Sustainable CMS: Going green for your digital marketing strategy
Published May 25, 2023 by Jacob Spencer – Tech Lead
It is no longer a secret that operating data centres requires a significant amount of energy.
Over the past ten years there's been a steady increase in global data centre electricity usage, growing from about 1% in 2010, up to 3% today. By 2030 it's projected that consumption will rise to above 4%.
Despite rapid growth in demand for information services over the past decade, global data centre energy use likely rose by only 6% between 2010 and 2018 (Masanet et al. 2020), due in part to significant improvements in energy efficiency.
Even so, to offset consumption, almost 800 million trees would need to be planted.
This article aims to delve into strategies that reduce emissions and foster sustainable practices in the field of information technology (IT) such as green software languages, sustainable content management systems (CMS), and to raise awareness of sustainable coding techniques.
Green software languages
While some organisations prioritise website performance over environmental impact, many now seek to reduce carbon emissions. However, the software language and technology used are frequently overlooked factors.
A pioneering study (Pereira et al) investigated the energy use of up to 27 of the most popular programming languages, subsequently presenting their research at the International Conference on Software Language Engineering 2017.
These results were revised in 2021, keeping them more up to date with recent technological improvements. Based on this paper, and taking an overall average, here are the top and bottom performing languages.
The top green programming languages:
The bottom green programming languages:
For this study, each language was measured by energy consumption, performance, memory and combinations of each of these factors.
In software development there’s still a common belief that energy consumption reduces when programs run faster, however researchers from the Pereira et al. study state unequivocally that, 'a faster language is not always the most energy efficient.' And in today's world, it’s all about the balance of energy efficiency and speed.
Web & DXP
In the web domain, the majority of websites nowadays rely on a foundation or technology known as a content management system (CMS), which is developed using diverse programming languages. The purpose of a CMS platform is to empower website owners by providing them with the ability to produce exceptional content while retaining control over its management, publication, and promotion.
A DXP (Digital Experience Platform) is a comprehensive software solution that enables organisations to create, manage, and optimise digital experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints. It integrates various tools and technologies to deliver seamless customer experiences, personalised content, and efficient marketing strategies in a unified platform.
Some of the biggest and well-known CMS platforms and DXPs include:
In 2023, the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Digital Experience Platforms report named Optimizely as a market leader for the fourth year in a row.
An Optimizely or Umbraco CMS that uses C# will be more than 150% more energy efficient than systems running on WordPress and Magento, which utilise PHP.
That means for every 1 tree needed to balance out energy usage for a CMS from Optimizely and Umbraco, over 150 trees will need to be planted for WordPress.
A CMS system and agency that aligns with personal eco-friendly carbon neutral goals is an important choice for any upgrading organisation, but there are other considerations to be made, too.
It’s crucial when developing new CMS integrations to be energy efficient in green coding.
This means writing programming code that minimises the energy consumption of software to reduce the negative impact on the environment.
In addition, green coding practices encourage software developers to apply lean coding principles, where great emphasis is placed on minimal processing, to achieve similar results. In this context, choosing energy efficient languages that can significantly minimise energy consumption is crucial.
Some practices we implement at dotcentric are:
- Raise awareness of the green coding importance.
- Encourage our team to work more precisely to minimise lines of code.
- Support developers to green code through skills development.
- Make a sustainable strategy for all the team by giving flexibility in coding through the required resources.
Hosting a CMS platform on the cloud with a carbon aware company can also reduce the footprint of the system that is being built. Both Optimizely DXP and Umbraco use Microsoft cloud services to host their digital experiences. Microsoft “see sustainability and humanity's response to climate change as one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime."
The carbon benefits of cloud computing
A 2018 Microsoft study found that using the Azure cloud platform can be up to 93% more energy efficient and up to 98% more carbon efficient than on-premises solutions.
How can we help?
Whether you’re exploring your options for a digital transformation or aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of current systems, dotcentric can help. When starting work on new or existing projects, we can minimise emissions and promote sustainable IT by:
- Downsizing: We reduce the file size of images, text, or video by using media compression software. We also use image caching which can cut the file sizes in half, which promotes lower energy use, and achieves a better user experience.
- Caching: We use CDN caching and media caching to reduce the need to reload large files directly from the server.
- Reducing the lines of coding: Green coding helps reduce the lines of coding. It will not only help reduce emissions but also provide superior code quality.
- Migrating to the cloud: Cloud energy is more efficient in terms of easy scaling and cost-effectiveness.
- Using powerful and state-of-the-art IT: Legacy systems require more power. They can cause servers to generate large heat output, which requires additional cooling.
As organisations become more aware of their carbon footprint we predict that technology decisions will increasingly be influenced by the environmental impact.
At dotcentric, we are committed to more sustainable platforms such as Optimizely and Umbraco, the development of high-performance CMS applications using C# and we prioritise low latency for all digital products.
If you would like to learn more about green technologies, get in touch.