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The software industry has a substantial environmental footprint: data centers alone account for about 1% of global electricity demand. “This is why software publishers must create sustainable products,” said Julia Cams, marketing manager at HubSpot France.
Great software solves problems. And to be great, software must be simple, useful and provide an enjoyable user experience. It turns out that when applications are running efficiently, it’s not only good for business, it’s also good for the planet.
The amount of electricity required to run a computer may seem negligible. And a website that loads slowly has latency, even more But, when a platform is used by hundreds of thousands of end users, every byte counts. An efficient website or application is one that optimizes performance, data transmission and server utilization at scale. Focusing on efficiency can reduce the carbon footprint while providing an exceptional product experience.
Improve front-end performance
The most valuable element of a web experience is speed. Speed is so important to the user experience that even small variations in performance can cause significant changes in user behavior. Google found that a half-second delay can result in a 20% drop in traffic, and Pinterest found that a 40% reduction in wait times increased registrations by 15%.
A publisher needs to provide its customers with a faster and more reliable product experience. Applications that run too slowly hinder customers’ ability to perform their tasks well It may then be relevant to introduce a service level agreement (SLA) on latency, which determines the speed at which pages are loaded across all applications. Defining what ‘fast’ means and how to monitor and measure performance can take time. Specific applications loaded on each page or for each client, such as the navigation bar, home dashboard, and login screen, require special attention.
Improving application performance has a net positive impact on end-user emissions by reducing energy consumption in offices and homes. When an application page loads in two seconds, the end user’s CPU cycles less often and returns to rest faster, which means less battery use for the same task.
Enable short data transmission
The speed at which data is sent from the server is important to the customer experience, but it also has a huge impact on emissions. In addition to consuming a lot of electricity, data centers account for 0.3% of global CO2 emissions. In recent years, the energy consumed by data centers has grown at a much lower rate than the activity performed in the data centers. This is mainly due to the move to the cloud. However, with demand for data center services rapidly increasing due to growth in Internet traffic, emerging technologies such as AI, and a shift toward hybrid workloads, it is imperative to consider ways to reduce energy consumption.
Hosting data closer to where customers are is energy efficient because information has to travel less distance, fewer servers touch that data and therefore promotes lower power consumption. It also improves latency and reliability, which contributes to a positive user experience. For businesses with globally spread customers, businesses can turn to a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN serves a website’s static content through its own network of servers around the world. So a customer in Australia can access an application from a local server if the content has to travel from the US or Europe to reach them. This means there is less network transmission overall, which is good for the environment.
Invest in good server usage
In addition to front-end performance and data hosting, server usage contributes significantly to product experience and carbon emissions.
For companies whose products consist of hundreds of thousands of services and programs, the use of a server for each system constitutes a huge energy cost. Adopting container technology can limit server usage and optimize CPU and memory usage. Container technologies precisely define the amount of computing resources that each back-end service should use and cluster more applications per machine, thereby making better use of the server. Thus, this results in less wastage of resources, lower operating costs and a reduced environmental footprint.
Tech leaders have a responsibility to understand and act on carbon footprints. By becoming more efficient, companies not only drive the systemic changes needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they also provide a pleasant user experience. Plus, they save money in the long run, which is a great way to motivate the entire company to take action.