In many industry segments, carbon neutrality is becoming an important attribute for consumers wishing to choose more sustainable products and services. Have you ever thought of the explosion of ICT products, tools and services in our daily lives and how it impacts our carbon footprint? It is needless to say that the consumption of ICT services & products is continuously increasing and so is the carbon footprint of ICT. Let’s dig deeper into how the DevOps ecosystem can steer us towards not only green ICT applications but also support global mitigation efforts towards reducing negative impact.
In this blog, we will explore the DevOps ecosystem, key components for ICT services and products through which we can assess and optimize the carbon footprint and lastly how to certify green ICT services & products.
Chiara Venturini, director of the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, a Brussels-based industry association, estimated that the IT industry currently abates 1.5 times its own carbon footprint, and that could go up to almost 10 times by 2030. It reflects that we must put more focus on green ICT strategy. We do not have to reinvent the wheel, we have some research and literature on this topic. Let’s start by revisiting the 4 major pillars of green ICTs contribution (Andreopoulou, 2012)
- Energy sustainability through reduction of energy consumption/carbon footprint while production and usage of ICT leads towards a low carbon economy
- Climate change mitigation with extensive environmental monitoring, DSSs for simulating future environmental scenarios for sustainable environmental governance.
- Increase environmental awareness with information diffusion, training & environmental education
- Effective communication in environmental projects & networks
How do these major pillars connect with DevOps? Have you thought of cloud services as surplus, do you know how much carbon footprint it generates for the e-services & e-products?
DevOps can enable organizations to green ICT products and services, some of the key components would be enabling dynamic provisioning for infrastructure to take a green approach. Another way to look at it is multi-tenancy, producing software with reuse of infrastructure in mind. Optimizing data footprint can be another dimension to look at. We will explore more ideas through this blog as there might be many more possibilities. We will dig deeper into the impact, and the action we take from a DevOps perspective to move the needle in the next section.
Enabling a green ICT ecosystem through DevOps
The outlook for green ICT services is still at the inception stages, however we can highlight some of the potential areas for research and aligning actions.
1.Public vs Private Cloud footprint
The energy demands for ICT data centers, especially cloud providers are accelerating, according to many reports, some of these data centers use as much energy sufficient to light up a country. We would have to baseline these figures, let’s start with looking at CSP reports from these public cloud vendors.
- According to Microsoft’s report on the carbon benefits of cloud computing,, “Microsoft cloud is between 22 and 93% more energy efficient than traditional enterprise data centers. When taking into account our renewable energy purchases, the Microsoft cloud is between 72 and 98% more carbon-efficient.” Note: the larger the deployment, the lesser the benefit.
- AWS meanwhile advocates that “running business applications on AWS, rather than on-premises enterprise datacenters in Europe, could reduce associated energy usage by nearly 80% and carbon emissions by up to 96% for many businesses when AWS purchases 100% of its energy from renewable sources.”
- Google states that its data centers are “2x more efficient than a typical enterprise data center.”
The Carbon footprint of public vs Private Cloud, it is a difficult question at hand with limited ESG guidelines & standardized metrics to answer if your private cloud would be more green than public or vice-versa, but definitely, we can look into the possible options to optimize and align to green initiatives
So how would DevOps come to the rescue to optimize the footprint? Some idea to build upon is power saving by moving from always-on application to power off mode, saving can be up to 10%- 15%. Autoscaling is another feature that can be a possibility and prepare the applications for low and high traffic hours based on usage patterns. If your application resides on a hyper-mix of old servers/technology which is hard to auto–provision or auto-scale, try moving out and modernizing the footprint. Optimal Edge computing is another way to balance the overall consumption for bandwidth-intensive features.
Putting DataOps in perspective for green e-ecosystem
Have you ever thought of the carbon footprint while you post your vacation photos on social media? An outlook on data traffic over the internet, the growth is exponential from approximately a terabyte in1980’s to more than a zettabyte in the 2020’s. If we try to map the energy needs for the future with the data-driven explosion, we could see a correlation. Optimizing data might be the ultimate way to prevent energy use from going into hyperdrive. Efforts toward evolving DataOps practices and embedding them into your pipelines can be a useful consideration for the green digital world. Another dimension is moving data to data centers located in cooler climatic conditions if you do not have any location-sensitive information or even auto-curate the data and store it in more green locations. Let’s talk about some advanced machine learning techniques for limited data problems, including approaches for small amounts of data, this research can be useful if connected with the carbon footprint the enormous amount of data generates
Advanced DevOps features
It is needless to say that onboarding to more green DevOps features like containers, virtualization, auto-scaling & provisioning is key. Taking the dialog further making not only infrastructure green but also developers go green on coding. Examples of features like AWS CodeGuru built more insights that let us know which lines of code need the most resources — and if there is a way to optimize them.
Some other areas where we can take a deeper look is connecting architecture of application to green strategy. Moving out of monoliths, more reusable interfaces and architecture changes that reduce energy usage, fewer resources, and hence positive impact on carbon footprint.
Marketplace for carbon-neutral products and services
What if, we can create a marketplace for carbon neutral products & services where we can cascade the impact. If we would intend to do so we might have to consider future evolutionary changes and some of the next steps could be as follows
- Map out carbon footprint for products and services and identify hotspot features
- Guidelines for the financing of ICT products & services based on carbon footprint
- Certification for green ICT services & products and standardize net-zero outlook
- Decarbonization of ICT services & products through tools & processes
Our next blog will address the marketplace considerations and elaborate in detail on the action plan. Meanwhile, DevOps Summit Canada has a track on this topic. If you are interested to submit a talk now is the time. We are looking forward to hearing from you.
Sources & references –
- Green Informatics: ICT for Green and Sustainability
- The green cloud challenge