The environmental cost of a bug: How testing is good for the planet

By

Monique Swanepoel

,

Content Specialist

2021-08-31

If we’re being honest, we don’t always think about the fact that things like surfing the internet, coding, online shopping, and everything else we do on our computer (like running Virtuoso!) have an impact on the environment. We’re working on software, right? It’s easy to forget that the hardware that software is built on has a huge carbon footprint. 

Did you know that every second someone browses a website, around 20 milligrams of C02 are generated? And browsing is one of the lightest activities that you can do on a device. When it comes to more complex tasks like running AI training models, the computational power required grows rapidly. Shifting to the mindset of a more sustainable future by no means excludes the technological sphere, and one of the most feasible long-term solutions is to focus on renewable energy. After all, energy is the single most essential resource that keeps our technology running.

So what exactly is renewable energy?

Renewable energy, also known as ‘clean energy’ refers to energy that isn’t derived from typical fossil fuel resources such as coal, gas, and oil. Renewable energy resources are inexhaustible and naturally replenished, with minimal impact on the environment. 

Some examples of renewable energy sources include:

  • Wind and solar energy
  • Hydroelectric power
  • Biomass energy
  • Geothermal energy
  • Nuclear energy

Now, that’s a whole topic on its own but it’s good to have some background information. For our discussion, the most important take-away here is that renewable energy is tightly coupled to the development and modernization of technology. Developments like smart grids, energy distribution networks, better connectivity, 24/7 system surveillance, and remote control over wind and solar farms are some good examples of clean energy initiatives that have been seen over the last few years. 

Why should companies embrace renewable energy?

By embracing clean energy, technology can be run continuously but without affecting the environment at the scale it does today. Here are just some of the benefits that follow when companies in the tech sector decide to ‘go green’:

  • Environmental impact: Reduced carbon footprint, no emissions, and less harmful air/water pollutants.
  • Economic advantage: The large scope of renewable energy makes it applicable for almost any area, including residential, commercial, and industrial use. Reduced energy imports paired with increased local energy production make energy more affordable and reliable, and many governments have policies in place to reward tax credits for solar and other renewable energy investments.
  • Long-term benefits: Shifting to renewable energy sources ensures better scalability, stability, and maintainability through less power supply interruptions, down times, and slow loading speeds/processing power.
  • Market advantage: As customers seek out companies that are committed to ‘green’ energy, it becomes a lucrative business advantage that makes you stand out above the rest.

What are the challenges to renewable energy sources?

Of course, switching to renewable energy is not a one-size-fits-all instant-magic solution - that would be too easy! Challenges include grid load balance issues, new systems that are increasingly complex, decentralized power generation units, continued low recyclability and short lifespans of hardware, and integration issues to name just a few. Initial investments into environmentally conscious infrastructure and storage systems can be costly, and a consistent high quality of power can be difficult to achieve and maintain. 

It can also be difficult to find places where renewable energy equipment can be placed, especially when factors such as existing infrastructure, land availability, and politics come into play. Many renewable energy sources are also dependent on factors such as weather and climate, which are less predictable and not suited to every region. 

How can testing help?

Many of these challenges have to do with systems and maintenance, and that’s one place where software can make a huge difference. Quality software is essential to developing, executing, and maintaining effective systems - and the best way to deliver quality software is by performing quality testing

Virtuoso provides a cost-effective way to ensure that systems built for renewable energy are functioning as intended. Our software automation platform uses the power of AI to eliminate critical issues as soon as they arise and build tests from requirements automatically. Virtuoso's intelligent AI also helps reduce system instability and ensures quality and uninterrupted system performance by ensuring that systems can be tested from start to finish - even from wireframes! 

Virtuoso promotes green practices by taking steps to reduce the need to test multiple times, enable scalability in the cloud, and deliver faster than ever execution times. That means less processing time, and more clean air. Serverless computing, virtual servers, and eliminating duplicate copies of data are also ways that Virtuoso embraces greener software testing. Whether you are dealing with performance and functional testing, monitoring applications, or handling data storage online, Virtuoso’s green thumb is at your service.

Green testing habits

In addition to taking on greener platforms like Virtuoso to test with minimal input while achieving maximum efficiency and quality, testers can adopt some practical day-to-day habits to ensure eco-friendly software testing:

Do you have any green testing habits to share? Join the conversation on Twitter!

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