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 Five considerations for more sustainable databases

When we think of sustainability, our IT systems is not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet digitalization also has an impact on the environment. In this blog, Cindy Beernink, database consultant at OptimaData, talks about what choices you can think about if you want to move more sustainably through database land.begeven.

Cindy Beernink

DBA Consultant en Database Reliability Engineer
Cindy Beernink - DBA Consultant en Database Reliability Engineer

Sustainability as a mindset

Sustainability is a mindset. At home, we turn down the heating a little, at the office we turn off the lights when we leave the building, and we are increasingly getting into an electric car or on our bikes. But when it comes to databases, there is also a lot to gain. Whether it’s your existing environment or if you’re about to switch to a new database server, there are always certain trade-offs you can make.

Unfortunately, there is no database usage calculator – yet – that tells you how many kilowatt-hours you’ll save with which measure, but sober thinking will get you a long way.

1.    Choose green energy

Do you have an on-premise environment? Then take a critical look at what energy you purchase and from whom. Some suppliers produce their power ‘greener’ than others, buy their power ‘greener’ or invest more in future green production. There are even green energy suppliers that supply almost only clean power, generated by windmills and solar panels.

The Consumers’ Association did research on this. You can also generate green power yourself, of course. Having problems with your energy company about feeding it back to the grid? Then consider a smart battery solution. And while you can green an on-premises environment by choosing a green energy provider, you can also consider switching to a data center for its more efficient use of resources. As always, there are multiple roads that lead to Rome.

2.    Choose a sustainable cloud provider

Cloud vendors also come in many colors and flavors when it comes to sustainability. For example, I was surprised to discover that Microsoft has very ambitious plans. The company promises to be carbon-negative by 2030, but the software giant goes further. By 2050, Microsoft will have removed from the environment all the carbon it has emitted since its founding in 1975, either directly or through electricity consumption.

Google also has grand ambitions when it comes to sustainability. According to GoClimate, a social company that fights climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Google and Microsoft are 100 percent green. AWS, on the other hand – despite their good plans – does not currently use green energy for all its data centers.

Even among the smaller cloud providers are sustainable solutions. Upcloud, for example, also uses 100 percent renewable energy. Transparency can be an important reason for wanting to choose a smaller cloud provider.

3. Reduce your own cloud footprint

Google as well as AWS and Microsoft have developed reporting tools that give you insight into the environmental impact of your IT environment. To measure this impact, they use the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, an international standard for accounting and reporting on corporate greenhouse gas emissions. By understanding your own cloud footprint, you can make more data-driven decisions about your cloud usage.

4. Clean up your databases

A well-organized database is crucial to any IT solution. But a well-organized database also helps you become more sustainable. Sometimes underlying files are not removed when you delete a database from an SQL Server instance, and then you have orphaned database files, files that are no longer linked to an attached database.

These “floating files” may be using up unnecessary space. It may also happen that transaction log files are not emptied cleanly or old backup files are still floating around somewhere. All space that could be used for other applications.

5. Check the performance

Finally, take a look at your memory usage and database performance. Of course you can keep expanding your resources, but it might be a better option to take a critical look at how well your environment is performing. With our HealthCheck, we map the configuration of digital components and their interrelationships. This not only lets you know whether your database is as fit and healthy as you think it is, but also how sustainable it is.

It starts with awareness

Ultimately, as with so many things in life, sustainability is also about awareness. Some business owners are intrinsically motivated to be more sustainable, but the financial aspect can also be a trigger. If you choose a cloud solution, you pay for what you use. That often triggers critical thinking: for example, you can make a lot of gains with database performance tuning. Literally, but also when it comes to your carbon footprint. A win-win situation, what more could you want?

Want to know more?

Want advice on how to make less impact with your database environment? Want to know more about our Health Check or do you want to choose a DBaaS solution, but don’t know what the best choice is yet? Feel free to contact us without obligation!