AWS Training and Certification Blog

How VMware partnered with AWS to nurture a culture of sustainability

At Amazon Web Service (AWS), we’re on a path to power our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025—five years ahead of our original target of 2030, as part of our commitment to reach net-zero carbon. To reach this target, we want 100% of the electricity we use to be attributable to renewable energy sources.

We’re also helping our customers reach their sustainability goals by helping them optimize their workloads. We built the Sustainability pillar of the AWS Well-Architected Framework to provide design principles, operational guidance, best-practices, potential trade-offs, and improvement plans you can use to meet sustainability targets for your AWS workloads. The sustainability pillar focuses on environmental sustainability and is used by those in technology roles, such as chief technology officers (CTOs), architects, developers, and operations team members.

AWS also provides training and certification on sustainability tools and best practices for our builder community. In this blog, we’ll spotlight our work with VMware to help them build a culture of sustainable software development practices, in particular working jointly to help the VMware Tanzu CloudHealth research and development team. Through training initiatives, foundational cultural adaptations, and AWS Well-Architected Framework guidance on their sustainable development and production workloads, we’ve helped Tanzu CloudHealth incorporate sustainable practices in their software development lifecycle. Their journey presents an example of how AWS, with partners like VMware, can help customers incorporate a culture of sustainability into engineering practices and product development.

Sustainability at VMware

Sustainability has been core to VMware’s business for more than two decades—from meeting the carbon-avoidance needs of their customers with their pioneering virtualization solutions, to protecting the long-term health of their business, employees, and communities. They have been a Carbon Neutral-certified company since 2018 with operations powered by 100% renewable energy since 2019. Now VMware is engineering new, sustainable multi-cloud solutions—decarbonizing the digital infrastructures of tomorrow along the path to net-zero emissions by 2030.

Helping enhance VMware’s sustainability culture

VMware and AWS have long been close business partners, and starting in 2022, we extended this partnership to drive sustainable software development within VMware’s engineering community. We’ve hosted numerous educational initiatives, architected reviews, and sustainability working sessions. This effort built upon the foundation VMware had already laid by providing the AWS Well architected framework for sustainability and insights into sustainability best practices to help them execute on executive goals.

“We are thrilled to expand our partnership with AWS, especially for such an important endeavor as establishing recommendations and best practices for sustainable infrastructure and application development,” said Purnima Padmanabhan, SVP and GM of Modern Applications and Cloud Management at VMware.

We started by running multiple education sessions to help VMware engineering teams understand how to drive sustainable software development into their work process. These sessions included teaching software development practices that help reduce a workloads carbon foot print and to apply sustainability as a non-functional requirement when designing the architecture for a workload. These sessions also helped teams understand that designing an architecture that adheres to the AWS Well-Architected Framework’s Sustainability pillar is a discipline that requires ongoing commitment to cultural and process changes, including doing away with inefficient technologies and programming languages in favor of new efficient tooling.

Next, at VMware’s suggestion, we worked to align the AWS Well-Architected Framework’s Sustainability pillar and VMware’s carbon measurement tooling, to provide customers with specific actions they can take to drive carbon reduction. A natural starting point was VMware’s Tanzu CloudHealth product, built on AWS, providing spend visibility, optimization, and governance for thousands of AWS customers. Tanzu CloudHealth is a FinOps, or Cloud Financial Management (CFM) platform providing multi-cloud visibility, optimization, and governance capabilities for managing public cloud spend, including detailed cost analysis, rightsizing recommendations, budgeting and alerts, reserved instance management, and policy-based controls. It supports public clouds like AWS, Azure, GCP, and OCI, as well as private cloud deployments, using machine learning to continuously analyze usage patterns and spending to identify savings opportunities.

Next, AWS Sustainability Solutions Architects and VMware Tanzu CloudHealth Principal Software Engineers reviewed the entire architecture and identified recommendations utilizing the AWS Sustainability pillar. The team then refined this list down to the most significant opportunities and worked with product management to assess the impact and complexity of each recommendation. This important step allowed VMware staff to evaluate and prioritize the recommended changes by impact and size of investment. The results were three quick wins: 1/ migrate their Amazon EC2 instances to Graviton, 2/ migrate Amazon EC2 gp2 EBS volumes to gp3, and 3/ purge unneeded data from Amazon S3. Tanzu CloudHealth engineering teams quickly implemented these recommendations and seven other opportunities that were prioritized on their roadmap.

In this section we calculate, using VMware Tanzu CloudHealth Green Score, the estimated carbon reduction. This is an example of the progress toward a workload more sustainable workload, using VMware Tanzu CloudHeath Green Score. In Figure 1, you can see that moving their Amazon EC2 workloads to AWS EC2 Graviton is projected reduce their CPU carbon by 64%.

In Figure 2, by utilizing Amazon EBS gp3 volumes, instead of Amazon EBS gp2 volumes, VMware Tanzu CloudHealth is estimated to realize a reduction of 0.2286 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (MTCO2e).

Finally, Figure 3 shows that by purging unneeded data from their Amazon S3 fleet, they also yielded an immediate 0.0311 MTCO2e reduction in the overall carbon footprint.

Figure 1: AWS EC2 Graviton Adoption Carbon Reduction

Figure 2: Carbon Reduction for Gp3 over Gp2

Figure 3: S3 Carbon Reduction

The last thing we did was work with Tanzu CloudHealth R&D to include carbon consumption as a non-functional requirement for all future features, baking carbon consumption into the go-forward process. Making sustainability a part of the engineering culture means incorporating it into the software development lifecycle. These non-functional requirements can focus on sustainability goals, architecture and design reviews to analyze sustainability tradeoffs, and monitoring/metrics to track emissions and resource utilization. VMware also found that providing incentives and gamification related to sustainability goals can further drive cultural adoption. Their recognition programs for teams or individuals who create the most sustainable designs encourage innovation and friendly competition. Finally, we’ve found that sustainability concerns must have representation and advocacy in decision making boards and committees in the company to establish a culture of sustainability. Together these steps of leadership commitment, education, process integration, incentives, and representation have allowed sustainability to become a cultural pillar across the organization.

The Tanzu CloudHealth GreenOps Dashboard: Sustainability Quantified

Currently, Tanzu CloudHealth is working on a beta feature called “GreenOps Dashboard” that provides users an overview of the sustainability of their cloud infrastructure. VMware has worked to align the features of the “GreenOps Dashboard” to the AWS Well-Architected Framework. Customers will be able to leverage the AWS Well-Architected process-based methodology to identify important architectural changes they can make to reduce their carbon footprint, and use the “GreenOps Dashboard” telemetry-based toolkit to provide actionable steps to improve the sustainability of the workload’s architecture.

To optimize the environmental sustainability of cloud solutions, the “GreenOps Dashboard” allows you to measure sustainability and energy efficiency across the six core pillars of operational excellence, security, reliability, performance, cost, and sustainability. By tracking metrics like server utilization, idle resources, encryption overhead, resilient architecture energy use, rightsized compute and storage, and carbon emissions of resources, organizations can identify opportunities to increase automation, choose more efficient options, balance reliability needs with energy usage, optimize sizing and elasticity, and prioritize sustainable services. Weighting can be assigned to each metric based on its overall “greenness”. The weighted average provides a green score to benchmark and compare improvements over time against industry standards. Following this approach enables organizations to maximize efficiency, minimize environmental impact, and improve the sustainability of their cloud solutions. The goal is to optimize architecture to be energy efficient and sustainable.


Corporate sustainability has become increasingly important as our customers focus on creating long-term value for their consumers, shareholders, employees, and society. Delivering on this sustainability agenda will require building a more environmentally-conscious supply chain as well as crafting a sustainable engineering culture. AWS and VMware are committed to helping our customers achieve their sustainability goals through green transformation innovations and fostering a cultural shift that accompanies increased skilling in sustainability practices.

Are you ready to take the next step towards sustainable development? We hope so! A great place to start is with our free AWS Skill Builder class, Sustainability Transformation with AWS.