Thursday, May 26, 2022

Q&A: Google Cloud says sustainability efforts have gained momentum, making a difference outside the data center – Techgoondu

As the pandemic forced many people to rely on the digital economy to distribute food, watch movies and work remotely from home, the environmental costs of these daily transactions carried out at energy-consuming data centers are of late attention. I have come.

How much should hyperscale operators like Google Cloud have to do with organizations that rely more heavily on the cloud to run their businesses? Can they improve the way they crunch the data so that it impacts the environment less?

Sherry Ng, who joined Google Cloud as country director for Singapore and Malaysia last month, told TechGundoo that the mood has changed over the years in the Asia-Pacific, where organizations see sustainability as a strategic imperative. Looking at what should be measurable.

Google Cloud itself has launched a carbon-free goal by 2030 that includes initiatives in Singapore and Malaysia that, for example, in this month’s Q&A, she says, use solar power to help power data centers here.

Q: The goal of Google Cloud to be carbon free by 2030 is well known. Can you briefly highlight some of the efforts in Singapore and Malaysia that would contribute in that direction, please?

a: We want to be the first to dispel the common misconception that a net-zero IT strategy is the aspiration of the future. In fact, companies that have moved from on-premises data centers to the cloud have already made progress on reducing their carbon footprint.

Going a step further, the infrastructure and services provided by Google Cloud to enterprises including Singapore and Malaysia already have a net-zero carbon footprint.

Today we operate the industry’s cleanest cloud, as Google is the first major company to achieve carbon neutrality since 2007 and match our annual energy use with 100 percent renewable energy every year since 2017.

As our next and most ambitious goal yet, we aim to be fully operating on carbon-free energy 24/7 in all of our data centers, cloud areas and campuses around the world by 2030.

Achieving this goal means going beyond the net-zero model of “emissions and compensation” and instead targeting “absolute zero,” where we don’t emit carbon from our operations in the first place. Its solution is important not only to Google and our Google Cloud customers, but to fully converting the electric grid to carbon-free energy.

We focus on moving toward our goals along three parallel tracks: buying carbon-free energy, advancing new technologies, and advocating for better public policy.

In Singapore, we are working with Sembcorp on locally sourced clean energy to support our data center and cloud sector operations.

Our first renewable energy deal in Southeast Asia, it involves the purchase of surplus energy generated from 500 public housing flats with rooftop solar installations. The generated solar energy goes directly into the power supply of our operations, thanks to a unique three-party collaboration with both the power retailer (Sembcorp Power) and the solar developer (Sembcorp Solar).

Sustainability has been a core value for Google since our inception and we are committed to playing our part to help move the world closer to a carbon-free future for all. This is a preliminary step and we want to do more in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

Q: Do you think Southeast Asia or Asia-Pacific in general is moving fast enough when it comes to making data centers more efficient or carbon neutral or zero in the future?

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a: Every conversation I’ve had with clients’ boards of directors, CEOs and CTOs since joining Google Cloud has included sustainability as a strategic imperative.

The general consensus is that this is not a CSR program, but it requires measurement and board-level set KPIs – this alone is a significant movement from a few years ago when sustainability was barely on the corporate agenda.

Business leaders I’ve talked to acknowledge three things. First, climate change is no longer a distant threat – it is local and individual, and we need urgent and meaningful solutions to tackle this daunting challenge.

Second, offering sustainability practices is increasingly part of the loyalty of customers, partners and employees. Finally, we must work together to help those disproportionately affected by climate change, including underserved communities and our future generations.

In a region as diverse as Southeast Asia, with countries at various stages of development and maturity, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

This reaffirms our commitment to building custom tools that account for emissions in our cloud and beyond, whether it’s gaining visibility into the carbon footprint of a customer’s entire value chain or moving their data assets to the cloud. Measuring the environmental impact of

We bring our ecosystem partners together to create purpose-built industry solutions that address customers’ most relevant sustainability challenges. One example is a solution that lets retailers, manufacturers and other logistics-heavy companies create a digital twin by streamlining data from a variety of sources for a holistic view of their suppliers’ emissions and energy consumption, inventory — of their physical supply chain. a virtual representation. , and other information.

A global logistics provider has used such solutions from Google Cloud to optimize fleet routing and reduce its annual fuel consumption by approximately 38 million liters with US$400 million in cost savings.

Another example is JB Cocoa, a Malaysia-headquartered company that is one of the world’s leading cocoa ingredient producers.

JB is working with Google Cloud to help achieve cocoa supply chain transparency and ensure it has access to environmentally conscious consumers to produce finished goods such as cocoa butter, cocoa powder and cocoa mass. Its cocoa beans must be sourced and purchased from sustainable cocoa farms before they are made. ,

Q: Hyperscalars like Google can lead the way in terms of sustainability efforts. Also, how do you convince other stakeholders, such as your cloud customers, to be more efficient in their energy use, in optimizing resource use or accepting higher temperatures in data centers?

a: It’s not about us trying to steer our customers in a responsible direction. Many companies are already committed to sustainability and looking to help, so helping them make that transition is an innovation opportunity for Google Cloud.

With increasing requirements for ESG reporting, companies are looking for ways to show their progress against climate goals to employees, boards and customers. In collaboration with clients such as Atos, Etsy, HSBC, L’Oréal, and Salesforce, we have created a carbon footprint to allow a company to monitor its gross cloud emissions over time.

Available free of charge to every Google Cloud customer, this tool provides IT teams and developers with metrics that can help them reduce their carbon footprint. Our detailed calculation methodology is published so that auditors and reporting teams can verify that their cloud emissions data meet GHG protocol guidance.

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One of the low-hanging fruits in reducing gross emissions is the detection and removal of unattended projects. Last August, we used our Active Assist tool to analyze aggregate data for all customers on our platform and found that more than 600,000 kgCo2e was associated with projects it recommended for cleaning or improvement.

This prompted us to add a new Sustainability Impact category to our Active Assistant recommendation tool, expanding on the core core pillars of cost, performance, security, and manageability.

The recommender uses machine learning (ML) to identify abandoned projects based on API and networking activity, billing, cloud services usage, and other cues, with a high degree of confidence. By removing these projects, customers not only reduce carbon emissions, but can also reduce costs and reduce safety risks.

A Google-commissioned study by IDG shows that while 90 percent of IT departments already prioritize sustainability, building more sustainable applications and infrastructure isn’t easy. There are technical challenges and there is a perception that climate action is costly.

With every tool being made available to help companies measure and reduce their carbon footprint, Google Cloud is reducing the barriers they face in adopting more sustainable technology practices.

Q: Even AI, which often helps us make better use of resources, comes with a carbon footprint. How can we use AI to fuel future sustainability efforts without making the situation worse?

a: To make IT operations green, Google has designed highly efficient Tensor Processing Units – the AI ​​chips behind our advances in ML – and outfitted all of our data centers with high-performance servers.

Since 2014, we have been using ML to automatically optimize cooling in our data centers. Smart temperature and lighting controls are deployed to further reduce the energy use of our data centers.

Other examples of AI and ML include proactive adjuvants helping to reduce the carbon footprint of IT operations, as mentioned earlier, using carbon-intelligent computing and next-generation geothermal power.

Researchers have found that worldwide data center power consumption remained close to flat over the past decade, even as computing needs grew by 550 percent. Google has led the trend: We now provide nearly seven times more computing power than in 2016 with the same amount of electrical power.

Many customers are then faced with tough questions about how their business affects today’s natural environment, and how it will be affected by climate change in the future.

Over the past year, we’ve been working with a range of organizations to combine Google Earth Engine technology with tools like BigQuery and our Cloud AI platform to create innovative solutions for responsible commodity sourcing, sustainable land management and carbon emissions reduction. solutions can be developed.

Unilever, for example, is working with Google Cloud to leverage cloud computing, satellite imagery, and AI to create a more holistic view of forests, water cycles and biodiversity that are part of its supply chain. intersect with. It is raising sustainable sourcing standards for suppliers and bringing Unilever closer to its goal of ending deforestation and revitalizing nature.

Earth Engine enables companies to track, monitor and predict changes in the Earth’s surface from extreme weather events or human-caused activities, enabling customers to reduce operating costs, reduce and better manage risks and Helps to become more resilient to the threats of climate change.

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