The Greenest Cloud: Looking at Microsoft’s New Green Plan

Microsoft-Green-Plan-300x169 The Greenest Cloud: Looking at Microsoft’s New Green Plan

Microsoft’s Project Natick at the launch site in the city of Stromness. (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

With the material world being geared increasingly towards understanding climate change and carbon footprints, we often forget that the digital world contributes to fossil fuel emissions as well. Looking at the trends of today, we can predict that digital consumption will only increase over time, therefore adding to the carbon footprint of these companies. How are different cloud providers dealing with this issue? Let’s look at Microsoft. 

Microsoft, one of the Big Three cloud providers, has brought 2 plans to the climate change table: one to reduce the company’s carbon footprint to allow for a “greener” cloud, and the other to implement underwater data centers powered by renewable energy. Seems like a lot to process? Let’s break it down. 

Microsoft’s new “Green Plan” outlines how their data centres will run on 60% renewable energy by 2020. At the end of 2018, 50% of the company’s energy was renewable and carbon neutral. Wanting to cut their carbon emissions by 75% by the end of 2030, the company has implemented an internal “carbon tax” for business divisions. Taking tangible steps to reduce the effect of the buildings and resources used in the past, they are also redesigning their campuses into carbon neutral havens. Although Apple, Google, Amazon and the likes are all rapidly moving in the same direction, a great victory for companies of such large proportions, Microsoft will be the first company to reach a campus of zero-carbon and zero-waste goals.

What Does This Mean for the Future?

It doesn’t mean being satisfied with what they have done so far. Being at the forefront of technological innovation, one of the most remarkable stories of the digital age proves to be Microsoft’s “underwater data centers”.

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Image by Frank Betermin/Naval Group

 

In the testing stages now, these centers are quick to deploy, and could provide internet connectivity for many years to come. Imagine a 40 foot long data pod, sleekly dropped into the depths of the ocean off the Coast of Scotland. Seems like something out of your sci-fi novel dreams? We agree. Not only is the concept of this data center a force to be reckoned with, but the implementation of this idea could also allow for ways of delivering AI applications and gaming content to end users. Operating without maintenance for 5 years, the pod’s cooling system uses ocean water, sustainably managing itself. 

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, says “Since 50 percent of the world’s population lives close to water bodies, we think this is the way we want to think about future data center regions and expansion”. Data centers are now the backbone of the world. Rather than keeping them in tightly stored boxes lining facilities, Microsoft wants to integrate them into the natural world, and use this sustainable energy to help them get there. Using submarine technology and applying this research, Microsoft is tangibly changing the way that we look at storing data. The whole process of creating one of these underwater data centers took a total of 90 days as compared to the usual 2 years of production time. This would allow the company to react to demand without facing shortages. The Azure Cloud platform is becoming the computer of the world, and the world is Microsoft’s literal oyster.

 

Starting a Data Project

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It’s exciting to hear ‘Data is the new Oil’ or the ‘new Gold’ or the new ‘something valuable’. What I dread, though, is the day we hear ‘Data is the new fad and a complete waste of money’. I hope that day never comes!

A lot will depend on how businesses approach data projects. Right now, it could go either way. There are many organizations throwing money at data projects to ensure they are not left behind. There are many more who are not even getting started fearing the outcome or the futility of it. If you belong to either camp, I will share a simple process to maximize the return on your data projects.

Where Data Projects fail

Data projects are complex and resource intensive and hence have many failure points. Most failure points are like the failure points of any complex project. Data availability, data quality, team quality, team work, communication, and so on. There is one, though, which is unique to data projects and at the root of all failed projects. It’s what I call the ‘rabbit hole question’. If a data project begins with this, it is likely to fail.

The Rabbit Hole Question

This is the question I most often hear from companies wanting to start data projects. It is some variation of – ‘What can I do with my data?’. I agree that it is the most natural question to ask, however, not the question that is going to set you up for success. It is the dream question for the salesperson who can now engage the solution architects. Who will then build an exciting solution. A solution that is likely to cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. Worse, it may not yield any results. Why? because it’s the ‘rabbit hole question’.

This question propels everyone to start thinking about what all to do with the data. Or, where all to apply the algorithm or the tool. There are many possibilities and hence many potential projects. But there is no way to figure out what we will get at the  end of these projects. We will only discover it as we go along. And chances are we may not like what we see in the end, if we see anything at all.

Avoiding the Trap

So, how do we avoid the ‘rabbit hole question’? Where do we start and how do we proceed to maximize our chance of success? The answer is to flip the question – ask “What can my data do for me?”. Better still, use a top down approach of starting with your Business Objectives. The graphic on the right illustrates a more sensible approach to data projects.

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The key is to break down the process into two phases – Planning and Execution. Planning requires little time but a lot of thinking but is crucial for success.

It is important during planning to stop thinking about the data you have and what to do it. Instead, start with what the key objectives for your business. Next is to think about the Actions required to achieve those objectives. That leads us to thinking about the kind of decisions we need to take. Then we can ask the question – “What insights do I need to take these decisions?”. These required insights then lead us to the relevant data and findings.

In this process, we may find that we do not have some of the required data. We can then start collecting those. In the meantime, we can then switch to execution with the data we already have. We can use the data and findings to generate relevant insights. These insights then drive the appropriate decisions. These decisions then guide us with the required actions to achieve our objectives.

Data Strategy Workshop

In our experience, the knowledge required for Planning is available in the organization. It usually sits in different silos though. Also, we find that the key stakeholders are usually not aligned.

Hence, we recommend conducting a Data Strategy workshop. Such a workshop aligns all stakeholders around the business objectives. It then allows the group to connect the objectives all the way to the Data they have.

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The outcome of the Workshop is an aligned Data & AI Roadmap. We can then jump into execution with the least effort and cost. The initial success then builds confidence in the organization for further projects. It also frees up time of critical resources to contribute to these projects.

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Optimus has already conducted Data & AI workshops for various organizations with fantastic results. If you would like your organization to have a clearly defined, cost effective, Data & AI Roadmap, please contact us at rajeev.roy@optimusinfo.com 

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

Intern-Focus-300x143 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

Optimus Information offers an incredible internship program for software engineers unlike any other. Everybody at Optimus holds interns to the highest standard. There is no spoon-feeding or babysitting in the office. This 6-month program teaches interns the ins and outs of a variety of software and exposes them to experienced professionals. Along with technical skills, interns will build their soft skills through mentor-mentee interactions, team huddles, and extracurricular activities.

Since Optimus Information is a global company, applying for an intern position can be fairly intimidating. Those who want to learn from Optimus need to be motivated, resilient, and ambitious. The company seeks out individuals who are willing to increase their intellectual capital, eager to step into a self-led role, and ready to tackle all challenges that may come their way. 

From the perspective of current interns, we hope to share some insight on how to stand out and lay a strong foundation for an amazing, successful career with Optimus Information. Although we are not pursuing the usual software internship, we have the inside knowledge as HR interns. We have compiled a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” that will hopefully help those who are potentially looking to pursue a career with Optimus.

HR Interview

1-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternAlthough Optimus Information is a software company, your transcript, and coding knowledge are not the only fundamentals that will get you an offer letter. The perfect candidate for Optimus is someone who exerts confident energy and has a good understanding of social cues. During the first HR interview, your interviewer will be evaluating you on your personality and your demeanor. Based on how you present yourself and your communication skills, your interviewer will determine if you are the right fit for the company. If you can successfully impress your interviewer, you will proceed to the second round of interviews where you can demonstrate your technical abilities.

DO review your CV.

If you 2-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Internhave double-checked your CV, triple-check it. The way your CV is laid out will tell a lot about your character before the interviewer even meets you in person. Ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors and that everything on your CV is accurate and up to date. Your interviewer will ask questions based on what you have written on your CV. For example, if you added “skills in C++”, don’t be surprised when the interviewer asks you to discuss concepts and theories behind the language.

DO dress to impress.3-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

First impressions are the most important component of any interview. Show the interviewer that you want the position before you introduce yourself. An interviewer will respect those who put effort into the way that they present themselves. Let the interviewer know that you are a professional who cares.

DO respect your interviewer.9-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

Wait for your interviewer to ask you to grab a seat before sitting down. This minuscule detail will show the interviewer that you understand respect, as it is a huge component to succeeding in the corporate world. Be polite and confident.

DO speak in English.

4-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternAs Optimus is a global company (with its headquarters in Vancouver, Canada), you will be dealing with overseas clients. English will be the primary language that you will communicate. Prove to your interviewer that you can communicate well in English. Freshen up your grammar and sentence structures prior to your interview to ensure fluidity and accuracy in your speech.

DO NOT be too nervous.

Your interviewer is trying to learn more about you.5-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern They want you to sell yourself to them and demonstrate your incredible personality. Although it will feel intimidating, know that they are there to help you achieve your goals. Non-verbal communication can tell a lot about somebody’s character so keep a mental note on your body language. Listen to what the interviewer asks and answer it to the best of your ability. Avoid losing your train of thought due to your nerves. Be confident and proud of who you are. Show them what you are capable of.

Bonus: Congratulations! You passed the interview. Here are some tips to help you become and remain a successful Optimus intern.

The Optimus software internship is not a walk in the park. You will be working from 8 AM to 8 PM Monday to Saturday for 6-months. Be prepared to work hard and learn a lot. Since this is a challenging program, only the goal-oriented, ambitious-driven, and strong-minded individuals will be successful. Luckily for you, we have the tips to help you stay on top and remain optimistic.

DO communicate with your mentors and buddies.

6-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternYour mentors and buddies are there to help you transition from college life to corporate life. They are there to help you with professional and personal issues so do not be afraid to reach out. Most of the mentors and buddies at Optimus were past interns who have already experienced the Optimus internship. All you need to do is ask for advice and your buddies will definitely be there to help.

DO stay positive.7-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

If you ever feel stressed or overworked, just remember the end goal. Keep pushing forward and do your best. Know that you have your team of interns throughout the next 6 months who are experiencing the same ups and downs as you. Keep each other accountable and motivate each other to push on.

DO NOT rely solely on somebody else.8-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus Intern

One of the Optimus Values is to be self-led. You will learn to tackle challenges and obstacles on your own. It is okay to ask for help but do not rely on someone else to have the answers to all of your problems. Self-reliance will be a key learning takeaway from this internship.

DO NOT be afraid to take initiative.

10-300x300 The Ultimate Guide to an Optimus InternHaving an entrepreneurial spirit at Optimus is highly praised. If you find an opportunity, take it. Pitch your ideas to your mentors or supervisors and take initiative. Learn from others and implement these skills to your own work.

Optimus Information emphasizes on high intellectual capital. Many people may feel like the internship program pushes them to their limits but those who complete the program remain on top compared to their colleagues. Good luck to all future candidates.