Ep#76 AWS Sustainability with Tech Leader Margaret O’Toole

July 20, 2022

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About the Guest

Margaret O'Toole

Tech Leader in Environmental Sustainability

Episode Summary

Environmental Sustainability is a key focus, not only for AWS but for Partners within the AWS Community.

We are talking about the Carbon Footprint Calculator, the new AWS Well-Architected Sustainability Pillar, and more.

 

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

Host: Jon

Joining me today is Margaret OTO tech leader of environmental sustainability. Please join me in welcoming Margaret to the show. Margaret, thank you so much for joining me all my personal podcast. <laugh>

Guest: Margaret

Hey, Jon, it's so good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Host: Jon

Yeah. First of all, I love your personality. I mean, it just brings it to the show and you are laughing at, I didn't make any jokes yet, but you are laughing and enjoying yourself. I love it. This is gonna be a great conversation.

Guest: Margaret

I'm glad you like this personality. It's the only one I have.

Host: Jon

<laugh> good. Don't change it. Whatever you do. <laugh> uh, I enjoy so much always chatting with you, the recording we did for another event and now on my podcast, and that's why I reached out to you to join us. And I was like, everybody is going to love it. They're gonna engage. They're gonna stick around and know what we're talking about next. This is cool.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. Super cool to be here.

Host: Jon

All right. So Margaret, I gotta jump into a couple of questions. And in fact, the first question is today we're talking about environment and sustainability, but you come from a traditional tech background. How about we give everybody a little bit of backstory on yourself and what does that mean?

Guest: Margaret

Yeah, so, um, I studied computer science and biology when I went to school and I, I think I was always more just interested in like systems and just happened to fall into those two particular topics. Um, but after school I went to, I would say a traditional tech job. Um, I worked in technical support, so I was really doing, I mean, it was for AWS, which is where I still work. Um, but really trying to work with customers on, you know, they're trying to achieve X outcome, they're having Y technical problem and helping them solve it. Um, which is again, really just looking at systems and how they work together and trying to figure out how to make them work together and the way that people actually wanted them to. Um, and I worked there for a couple of years before I decided to move to a solutions architecture role, which is as you know, really about taking a look at all of the building blocks that AWS has.

Guest: Margaret

And how do you put them together in the best possible way under what configurations? Um, but I'd always had a, kind of a background interest in sustainability, like growing up, we did a lot of things that were kind of really connecting us back to nature. And although I had spent a lot of time studying computer science and synthetic systems and how these different machines could talk to each other and how and why. Um, I was always interested in comparing this against how natural systems work, which is, I think, where the biology thing came from. So as I was in a solutions architectural, I was trying to figure out, you know, with this kind of passion, how do I align this to my job? And what does that look like? And how does that come together? So, um, I decided to run an experiment actually kind of like surprisingly happened.

Guest: Margaret

So I was in a, like a lunch and learn type of session. And I met this guy and we started just kind of like riffing about different ways that we could support customers with sustainability and kind of given our backgrounds. And his was really like corporate sustainability. And then mine being technical. We started to figure out like we didn't really have all the data. We wanted to figure out what we needed to do for customers. And so in typical Amazonian style, we just ran some experiments with some very gracious customers <laugh> um, and that ended up being a really smart decision because at the end of that, we were able to create new jobs, basically like new ways that we were gonna interact with customers on sustainability. And so then that was what led me to become a sustainability focused solutions architect. And then obviously now things have progressed. We're now we have a huge community of people who focus on just customer facing sustainability initiatives in a variety of different capacities.

Host: Jon

When you say you have a huge community support and sustainability, can you tell me like, you know how that is? Like, who's, who's in that, uh, community, and I know you have like some Amazon and, and ambassadors around it. I know we had a number when we did this before, but has that grown since then? I'm curious.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. So I think one important part about how this whole works is we have obviously like corporate sustainability that's working on. So Amazon has this pledge to mean net or have net zero carbon by 2040. And that applies to AWS as well as Amazon. We have teams, many, many people working on just that, how do we meet our goals? And then the, the part of the group that I'm working on is how do we help customers meet their goals? Um, and this number is in the hundreds, let's say, so it's definitely growing. And I think what's really been exciting is to see, you know, it started out with an essay and a business development team, and now it's SAS and Tams and business development and developer advocates and customer success managers. And all of these different roles are trying to figure out how do they with their unique skills and background, best support their customers with their unique challenges. So I think the diversity of the team has grown just as much as the volume of humans, which has been, I think equally is exciting to see.

Host: Jon

So this is pretty cool that you started out in true Amazon and fashion as a builder. You, you, you just run with an idea. So I, I love that about AWS is that if you have an idea and you're already doing something else, but you wanna run with it on the side, and then all of a sudden it turns into something huge. It turns into a role, it turns into an initiative, let's talk about sustainability. What is it? I mean, for companies that really like, okay, I mean, hearing this buzzword, buzzword, sustainability, what is it? And should I get involved? Or how can I help?

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. So I think in an academic sense, just to like put it in layman's terms, sustainability is three things. So it's environment, which is what you mostly hear about economic and social components. And within this, it's the idea that the system can sustain itself, that it can continue in perpetuity as it is. And we've thought a lot as a human society, since the industrial revolution about economic, about generating profit and turning it back into other things. And, but sustainability is really supposed to meant. It's meant to take a holistic look at the prob problem and think, okay, so we have, you know, people who need to afford to eat, and those people should have jobs that allow them to earn wages fairly for labor that they're being compensated for so that they are able to live an equitable life. It's also social people should be able to have social opportunity, access to healthcare, access to the right kinds of resources, legal systems, and that kind of thing.

Guest: Margaret

And then obviously the environmental component, when we think about how we use natural resources and how we interact with them, that should be done in a way that doesn't impede the next generation's ability to leverage those resources for their own needs. And that's really the idea of making sure that you're not over-indexing on any one of these pillars and making sure that the system as a whole can continue to sustain itself. Um, but I think we tend to fall into the trap of thinking that sustainability is like just plastics or like just renewable energy. And it's difficult because it's such a broad topic, but it actually does require you to think about all these different resources, humans and, uh, financial systems and how they play off of each other in order to essentially like continue,

Host: Jon

Okay, you have just educated me on the other two components. I always thought about it as the environment and you know, being sustainable. But so you're, you're looking at it from a people perspective as well. You know, I, I love the, what you talked about right in the beginning where you were saying that, you know, people need to get paid, they need to get, you know, they need to eat, they need to live a comfortable life and you put all these components together. I always thought, and every time I hear about it, it's the environment, just the environment. And, you know, obviously the plastics and everything and you're using and the efficiency. So you're looking at it at a, you know, and now I don't wanna say holistic view everything all together and how these components can work together. So I, I hate to use the word sustain, you know, but sustain <laugh>.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. I mean, the word has a

Host: Jon

Read, have

Guest: Margaret

Another word. Yeah, I know, but

Host: Jon

You have another word you use instead of sustain, because I need to put that into my vocabulary.

Guest: Margaret

Usually I just try to be really specific. If we're talking renewable energy, we're talking renewable energy. If we're talking carbon emissions, we're talking carbon emissions. Um, I focus on environmental sustainability and actually there's a reason my title is very specific on this because social sustainability, financial sustainability, these are their own topics which have like hugely diverse, like skills that you need and knowledge that's required. And this framework of having these three pillars ultimately comes back to something created by the UN. And so they have the sustainable development goals and all of these goals are feeding into each other to make sure that we are all driving towards an equitable society in terms of environmental, social, and economic opportunities. Um, but you'll find that people tend to specialize because they're so nuanced, right? So really understanding the nuance of human rights and supply chain is a very different skillset and a different approach than it would be to understand, uh, demand shaping for renewable energy in a grid system.

Host: Jon

So going along with your current role, what are some of the things that you're doing or seeing, and how are you helping not only customers or partners or where's your main focus?

Guest: Margaret

So my team works in two main areas. So we talk about, okay, you know, you're using technology, how do we use technology the most sustainable way? And then this breaks off into two different groups. One is obviously us as AWS. We have a responsibility to make sure that we're running the most sustainable infrastructure. And then there's also a responsibility from the customer's perspective that if they're going to use it services, how can they do that in a way that they're reducing their environmental impact on top of whatever we've done. And then on the other hand, we are trying to find ways that you can use the cloud services that we offer to support a broader sustainability strategy. A lot of corporate sustainability teams or sustainability organizations are based still in using really Excel heavy processes. And so we're trying to find ways that we can leverage more automation or better technologies to essentially accelerate some of these things so that we can give those people back time to focus on the real challenges, right? The real challenge isn't necessarily making sure that your data input is correct. The real challenge is being able to use that information to come to a decision about something or to derive a specific outcome.

Host: Jon

How do you know from a customer perspective, or even from an AWS perspective that you are helping that customer achieve a sustainable goal? I mean, I, it's one thing to say, I wanna be sustainable and then I wanna architect for sustainability, but the architecture that you might do or they might do, or their, their entire goal, how do you know you're achieving that or on the right track now for a quick interruption, a huge shout out to our Veeam for sponsoring this episode, Veeam backup for AWS can easily protect all of your Amazon EC two RDS and VPC data. Wait a second. They can protect my VPC data too. Yep. That's right. Simplify AWS backup in recovery while ensuring security and compliance. All right. Now back to our episode.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. I think one really important point that we have is, and this comes back to what I was saying before about natural versus synthetic systems. When we talk about environmental sustainability, a lot of the times, there's not like a static quantity, right? We're not talking about cost. Like that's a human construct. We've made up the idea of money and cost. And so when you're talking about measuring things like carbon emissions, it's not the same type of mental model. So obviously we wanna ensure that we're creating the most

Guest: Margaret

Real outcomes as possible. So if we're working with a customer on something like optimizing an architecture, we can use tools like the customer carbon footprint tool to determine, did this make sense? Um, we also have the well architected pillar, which has a set of best practices, which we know that will help customers make better design decisions. I mean, the best practices defined. There are things that would essentially increase your efficiency and decrease the resource consumption that you have, which would then decrease your energy consumption. And then when we're working with customers on solutions that are more, um, let's say broader sustainability strategy focused, we're really looking to see what their goals are, right. I mean, if they have a goal around, um, measuring the coral loss in Australia, that's a pretty tangible thing we can say, okay, well, you've been able to measure X times more of that reef than you did before. So now we have a better sense of the actual reality of that, that space. Um, or if we're working with a customer on, let's say tracking carbon through their supply chain, they did not have clarity and now they have clarity. So now they can use that information to hypothesize about ways to reduce their footprint or to experiment about different suppliers or different processes, um, or just report with more assurance that what they're doing is inclusive of their actual impact.

Host: Jon

AWS just released a carbon footprint calculator. And how is that helping customers? And the second part of that question is how is it helping like folks like yourself with customers and understanding how their environment is, you know, designed or architected?

Guest: Margaret

So the customer carbon footprint tool was announced at reinvent and we officially launched it in March. And essentially what it does is it tells customers what are the emissions attributable to what you did in AWS in that specific account. Um, and we have some breakouts that give you a little bit more information besides just the number. Um, I think what it's done at the most basic sense is to help customers understand what's happening, right. I mean, until there's a number there it's difficult to really conceptualize the impact, especially with cloud, like it's over here somewhere else, you don't touch it. So it's difficult. I think for the layman to really understand that there is a real resource somewhere and it does have some environmental impact. So I think the biggest outcome has been the boost in awareness and the way that that's helped teams understand their relative emissions.

Guest: Margaret

Um, I think there's also something to be said for how the tool works in terms of like, it gives you a month over month graph, so you can kind of see what changes are happening over time. And that way you can also say, okay, well we had a big launch and we, you know, doubled our infrastructure in November ahead of the holiday season. And then we scaled it back down and, you know, you can kind of measure and see what that impact was over time, which I think is also a really useful outcome. And then for us, obviously working with customers on this, we can measure progress over time as well. Right? So, um, we worked with Starbucks last year. Um, they were actually on stage with us, every invent and they had been a beta tester of this, and we've been working with them in various capacities over the last couple last year, really, um, to find different optimizations and to be able to validate their experience has been, I think, a really critical part of, of driving the next round of success.

Host: Jon

Okay. The next time I go to Starbucks, I will realize when I get my caramel macchiato, that they were part of this initiative and then I can feel better that they're doing their efforts around it. So I, the next time I travel and I get one <laugh>

Guest: Margaret

We actually, so we had the drew Engles from Starbucks on stage at reinvent. Um, but we also recently wrote up a blog about the session with a little bit of an update as well. So that's something you can, you can check out,

Host: Jon

You know what folks I'm gonna put a link in the description below, uh, to the blog post that you can check out, cuz I'll be the first person reading it right after this recording, <laugh> talking about customers and their sustainability. Do you think there is a shift in the conscious effort of not only me as a buyer going to a customer or going to a business and saying, Hey, listen, they are, they have sustainability efforts, right. Uh, do I purchase from them versus another company who doesn't look like they have a sustainability effort? Do you think that's actually a shift happening now?

Guest: Margaret

Yes. I think it's a little complicated though. I mean, so I'm based in Denmark. I live in Europe. Um, and I think it, there's definitely like a regional element to this. Um, as a general trend, we see things happening a bit quicker in the EU and then kind of trickling down through other parts of the world in terms of consumer awareness around the different impacts that a supplier may or may not have. Um, but I mean, there's been pretty significant research that has indicated that consumers will pay attention to the way that a company illustrates their sustainability credentials and how that influences different purchasing power. Um, there's also been different research by groups like IDC that have really kind of taken into account. The fact that customers are very much so paying attention to how their supply chain values sustainability relative to how they value different criteria.

Guest: Margaret

Um, what I think has been really interesting is that, you know, even over just the past few years, the, the way that this conversation goes has been different. Right. And I think initially it was really around renewable energy. Oh, do you have a public statement? Yes. Or no, check a box. And now it's become a lot more deep. Like the, it's not a surface level when we have these conversations with customers, they really wanna know more about our roadmap and why we're making certain decisions because that's also how they're viewing it. Right. As people mature, they have a better understanding of these concepts and they're allowing that to drive them forward and also to kind of work with their suppliers in a different way, which I think has been really great. I mean, so as part of our overall sustainability strategy, we co-founded the climate pledge in 2019 with global optimism. And this was a public commitment, obviously for Amazon and all signatories to reach net zero carbon by 2040. And the inherent intent in this was for it to be collaborative, right? Because it doesn't really matter if Amazon reaches net zero, uh, carbon by 2040 we're one company. We need everyone to do it and we need everyone to work together on this. And so the idea of trying to, as we all mature move together in the same direction has been kind of a foundational shift that we've seen more and more over the last few years,

Host: Jon

I've seen more and more, uh, marketing type videos or promotion videos for products that not only they'll what they do as they start out and they show from start to finish. So the unfinished product, the role materials and how they actually come into the facility, how they get transferred, how it gets processed and all done. And then at the end, it's actually about maybe like a pair of jeans or maybe a shoes. And it's what it's doing is it's really telling people, listen, this is how we're handling that. And when people used to not actually not care how the product got made, they just wanted the product. And at the cheapest, you know, possible point where now, if you look at how everything's being transferred, how everything's coming in, and then you're holding that Starbucks, you can realize that they made a conscious effort to make this, you know, go forward with not only the environment, but sustainability and how it is helping everybody.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah, I think, I mean, not to get like too philosophical here, but

Host: Jon

You've,

Guest: Margaret

As we've from preindustrial revolution to now, we've gotten as individuals like further and further away from the natural systems that back our reality, right? Like it's like a cool thing to do to grow your own food. Now that was like a basis of society for most of humanity. And it's been really interesting to see the transition back into trying to understand how things become things essentially like we've become really detached as you know, kind of citizens of the modern world from the realities of making clothes and growing food and transporting things from one place to another. So I'm super interested to see how this kind of consciousness develops in the future and what it means for like how we interact with each other and how we interact with suppliers.

Host: Jon

And so ironic that you said on how food is is growing, because my son actually came to us the other day and he is like, I wanna have a garden next year. All right, let's do it. You gotta learn it. Let's let's, let's figure it out. So, I mean, I used to growing, you know, my parents, my grandparents always grew have a garden. My in-laws have one, but we've gone away from that. And then now it's that curiosity of going back and how the whole entire process is going and it's, you actually appreciated a lot more. And, and through that whole entire process on how much effort it takes to actually grow that one item.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. It's so we have our first, not our first garden, but like our first real garden before we lived in an apartment. So we were like growing potatoes on our shelf, which is, uh, surprisingly not a huge yield, but now we have a big garden in the backyard and it's crazy how much space you really need to, to be able to sustain your own household. I mean, we're two humans in the house and we were like, oh, we have so much space. We're gonna grow like all the food we need for the summer. And this has not, not been realized. <laugh>. I mean, we have like an, a surplus of some things. Like we have so many zucchini, but like not nearly enough beans. So we have to like completely rethink how we're gonna play on this for next year.

Host: Jon

Uh, I know some IOT devices you might be able to use for that to understand. <laugh>, <laugh>,

Guest: Margaret

That's a good point. Yeah. Your garden is not very smart.

Host: Jon

Uh, that's a, you know what, sorry to get on topic for, but I love the aspect of the kids' learning and then the education that it is on how much it takes and effort, not only from a farmer perspective, like, oh my God, look at our huge field over there. Yeah. Not only do like two families, you know, and you, you just realize that how much it takes. It's like two, three months to grow that. And you're done in like, you know, a couple days or a week. And it's like, all right, you need to plan long term for it. And you know, not use too much land, but use just enough for what you're needed.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. We were looking into what it would be like to really be self sustaining as a household. And I think we would, we estimated that we would need something like 10 acres, which is we think about sustainability and going back to the kind of the three points, there is not enough land for every family to have 10 acres, not enough airable land, at least. So how are we supposed? Like, obviously it, we can't support the population with the old tech, like we need the technology we have in order to support the tech, the humans that are around. Now, we have to find a way to rethink some of these industrial processes so that they're supporting the current population without jeopardizing the future of the next set of population, which is creating, I think a really interesting tension as we think about things like hydroponic gardens or vertical farming, and also how urban spaces will be used in the future

Host: Jon

Vertical gardening. I've seen some of that. That's actually, uh, an interesting concept on how it's working. And I love watching some of the videos, uh, in our last conversation, you talked about a couple and I'll share everybody in the description below because they're very informative and it's very unique on how they're using some of it. So Margaret, let me jump over to the sustainability pillar reinvent. We talked about it. It was announced. And in April it was released, correct?

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. Mar March 31st. I think it went live in the tool.

Host: Jon

Okay. I was off by one day. Darn <laugh> all

Guest: Margaret

Right. I'll let it slide.

Host: Jon

Yeah. Thanks. Why the sustainability pillar, why did AWS add that? By the way, I actually wrote a blog post back when Jeff bar released, hit, uh, all four of them in 2015, and now we're up to six.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. So the sustainability pillar, I mean, the reason we launch it as a pillar, not a lens is because it should be an equal nonfunctional requirement. It should be part of a design decision, like equally as important as security, as performance as cost and all of the other pillars. And the whole idea was it needs to, we need to help educate builders on the fact that obviously any resource has an impact and you have a responsibility to decrease an impact as much as possible, just like how we as a us have a responsibility on this. Um, and so as we were thinking about best ways to articulate these best practices and the ways that we wanted to kind of coach teams on how to incorporate sustainability into their, their build process. But while architected player was like a natural fit to this, right? I mean, this is supposed to be the definitive set of best practices that we know are tried and true.

Guest: Margaret

So this fit right in there and, um, launching the pillar was, I mean, it was really cool, right? Cuz now it's official. Like we also all agree that this is an essential part of building an application that will most likely deliver on what you're trying to make sure that it does. So, um, it's been also really exciting to work with customers as they've been onboarding onto it and trying to see how teams adopt this information and how they are factoring it into design decisions. Because obviously when you have six pillars, there's going to be trade offs. And so each team is not necessarily going to optimize every workload for sustainability. It might need to be that they have to have almost no latency. Like if you're doing autonomous driving, you're probably not gonna adjust your Atlas. It's just like not the workload for that. But for other workloads, you know, there's some really interesting discussions around relaxing in SLA in order to reduce the resource intensity of the workload, but they can still deliver their customers' expectations and trying to find a healthy balance between all six of the pillars and all of the best practices to arrive at the conclusion that makes the most sense for that customer.

Host: Jon

When I see that the sustainability was released or talked about, I was like, okay, well this is, this is natural. Everything that I'm hearing. And in fact, in the last, a couple months before the release, I was like, wow. AWS is like right up there. One step ahead that this is perfect. Customers are asking for this, they're looking for this. This is what they're hearing. What are you hearing from customers now? O obviously I was a customer at the time. I still work with a lot of customers and partners, but what are you hearing from an AWS perspective? The moment was released or talked about publicly? Were they like, oh my God, this makes a, makes total sense.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. I think customers were, I don't know how many people were surprised that we did this because we had released several blogs in advance of reinvent about various ways you could optimize your workload to reduce its impact. Um, so I don't think people were necessarily shocked that we had done this. Um, but I think customers were really interested to sink their teeth into it or they wanna see it's a, it's a new space, right? Like how do you figure out what you're supposed to do here? It's, it's difficult to really get started. So, um, in, you know, reviewing the white paper with customers and going through the tool, once it launched with customers, it was really interesting to see what kind of baseline questions customers had and what kinds of ways do we need to, you know, evaluate the pillar for the next, you know, revamp when we get to that point, like, what is it going to look like when we iterate again? Are we gonna be more prescriptive? Are we going to give more steps on going from zero to 60? Like how do we shape this document as a, as a living document, as all the pillars are to align to customers, as they mature through the process of accepting, this is one of the, the six pillars,

Host: Jon

Have you thought of, or have customers come up with additional type questions? Like, wait, have you thought of this? Are you, are, are you already taking a, a list of things to kind of evaluate for the next revision and be like, that's that's right. We need to add this. I mean, are there some new things that you're talking to them about and be like, that makes total sense. And by the way, you don't have to release anything that you can't trust me. I know <laugh>

Guest: Margaret

Um, yeah, I think there's a lot of things we're trying to, we're trying to balance against being, uh, general enough that you can apply to every workload, but holistic enough that it applies to most cases. Yep. So I think as we come up with new inputs from customers, they may not go in the pillar, but rather the lens or that sits most appropriately. So I think all of the content around, you know, well architected will, will continue to iterate as we get more feedback from customers. And right now I think it's, we're really in an educational phase for both sides, right? Us figuring out what's really working or not working with customers and customers also adopting and changing feedback based on how they see the pillar implemented in their workload.

Host: Jon

Nice. Mario, what advice would you give companies that are looking to make a conscious sustainability effort that want to get involved and start doing it, but have no clue how to get started?

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. And you and I had talked about this a little bit last time, but I really think people underestimate the importance of training. I mean, you don't hire a finance team who has done like no education, no experience on accounting that just doesn't make any sense

Host: Jon

And not unless you wanna get audited.

Guest: Margaret

Well, I mean, you can do these things. Maybe it's not the wisest decision and that's not to say that someone can't transition careers, like obviously I did, but I think there's something to be said about being willing to make the investment in people who are really knowledgeable on these topics, right? Sustainability is complicated. You're dealing with natural systems. It's not the most straightforward topic. And so being able to define tangible, real realistic goals that make sense for your organization and align to what science tells us, that's a difficult task and you should make sure that you're actually supporting the people that you're going to, to make responsible for those topics. And I think also figuring out who, who are your partners in this? Right. Like I said before, it doesn't really matter. If one company meets their target, we all need to meet their targets. So who in your, your world, if your supply chain, your partner ecosystem is going to be supporting you in this, and maybe it's the people directly next to your, in the supply chain, right? People who are like immediately on either side, maybe it's going to be someone who's in your field like a competitor. It doesn't really matter, but it's something that you need to identify early on and to establish what kinds of partnerships are going to make sense to ensure mutual success,

Host: Jon

Mutual success. And I know you mentioned competitor and I'm gonna say, you know, I I'm right there with you is that there's no competitor in sustainability, correct? I mean, everybody's trying to achieve a goal where you can actually talk to your competitor. Like how are you achieving this part of it? Because we wanna make a, an effort towards it.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah, exactly. I mean, there's an inherent collaborative nature in the topic and that can't be ignored

Host: Jon

Now as some of the customers that you deal with and partners, maybe what would you give? What advice would you give them that they wanna help others do sustainability. They wanna help others make that effort and that, uh, you know, kind of drive towards it. Now training is definitely key, but, uh, is it something that you can say, all right, I have all the training people do, but what type of conversations can you have that can take that first step forward?

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. I think one consistent challenge is making sure that you're investing time in the right place. And so spend the time upfront to really get a sense of what's happening, right? I mean, if you look at your organization and you decide that you're gonna start working with team X, because you already know them, that might not have been the most strategic decision, right? If your goal is to reduce environmental impact, you should go where there is the most environmental impact and work directly with that team. Obviously that is a prerequisite step or there is a prerequisite step, which is figure out where your hot spots are, right. Figure out who is doing what and to what extent and how, but once you've been able to do that and figure out kind of what the relative impacts are, be strategic about picking the areas. You're going to invest time in the worst thing that you could do would be to hire these people, train them up, get them educated, get them excited and empowered, to make decisions, and then send them to the part of the company where organization, where their efforts are going to have little to no impact on the overall holistic impact.

Guest: Margaret

So think really critically about where you want to invest your time. And then's

Host: Jon

No, go ahead. No, go ahead. Nope. Nope. All you

Guest: Margaret

<laugh>. And then for the other teams, obviously they have a role to play as well, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you should ignore them because they're not the hot spot, but rather find ways to make it self-service for those other teams, find ways for them to educate themselves and to make informed decisions and report back. Instead of being the sole focus of the sustainability organization, project or initiative,

Host: Jon

Uh, data collection, and also, uh, mentioning that, take these people. If you do all this extra work, you know, train them up, they're already they're hyped. They go, and then you send 'em off to the other part of the company where yeah. They have little to no impact. And the morale goes down because their entire efforts to go and do it elsewhere are just gonna be diminished. There's not gonna be a lot of returns. The part where you mentioned about, uh, having the most impact, that's usually the most challenging part because it's gonna be the, either more complex in some areas, but the efforts are gonna be well worth it.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. I mean, this isn't to say that you should do this because it's the easiest option. But again, if we look at the goal and the goal is produce your environmental impact and you just look at this in a vacuum. Yep. Usually the, the, the parts of the business that are the most impactful in the environment become pretty clear. And then, you know, there's also a, a, a point to this, which is around building a business case internally to support these people and these teams, right? How does success on an environmental sustainability criteria relate back to the continued success of the organization or business, and trying to understand the relationship between the two, I think is also a really critical piece. Although a lot of mindsets have changed around the importance of sustainability and why we, you need to act, um, you know, there's still business realities in being able to contextualize your problem for multiple audiences is only going to ensure the success of the initiative.

Host: Jon

I, I, I agree. So Margaret, I'm gonna wrap things up here in a second and ask you a couple questions with, I'm gonna say I'm an AWS partner. What type of resources does AWS have for me to help my customers be sustainable? Like, uh, I don't know anything about sustainability. How can AWS help me achieve the long term goal?

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. So for partners and for customers alike, obviously all of the well architected resources exist, we also have a website that's AWS, amazon.com/sustainability, where you can see a range of resources, our reports, our case studies, and these kinds of other outlets. And we do also have a partner team who are working on various ways to support our partners. Um, so I would suggest if you are a partner, contact your PDM.

Host: Jon

Nice. And then you said customers alike can go there and, you know, research and look up sustainability goals. The well architected tool would, is in your AWS account. Is there for you to utilize and evaluate those workloads else? You can find a partner or work directly with AWS.

Guest: Margaret

Yep. And the customer carbon footprint tool is also in your AWS console.

Host: Jon

Okay. So let's talk about the carbon F pool real quick, uh, to utilize this tool. Is it quick? Is it easy? I mean, how much work and effort and it evaluates my historical data as well, but is it something I just gotta enable or enabled by default,

Guest: Margaret

You just need to go to the cost and usage reports in your console and scroll down and you will find the dashboard there. Um, the data is reported on a per account basis. So as long as you have access in the correct IM permissions, you should be able to see this information. And it's also free to use.

Host: Jon

Oh, forgot to mention. It is free to use, which is great because it's a tool that you can use to evaluate your environments. And now this does it for your account. Does it do it for all of your, uh, the regions available within AWS or is it centered or can you isolate it to a specific region and evaluate it? Cuz I'm assuming the data does get granular.

Guest: Margaret

So right now the tool is providing all of the data that's available for all of the AWS usage in that account, regardless of where it is or what service you used. Um, breakouts are at a high geographic level. So Amer uh, AMEA and an APJ, um, and then service breakdowns right now are E C two S3 and then kind of other category at the moment. Um, the customer carbon footprint tool is really exciting launch for us, but we also have a lot of things that we're working on to continue to improve the tool.

Host: Jon

Oh, oh, come on. You just dropped that right in there. Is there anything you can talk about some as it's exciting things or are we gonna have to wait to reinvent or

Guest: Margaret

Like with anything else, AWS, we are constantly listening to what our customers need and using that to inform our roadmap. And that's all I can say.

Host: Jon

<laugh> I love that. Don't worry. I, I will not put anybody on the spot in a bad spot, but <laugh>, that is a nice Amazonian answer. <laugh>

Guest: Margaret

<laugh> yeah. I mean, I think, uh, we wanna hear what people want is what I would say. So if there are things that you think should be improved, we would love to hear it. And yeah, we would, uh, obviously factor that into how we plan to move forward with the service.

Host: Jon

I plus won that. <laugh>

Guest: Margaret

<laugh>

Host: Jon

Sorry. That's uh, Amazonian turned, uh, just, uh, figured I'd add it in there for my, um, you know, so Margaret, before I wrap things up, actually, how does somebody provide you with feedback? What's the process?

Guest: Margaret

Yeah. So, um, obviously through the various channels, so you can always tell someone in support, if you have a support plan, you can tell your account manager. Um, we obviously patrol the AWS social accounts. So our subreddit, our Twitter accounts, these kinds of things, but, um, basically any Amazonian would be happy to hear what you think and feel. But probably if you have an account manager, this is the best person to talk to

Host: Jon

And you can always comment down below and I'll pass it on to some Amazon. Don't worry about it. <laugh> I know plenty of them that I'll share this information. Like Margaret don't worry. Uh, so I try not to bugger too often. All right, Margaret, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it. This has been a fun and informative conversation and I hope you enjoyed it as well.

Guest: Margaret

Yeah, I really did. Thanks for having me again.

Host: Jon

Yeah, no problem. Everybody. Margaret or tool tech leader of environmental sustainability. Thank you for joining on your host, Jon Myer. Don't forget to hit that, like subscribe and notify, because guess why folks we're outta here.

 

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