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How the YellowDog Index Identifies the Carbon Footprint of Data Centres


In this video, we discuss how the YellowDog Index assigns an Eco Score to individual data centres, to enable businesses to identify the source of compute with the lowest carbon footprint.

What Is the YellowDog Index?

The YellowDog Index is the way we characterise the attributes available in the cloud market. We look at things like machine purpose, location, vCPU, RAM, price, and types of OS. In addition to these, we also assign our own metric called the ‘Eco Score’.

The Eco Score is the rating we apply to visualise the carbon impact of machines, based on the data centres they are located in.

How Do You Assign an Eco Score?

Each data centre is assigned a letter, which ranges from A, which is very, very good, to F, which is of course at the bottom of the list. By categorising the data centres in this way, users of the Index are able to visualise how a particular machine is powered, depending on its location.

We use two sources of information to understand the carbon impact of the data centres. Firstly, we learn from the cloud providers which data centres run on renewable power sources. If this information isn’t easily accessible, we then identify the geographical location where the data centres are and look at the general electricity power generation. From this we can determine what percentage of that generation is from renewable sources. All of this data is fed into the YellowDog Index to give the Eco Score.

What Is the Significance of Being Able to View the Sustainability of Data Centres?

It gives all users, from businesses to the public, the ability to look at other things beyond the pure price/performance of compute. I think what’s really important, given the amount of choice that’s out there, is knowing that you can look at data centres and say to yourself, “If I move my compute to here, I’m actually making a better choice for the environment.”

How Can Businesses Action the Information They Gather from the Index?

So, within the YellowDog Platform, we use what we call Best Source of Compute algorithms to generate a report that users can view to select the resources with the lowest carbon impact.

The way this works is, the users initially set their constraints and preferences for the compute they need. So, for example, a user could say “I want my compute from certain regions. It has to have a certain amount of vCPU,” or “Give me compute from the data centres with the best Eco Scores.”

Based on this information, the Best Source of Compute algorithms will work to select and rank the machines that make sense, given those particular preferences and constraints. So, in the context of the Eco Score, you can see which machines have a lower carbon impact and use them accordingly.

What is really key here is that this report is available to the user before they actually provision any compute. So, rather than looking back and evaluating the sustainability of the compute acquired, users can make those decisions beforehand.

Ultimately, all of this information comes from the YellowDog Index. By constantly scanning the cloud market, it enables users to make environmentally conscious decisions – proactively. Users have all of the information they need, in an easy to view report, so they can take greater control over their cloud usage.

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