Can your dev acceleration on cloud be sustainable?

Joseph Sibony
Joseph Sibony reading time: 4 minutes
June 8, 2023

It’s a moot point to talk about the rise of cloud. Today, most development happens on the cloud, whether fully or on a hybrid basis. A Pluralsight study in 2022 found that 75% of organizations are building new products on the cloud. The promise of cloud is clear – nearly unlimited capacity and on-demand scaling in seconds.  

But it’s easy to overlook that the “virtual” instances we’re spinning up need a physical equivalent somewhere, and this has a real and often significant carbon footprint. A study by Lancaster University found that cloud products are responsible for roughly 1.5% of all greenhouse emissions globally. It’s easy to ignore the real costs when deadlines are around the corner, and you need more compute power to clear a last-minute hurdle.   

This leads to an important dilemma. Pandora’s box is fully open by now, and we can’t stop using the cloud. But does that mean you can’t shoot for a more sustainable approach or do a little bit to both help your devs AND help reduce the carbon footprint? What if you could achieve this by simply planning and using the right tools?  

Acceleration and reducing core usage 

There are several ways you could reduce your cloud footprint, but for our purposes, let’s focus on two – using fewer instances or completing tasks faster to reduce total usage. Both, on their own, could produce some better results, but not without some downsides.  

Using fewer instances helps reduce the overall footprint, but it also means teams are often working for longer, or waiting for builds to complete. Working faster means your overall usage time goes down, but you’ll likely have to spin up a larger number of instances to get the job done, negating a lot of the gains. So, why not do both?  

Smarter acceleration with Incredibuild for Cloud 

The right tool can help you work faster and manage resources better, cutting down on build times while reducing cloud bills – and cloud footprints. With Incredibuild for Cloud, you get the best of both worlds.  

Our platform accelerates workloads on the cloud by breaking them down into smaller subtasks and parallelizing them across your existing instances. Additionally, Incredibuild uses smart auto-scaling and spot fleet orchestration to reduce your overall instance usage – removing those you don’t need once you’re finished – while keeping your footprint low.

Most importantly, Incredibuild also lets you complete development faster by cutting down build times and caching build outputs to further reduce future workloads. You can learn more about Incredibuild for Cloud here. For now, let’s take a look at some numbers to see how Incredibuild could help make your development on cloud more sustainable – and much faster.  

Reducing your cloud footprint 

Cloud data centers today are major energy consumers. A study by MIT found that a single data center can consume roughly the same amount of power as 50,000 houses annually, with nearly 12% of that consumption coming from active computational work. The other costs stem from the power needed to keep massive data centers running with more and more instances spinning up.  

So how can Incredibuild help? In a couple of ways, but to see the impact, we need to crunch some numbers.  

Let’s say you’re running a complex Unreal Engine (UE) 5 build for a critical part of your game (or movie). It’s a central plot point in your game, and it needs to be perfect, but it’s complex and currently taking you about two hours every time you need to run a fresh build.  

Right now, you have a single instance with 16 cores running, so let’s add a single extra helper instance, with 16 more cores. Using JUST Incredibuild, you can cut down your build down by almost a full hour (59 minutes, to be precise). Suddenly, you’ve narrowed your footprint for this dev task in half. And what if, on top of that, you add Incredibuild’s Build Cache? Now we’re talking speed and savings.  

Remember, Build Cache lets your dev teams reuse build outputs from previous sprints and cycles, leading to much shorter builds since there’s no need to start from scratch each time. Now, your builds are down from over two hours to just 16 minutes. If we drill down deeper, we can start to see some of the energy-saving potential. Our caching technology saves, on average, 75% in compute time. If we’re talking about the consumption of cloud resources and its translation into power usage, simply cutting down how much you’re contributing to idle machine uptime can have a net positive impact on savings AND sustainability.  

These savings come from removing redundant computations and reusing previous output artifacts. There’s no smoke and mirrors. You’re simply using less resources than you would normally. No extra cores, and only a single extra instance that you can spin down immediately once your workload is completed. Unsurprisingly, this also results in more sustainable development. Incredibuild’s auto-spin down shuts down idle machines when they’re not in use; you can reduce consumption of idle machines by nearly 77% 

The result? You’ve saved almost two hours of compute time, and even with an extra instance, you’ve used both for less time combined than if you were working on a single instance. That’s one and a half hours saved, and a much smaller footprint achieved.  

Building sustainable pipelines 

Obviously, this isn’t a miracle cure for sustainability and development, but it is a great helper.  

With everything we just discussed, Incredibuild reduces compute time by approximately 90%.  You can reduce your footprint on the cloud without sacrificing your developers’ productivity, time, and sanity, and still have time left over to iterate more and help save the environment, one build at a time.  

You can learn more about Incredibuild for Cloud here 

Joseph Sibony
Joseph Sibony reading time: 4 minutes minutes June 8, 2023
June 8, 2023

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