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Sustainability with Altis Cloud

Machine, Motor, Engine

Posted by Ryan McCue

Product Director

Published in Product

As a hosting provider who needs to run computers to serve our customers, emissions of the web are important to us. With efforts like Sustainable Web Design and tools like Kanoppi and Website Carbon Calculator helping to bring visibility of web emissions to the forefront, it’s important that we all work to reduce and eliminate the carbon impact of the web.

We’re pleased to be able to share our latest data and estimates for pages served by Altis Cloud. It’s our hope that providing both our data and estimates will increase transparency and help to inspire the industry’s continued efforts in this area. 

Our direct infrastructure emissions

Altis Cloud is fully built on top of Amazon Web Services (AWS), and we use their services end-to-end to serve pages to users. AWS is actively working on sustainability efforts, including achieving carbon neutrality by 2025.

This includes a variety of regions powered by 100% renewable energy, including all of our European and American regions. Altis customers can select one of these green regions, with our prices the same across every region.

AWS also provides an estimate of our emissions through the Carbon Footprint Tool, based on the regions we operate from and our real-world usage.

For the latest 12 month period available, our total emissions provided by AWS were 8.5 tonnes of CO2 (equivalent). (Over 95% of our total emissions come from our Asia-Pacific regions which are sadly not yet green, and which generally have higher emissions per kilowatt-hour than other regions.)

This works out to about 0.005g per page view on Altis Cloud – about 5% of the maximum for an “A+” on Sustainable Web Design’s rating system.

Compared to on-premise solutions or hosted by legacy hosting providers who operate their own data centres, using the cloud can be up to five times more efficient. With our cloud-native architecture, Altis is able to provide these benefits to customers, plus more:

  • We invest into using the latest, most efficient hardware where possible, including Amazon’s Arm-based Graviton processors (more on this soon!). We upgrade customer infrastructure with minimal disruption and always as part of their existing subscription.
  • Our multi-server architecture means each part of our infrastructure is specialised for its task, resulting in less wasted hardware for servers that don’t need it. With hardware production emissions accounting for up to 20% of system emissions, eliminating wasted hardware helps to reduce the overall footprint.
  • Afterburner, our PHP extension, massively reduces internal traffic and bandwidth between our servers. Since it’s written in efficient, compiled Rust code, it also more efficiently uses the CPU and existing hardware – reducing time our servers spend idle.

Unlike some of our competitors, Altis Cloud’s pricing is based on page views, not on raw hardware costs or bandwidth. This means as a company we’re motivated to reduce hardware usage and bandwidth, not to try and sell you larger servers. We’re constantly working to improve our efficiency through investment into new technology.

Network and data emissions

As a platform, we work with customers and their sites, and integrate with the broader internet – much as no man is an island, no host emits in isolation. Sites hosted on Altis need to transmit data across the web for users.

While much of the actual data transmitted by sites is controlled by how they’re engineered and designed, Altis provides tools to optimize and improve sites automatically.

Tachyon, our built-in image optimization service, automatically selects the most efficient image format and size for any uploaded images, with no work necessary for developers. We automatically transcode images to more efficient formats like WebP, using efficient processing on the AWS Lambda platform.

Altis provides the CloudFront CDN as standard, reducing network emissions by serving content from data centres near our users. These emissions can be up to 14% of the overall system’s emissions, and reducing this means a lower impact and faster sites for users – win-win!

With our support for HTTP/2 and HTTP/3, modern TLS protocols, and compression algorithms like Brotli, we also minimize bandwidth and eliminate useless round-trips.

Estimated page view footprint

In order to calculate a total footprint for pages, we can combine our statistics for bandwidth we’ve served and known infrastructure emissions, with estimates for consumer device energy, network emissions, and production. This is based on the numbers published by Sustainable Web Design using a worst-case scenario with no renewable energy in network transmission. (We’re also using the lower bound for page views, which excludes a lot of bot traffic, while using the upper bound for bandwidth – basically, the most pessimistic view we can take.)

For the same 12 month period as above, we estimate an average of 0.17g per page view across all sites on Altis Cloud – meaning the average page view on Altis Cloud achieves an “A” on Sustainable Web Design’s rating system.

RatingHTTP Archive Transfer Size (kb)*Grams CO2 Per Pageview
A+272.51 (5%)0.095
A531.15 (10%)0.186
B975.85 (20%)0.341
C1410.39 (30%)0.493
D1875.01 (40%)0.656
E2419.56 (50%)0.846
F≥ 2419.57≥ 0.847
Source: Sustainable Web Design
* Percentile data for transfer size has been pulled from the June 1, 2023 crawl of the HTTP Archive. See this sheet for more information.

While we’re pleased that sites on Altis are able to achieve such a high score, we can’t stop here. Up to two-thirds of all emissions are attributed to bandwidth usage and data transmission, and helping our customers to reduce bandwidth usage is key to reducing these emissions.

Customers can head to the Altis Dashboard and view bandwidth usage for the past year on their environment’s metrics page for further insight into their usage.

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