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How to Run Sustainable IT and Measure Your Carbon Footprint

We’ll explore the issue of wasted cloud spend and the challenges enterprises face in managing their resources effectively. We’ll provide estimates on the percentage of cloud spend that is wasted and the percentage of enterprises that need help in optimising their cloud spend. Sustainability in IT is a pressing concern, and we’ll discuss the importance of building a culture that resonates throughout cloud journeys and ensures the correct utilisation of resources. Additionally, we’ll delve into the technology industry’s significant increase in electricity consumption and the growing focus on sustainability. Stay tuned to discover practical approaches to automation, FinOps, and sustainable cloud storage, as well as the challenges and solutions associated with building a culture of sustainability.

In one of our recent webinars, the host Prabhat Handoo engages in a conversation with Graham Zabel, our Head of DevOps, to discuss how to run sustainable IT and measure your carbon footprint.

Why is Sustainability Important?

Over the past couple of years, technology providers such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have extensively discussed sustainability. We increasingly believe that certain actions are necessary. Recently we held a carbon conference in Egypt a couple of weeks ago, highlighting the significant emphasis on reducing global carbon emissions. It is imperative that we take action in this regard. The fundamental driving force behind this is the need to report on our carbon emissions more extensively. Consequently, companies will have to disclose their emissions, and the market will criticise those with high emissions. If a company produces substantial carbon emissions, many consumers will choose not to use their products.

Unlocking the Power of Automation: Key Initiatives for Organisations Embarking on the Cloud Journey

A significant portion of it is achieved through automation, which is why I emphasise the implementation of automatic guard rails. To illustrate this, let’s consider the example of cleaning your loft or attic. We tend to store various boxes in our attics, and when we move houses, we take the opportunity to declutter and discard unnecessary items. However, this cleanup only happens during a move. If we don’t move, all those items continue to accumulate in the loft. Therefore, we must discover a method for performing regular automated cleanups. Without this, the unnecessary items we accumulate and no longer need will continue to occupy space because we are not moving or engaging in the manual cleanup process. Hence, it is crucial to establish a system for regular automated cleanups.

Unlocking the Power of FinOps: Key Initiatives for Optimizing Financial Operations

The FinOps team has been working extensively with a prominent financial organisation based in London, conducting significant work on FinOps. FinOps is a crucial term in today’s world, although it represents a macro and high-level concept.

FinOps generally serves as a good indicator for carbon emissions; spending less money on it usually results in lower carbon emissions. While it may not always hold true, it generally serves as a reliable proxy. Therefore, by utilising FinOps to reduce our costs, we achieve the additional benefit of decreasing our carbon footprint. FinOps is an excellent tool that enables us, at a macro level, to power down systems during evenings and weekends, optimise the usage of CPU chips by selecting the most cost-efficient and carbon-efficient options, and appropriately scale our databases, among other things. In summary, FinOps offers a valuable approach to saving both money and carbon emissions.FinOps informs you about the cost-effectiveness of your storage, which you likely already know, but it does not address the issue of waste management, which is a crucial aspect. Sustainable cloud storage plays a vital role in reducing carbon emissions.

The Evolution of Storage Affordability: Unraveling the Paradox and Exploring its Implications

So, what FinOps cannot do is, determine whether we truly need these running applications, data storage, and infrastructure. Storage has become affordable, as many have discussed, especially with the transition to cloud computing facilitated by hyperscale cloud providers. This ease of storage has led to the accumulation of data in data centers. However, it’s worth noting that data centers accounted for 3.6% of all carbon emissions last year, and this growth is expected to accelerate. In contrast, other industries, such as transportation, have been successful in reducing their emissions. Consequently, the carbon footprint of data centers will become a larger proportion of our overall carbon emissions. This emphasises that while storage may be inexpensive in monetary terms, it is not so in terms of carbon impact. It becomes challenging when considering the storage of photos, for instance. On a daily basis, we capture numerous photos, yet only a small percentage of them hold real significance to us. Nonetheless, we store all of them because there is no discouragement or cost associated with doing so. This results in the accumulation of unnecessary data.

In the virtual world, it is much more challenging to visualise or picture waste when it is intangible, unlike physical waste in rubbish bins. If your rubbish bins keep expanding and piling up behind your building or house, eventually, you will take notice and acknowledge the need to address the situation. However, when it comes to virtual content that continues to accumulate and generate waste, it remains invisible; no one sees it, and therefore, we tend not to think about it and it all comes back to the concept of demonstrating it initially, which is instrumental in cultivating good behaviour. As mentioned in the FinOps foundation, the Prius effect highlights the importance of creating a culture of responsible conduct within the organisation. We observe significant concerns related to sustainability and an increasing demand for sustainable practices.

Exploring the Challenges of Automation and Organizational Concerns

Automation in the DevOps world is a fascinating aspect. We strive to automate various tasks, including software building, deployment, and testing. This transformation has significantly shortened the time required for these processes. In the past, manual testing could take days or even weeks, whereas now, it can be completed within minutes. Similarly, the efficiency of building and deploying software has greatly improved. However, alongside the benefits of automation, there are unintended consequences to consider. Processes that once took a considerable amount of time to test or deploy now occur in a matter of minutes. As a result, these activities are performed more frequently, leading to a substantial increase in the volume of log files, output files, and artifacts generated by automation tools. The scale of this output far surpasses what was observed during manual processes. Consequently, we find ourselves dealing with exponential growth in the size of log files and artifacts, measuring in megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes. Without proper data retention and cleanup policies, this accumulation continues to expand exponentially. It is essential to address these hidden and potentially detrimental consequences of automation.

Addressing Data Deletion Concerns: Importance of Robust Archiving and Retention Policies

So much of that relies on labelling and tagging, implementing effective strategies for how you label and tag data. This enables you to distinguish between important and non-essential information while also facilitating cost attribution. Consequently, you gain clarity on who should bear the responsibility of paying for the storage of this data over the next 20 years. It is necessary for someone to cover the storage costs, considering both the carbon impact and financial aspects. Thus, labelling and tagging play a crucial role in this process.

Driving Sustainability Initiatives: Devoteam’s Offerings and Commitment to a Greener Future

We definitely see an urgency in Devoteam’s offerings in the market to act on this. Most customers I speak with express a desire for Consulting Partners like us to guide them in embarking on this journey. Many clients lack clarity on their own practices. At Devoteam, we have two offerings. The first is the ESG working backward methodology, where we ask customers and their teams questions about their ESG goals and work collaboratively towards them. The second offering pertains to Devoteam in Denmark, which has made significant strides in sustainability as an offering. This includes focusing on carbon footprint tracking and emissions for various customers. We are also introducing initiatives such as green Ops, where our colleagues have excelled. If you would like to learn more about these initiatives, please feel free to reach out. We also have demo environments available to showcase to customers. This topic is incredibly important and close to my heart. It goes beyond just the present and proper IT practices; it also shapes the future. It is crucial for the well-being of future generations.

Beyond carbon footprint, how to reach operations in IT decarbonization management?