New AI-powered tool identifies potentially idle projects on Google Cloud Platform so they can be shut down

Google has added new tools to its features designed to give users more control over the carbon emissions generated when using Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

The new measures announced today include an AI-powered tool that flags up potentially idle projects on GCP, so that their owners can remove them in order to reduce costs and emissions. If all GCP users were to delete idle projects, Google estimates there would be a total saving of 600,000 kg CO2e, or the equivalent of planting almost 10,000 trees.

The Unattended Project Recommender is part of a suite of products collectively known as Active Assist which are designed to help users reduce costs, increase performance, improve security and increase sustainability, according to the tech giant.

Like the other recommenders in the suite, it provides alerts based on data collected over a previous – configurable – time period. It also allows users to see the daily CO2 emissions attributed to a given project. A project will be recommended for deletion if it has seen low usage for 30 days and no authorisation tokens issued for 180 days, Google said.

The Unattended Project Recommender joins the Region Picker application in a collection of services called Carbon Sense. The Region Picker app was updated last year to allow users to shift their workloads to GCP regions using a high proportion of renewable power.

Another service that’s packaged under the Carbon Sense umbrella is ‘Carbon Footprint’, a reporting tool currently in its beta phase that allows users to track, query and analyse individual projects’ carbon emissions.

Cloud providers are under increasing pressure to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and to help their customers do the same. Data centres currently produce around two per cent of global carbon emissions, with that figure continuing to rise.

Google itself, meanwhile, claims to have matched the energy used by its data centres with 100 per cent renewable energy since 2017, and has said it is committed to running all operations carbon-free by 2030.

However, a recent report by NewClimate Institute in collaboration with Carbon Market Watch found that, like many of the other large companies studied, the tech giant relies heavily on creative reporting to support its claims. Google’s claimed carbon neutrality does not cover its Scope 3 (supply chain) emissions, which represent about 60 per cent of the company’s greenhouse gas output, the report said.

A version of this article originally appeared on BusinessGreen’s sister site Computing.

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