Announcing sustainability guidance in the Azure Well-Architected Framework
Published Oct 12 2022 09:03 AM 20K Views

On October 12 we announced new technical guidance to help customers and partners achieve their sustainability goals using Azure – guidance to help you to plan your path forward, improve your sustainability posture, and create new business value while reducing your operational footprint. Read more below and to learn how this initiative was spearheaded by Microsoft employees, read the Green Tech Blog.


Workload guidance for sustainability


Increasingly, customers are asking questions related to sustainability and energy efficiency, such as: ‘Is our application efficient?’ ‘Are we utilizing the allocated resources fully, and are these optimized enough?’ By efficiency, the expectation might be energy efficiency, hardware efficiency, or efficient use of any other consumed resource. These questions highlight the growing importance of sustainability in cloud optimization, from reducing carbon emissions and energy utilization to refactoring for agility at a lower cost.  


As part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to promote sustainable development and low-carbon business practices globally, we’ve recently released sustainability guidance within the Azure Well-Architected Framework (WAF) designed to help you optimize cloud workloads for green IT.


This documentation set is part of a broader initiative to help customers navigate the steep learning curve around how to meet and plan for evolving sustainability requirements and regulations in relation to the development, deployment, and operations of IT capabilities.


Designed in close collaboration with customers and colleagues at the Green Software Foundation (GSF), these workload recommendations and guidance align directly with the GSF principles of green software.


Who benefits from this guidance?


The main audience for the Well-Architected Framework (WAF) sustainability guidance is architects, lead developers, and IT decision-makers. Understanding how and where you can reduce the carbon emissions and energy use of cloud workloads is key to meeting and planning for rapidly evolving sustainability requirements. In addition, this content can provide a foundation for broader enterprise adoption of sustainable design principles.


For our first iteration of the WAF sustainability guidance, we’ve focused on the design areas we previously mentioned and their underlying considerations. Microsoft will continuously update the guidance, and in future iterations, we will expand on the content, recommendations, and scope.


Understanding the shared responsibility model


Sustainability – just like security – is a shared responsibility between the cloud provider and the customer or partner designing and deploying applications on the platform.


We believe that with a well-defined responsibility model, it becomes easier to understand where you, the customer, can help drive positive climate impact, and what your cloud provider is doing to achieve the same. Learn more about the shared responsibility model for sustainability.


What is covered in this guidance?


In this first release of the guidance, we outline the design methodology and the design principles. Additionally, we cover a set of key design areas:


Design area


Application design

Cloud application patterns that allow for designing sustainable workloads.

Application platform

Choices around hosting environment, dependencies, frameworks, and libraries.


Strategies for CI/CD pipelines and automation, and how to deliver more sustainable software testing.

Operational procedures

Processes related to sustainable operations, measuring and tracking carbon impact, and committing to the climate with communities and knowledge sharing.

Networking and connectivity

Networking considerations that can help reduce traffic and amount of data transmitted to and from the application.


Design choices for making the data storage options more sustainable.


Relevant recommendations to design more efficient security solutions on Azure.

Fig 1. Each recommendation in these design areas maps directly to the green software principles of the Green Software Foundation.

We recommend customers familiarize themselves with these design areas, review the recommendations, and consider the consequences of encompassed decisions.


How should I get started?


Adopt this new guidance in your organization by sharing it with relevant teams. Additionally, the Operational Procedures design area is a great starting point for driving ideas around sustainability across the organization and your teams.


We encourage you to:

  1. Read the guidance: Azure Well-Architected Framework sustainability guidance
  2. Read more on the Green Tech Blog
  3. Share your questions and feedback, we’d love to hear from you


About the Author

Tobias Zimmergren is an Architecture Content Lead in the Cloud Architecture Content Team, bringing 20 years of experience in IT into his position at Microsoft. Tobias is a co-host of the popular Ctrl+Alt+Azure podcast, and before joining Microsoft, Tobias was a Microsoft MVP for 13 years. Feel free to reach out for a chat anytime!

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