AWS on its way to using 100% renewable energy for its enormous cloud network

LAS VEGAS — Amazon Web Services, Inc. has a long-term commitment to using 100% renewable energy to power its global cloud infrastructure. In fact, the company is now 40% of the way to its goal and hopes to be 45% by the end of 2016. By the end of 2017, it hopes to be half way to achieving it.

At this year’s AWS re:Invent conference, James Hamilton, AWS vice president and distinguished engineer, said in the opening keynote that the company plans to generate a total of 907 MegaWatts (MW) of power, through mostly a combination of solar and wind farm projects. The projects are expected to generate 2.6 million MWhr of renewable energy annually.

AWS wind and solar farm projects and timeline PHOTO: MELBA BERNAD

“We’re signing up for a challenge,” said Hamilton. “If you’re like me, the first question you ask is: ‘The wind is not always blowing, the sun is not always shining.'”

To address these concerns, Hamilton said the company will just generate enough power to cover for the contingencies.

Amazon currently has 14 cloud regions. Of the 14, Oregon is powered completely by renewable energy.

All regions have at least two availability zones (AZs) but the new regions are built with at least three to five AZs, according to Hamilton.

Each AZ has at least one data center; some have as many as eight. Most data centers are between 25- and 32-MegaWatt facilities, with between 50,000 and 80,000 servers; some AZs have more than 300,000 servers, said Hamilton.


All AZs have redundant network links. Hamilton also said that there are 68 points of presence for AWS around the world, all connected through an Amazon-owned, dedicated private network.

Within an AZ there are intra-AZ fiber connections within the data centers, inter-AZ fiber connections between data centers that make up the AZ and fiber connections between each of the data centers and one of two transit stations each AZ has that connect to the outside world. A typical AZ has 126 unique metro fiber spans.

“The company is deploying tens of thousands of servers every day, enough to power Amazon in 2005 when it was a $8.5 billion enterprise,” said Hamilton.


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