compliance, productivity, and life cycle of data. “All these things are actually still hard in the cloud, and so if the goal for the cloud is to get to 50%, 70%, or 80% of IT, you have to solve all these technical and nontechnical problems as well. And then it becomes available to a lot of these small companies that consume it indirectly, or large companies with ambitious goals, or heavily regulated companies, and so on.” Hölzle noted that if we were having this same exact conversation in 2025 looking back at 2020, “we would all be pretty embarrassed.” He said the work we are doing now on the cloud is still very primitive and very functional. “Our goal should be to look back five years from now and say, ‘well I remember liking it, but now I kinda don’t understand why because it is so much better today.’” The collective goal should be that the cloud makes everyone successful by solving more problems across the board. “It’s a big challenge, but also a big opportunity,” Hölzle said. The Benefits of Confidential ComputingJust a few months ago, Google announced the expansion of its Confidential Computing portfolio, which makes Confidential Virtual Machines (VM) publicly available, and also now includes Confidential Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) nodes. When asked what this announcement ultimately meant for customers, Hölzle noted that this move was part of a larger strategy to make cloud computing in Google Cloud Platform and Anthos completely private computing.“We want this to be computing where if you look at it and if you understand the whole stack and the whole technology, you say this is as much my infrastructure as my on-site data center and my own servers and my own set of system administrative laws. There is no provider risk in there,” he said.Hölzle further explained that confidential computing ensures that everything has encryption. “Before confidential computing, one gaffe in encryption was that your data was encrypted when it was stored and when it was in transit on the networks, but when it was being processed in main memory or in the server, it was not encrypted because it needed to be processed. Confidential computing really relies on hardware technology where the CPU always encrypts data before writing it to DRAM (dynamic random-access memory).” The biggest benefit is that there will not be a single bit of unencrypted information. “So, from the end point that holds your keys all the way into the CPU that actually touches your data, everything is encrypted. That’s the vision that we’re working through.” The Cloud Needs Clean EnergyLast month, Google Cloud set a goal to run its business on carbon-free energy everywhere, at all times, by 2030. A blog written by Hölzle noted, “This means we’re aiming to always have our data centers supplied with carbon-free energy. We are the first cloud provider to make this commitment, and we intend to be the first to achieve it, too.”This initiative—which started off as a cost-savings measure—is important for Google Cloud, especially now that the company knows the environmental impacts at stake. “In 2007, I saw that we [Google] was getting bigger, but also that climate and carbon was going to be a problem that was only going to get bigger and more urgent,” Hölzle said. “That’s when we decided to become carbon neutral.”Since 2017, Google Cloud has purchased as much renewable power every year as it uses in all of its operations. “For every kilowatt of power we consume, we purchase a kilowatt hour of renewable energy from a new wind or solar farm,” Hölzle said. As part of its newest goal set forth this year, Hölzle noted in his blog that as Google learns by doing, it will also help develop useful tools to empower others to follow suit. “In the last decade, we've led the way in deploying renewable energy at scale—and, in the process, helped drive down costs for wind and solar. It’s time to do the same for next-generation technologies that will allow for a wholesale transition to 24/7 carbon-free energy.”
This article was originally published on September 30, 2020.In the second installment of its Rockstar Conversations series, C2C welcomed Andrew Moore to discuss with a global audience his thoughts on accelerating transformation with analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. Those in attendance were in for a treat, as there isn’t anyone more passionate about this subject than Moore, who worked at Google from 2006 to 2014, took a break to enter academia, and ultimately came back to Google as the head of artificial intelligence (AI) at Google Cloud in 2018. “I think for a lot of us who've gone through both academia as well as the business side of things, we've really spent our careers wanting to show how advanced automation can improve the human condition,” Moore said. “Those of us lucky enough to be in these roles transitioning from AI theory to actual deployed systems really enjoy that aspect of life.”Here are five key takeaways from the very lively conversation that took place on the C2C Rockstar stage. Advanced Automation Can Improve Our Lives Professionally and PersonallyWith his advanced background, Moore has a very keen sense as to where AI technology can go in the future and what it is capable of accomplishing in the present. “One of the big AI trends right now is the ability to understand human utterances with 99.9% precision,” he said. This means that we can take industries where automation is encoded in unstructured documents or images and start to structure them so the big databases of structured information, which run traditional enterprises, now get enriched with much more additional information.Moore noted that in the past, humans spent a lot of time and money analyzing all of these unstructured pieces of information. However, we currently live in an era where “it is now possible to instead turn that into something where all of the boring extraction stuff happens automatically.” With advanced automation, we can focus into the nuances of information, while also stepping back and looking at the complete picture, all along making better decisions. Know Your Data—All of It!When I first spoke to Moore in preparation for his Rockstar Conversation with C2C, he discussed his passion around democratizing AI and making it a tool that anyone can help build. Some people in the audience, however, noted that the real challenge of AI isn’t the training or the model, but rather the data cleaning and filtering out of the bias that may go into it. They asked, “What is the next great evolution we can expect to help speed up these time-consuming tasks?”Moore really enjoyed this question and warned that he may get a bit philosophical with his response. “We don't know exactly what's going on in the world right now; we’re all working off of partial information,” he said. “The same is true for the computers using AI as well. Data simply reduces the uncertainty—whether in the world or in a computer.”Moore cautioned that you shouldn’t focus on retrieving data from one simple spreadsheet, but rather from as many sources as possible. “If you want to understand a problem, there's no single source or single beautiful spreadsheet to work with.” He added, “It is the job of a good data scientist or good AI system to combine all these partial pieces of information to reduce the uncertainty and to get a full picture of what's going on.” How to Start and Manage Your AI Project Like a ProDuring the Next OnAir Talks series on Cloud AI, we heard a lot of customers asking for insight into starting AI projects. Moore addressed this during the C2C Rockstar Conversation and noted that the very first thing you need to do is discuss whether the experience you're trying to accomplish is for your business or the customer. To answer this, you must be able to uncover what is most important to the customer and what business efficiencies you're trying to accomplish. Beyond just looking at the outcome experience, Moore noted you need to also understand how AI affects everyone involved. “You got to ask who’s currently affected both in your organization as well as existing customers and third-party stakeholders. Begin with the problem, then look at how it would have to change an organization and be ready for that.” With the above questions answered, Moore suggests being mindful of things like regulations in your industry as well as potential technology blockers. “Get a senior-level sponsor early on,” he said. “It’s really important to have the hearts and minds of high-level sponsors who can help move that change management forward.” How to Determine Useful vs. Wasteful AI Moore is passionate about making sure technology is useful to not only businesses, but also to society at large, and he says there are ways of identifying what is useful versus what is wasteful AI. “You have to have measurements to know whether your AI system is succeeding or not,” he insisted. “Getting those metrics into place is the most important part of this.”He summarized it by describing advertising in the early days of AI where most businesses used the technology to predict if a customer would click on a link that was presented to them. The intention should be different today as AI has evolved. He recommended training systems on more long-term goals now, focusing on whether your organization's audience will make a purchase and become repeat customers.Moore describes the importance of solving for a specific business problem rather than trying to predict a specific action. “Whether metrics of success are simply the application accuracy or regression accuracy of the underlying machine learning tells me that we are just trying to be good at predicting a specific thing, rather than solving an end-to-end business problem.” When Done Right, AI Is Good for EveryoneAlthough Moore is widely known for his work in computer science, he is also very committed to addressing problems that affect everyone. The last time he and I talked, he told me that technologists need to do their part and actually help make our planet better for our children and grandchildren. During the C2C Rockstar Conversation, he noted his concern with the current carbon emissions and energy consumption in the world and explained how Google Cloud has been heavily investing in low-energy data centers to eventually become carbon neutral. One way Google Cloud is accomplishing this is through deep reinforcement learning on Google Cloud. “With this technology, we learned how to make data centers autonomously control themselves to use less energy,” he said. “That worked out well enough that we now have a product on the Google Cloud Platform for building energy management, which in general is able to work outside the world of just data centers, but for other clusters of buildings, too.”As we look to technology to help solve not only business problems, but societal problems as well, Andrew Moore and his team at Google Cloud are taking the steps necessary to make analytics, AI, and machine learning tools we can use. He’s approaching it from all angles, deploying his extensive knowledge in the space, and working with others for a better future.
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