Decades ago, the United Nation's Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set and adopted by the United Nations (UNO) aim to improve the lives of humans globally. SDG 13 – Climate Action is one of the most talked about goals as carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rose to new records in past years. Since information technology is one of the fastest-growing sectors and with the increasing trend in digital transformation, there is an exponential growth in public cloud adoption.
After the Paris Agreement in 2015, all the major public cloud providers are working towards their Go Green goals and reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. While AWS aims to use 100% renewable energy by 2025 with a commitment to reach net-zero carbon across its operations by 2040, GCP is carbon neutral for its operations today and aims to run on carbon-free energy 24/7 at all GCP data centers by 2030. On the other hand, Microsoft Azure has set high goals for itself and is committed to using 100% renewable energy by 2025, targeting net-zero deforestation from new construction, getting water-positive, and achieving zero-waste certification by 2030.
Explore, Iterate and Follow Best Practices with FinOps – Tools and Practices
The public cloud providers have laid out ambitious plans to make their cloud computing services more sustainable. Still, the discussion amongst the CXOs is around how they will make their cloud landscape greener, as the metrics to measure growth now also include the carbon footprint of IT services, especially cloud. With the adoption of FinOps, there has been a cultural shift within organizations. A more responsible cloud consumption, with cost transparency and environmental sustainability, is now a goal to be reached within fixed timelines. A blend of financial management with environmental management is set to make organizations more profitable and has led to the evolution of the principles of GreenOps from FinOps.
It needs to be measured efficiently to manage and reduce the carbon footprint. Thus, cloud consoles have services such as GCP Carbon Footprint, Azure Sustainability Calculator, and AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool. The FinOps practitioners are considered the best personas to manage and reduce carbon footprints in the cloud. As they have working knowledge of the principles and capabilities of the FinOps Framework. The consumption in the cloud is directly proportional to the carbon emission; thus, the responsibility to run a sustainable workload in the cloud and a formula to Explore, Iterate and Follow Best Practices with FinOps is the ultimate resolution.
FinOps Journey and Digital Sustainability - A Prescriptive Model for GreenOps
Introducing the stakeholders to Cloud sustainability and the impact of FinOps on energy usage and carbon emissions.
- Assess and Discover Value
Sustainability assessments leveraging native tools such as GCP Carbon Footprint, Azure Sustainability Calculator and AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool
- FinOps Roadmap
Implement a FinOps process and a tool to track waste and anomalies and improvise architecture to reduce carbon emissions
- Execute and Repeat
Create an iterative FinOps process to achieve your sustainability goals and contribute to the global aim of building a cleaner and greener Earth
The public cloud providers have come up with formulas to measure the carbon footprint of the services a customer consumes in their cloud landscape; they have launched tools to create dashboards and visualize those data points. Factual data showing gross carbon emissions associated with cloud usage, advocacy on choosing more sustainable low-carbon cloud regions, recommendations on ways to decrease carbon footprints, adding strategies to design cloud architectures with sustainability in mind and the introduction of the pillar of sustainability in the Well-Architected Framework are some of the prominent features that have been added recently.
The Impact of GreenOps on FinOps – The Scope and Cloud Decarbonization
The FinOps community has acknowledged the convergence of Digital Sustainability with FinOps and is laying the framework for practitioners to understand that by doing one and the other is amplified.
The FinOps tools are also developing algorithms and have integrated the cloud carbon footprint services to democratize sustainability reporting, provide visualization, optimize efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions.
The Green House Gas (GHG) reporting of an organization is based on scope under the GHG Protocols, which differentiates the classification of emissions.
Scope 1 – Direct Emissions
Scope 2 - Indirect Emissions – Owned / Purchased Energy
Scope 3 - Indirect Emissions - Not Owned
The public clouds are measured on Scopes 1 and 2 and a lot has been done to optimize that, but the consumption of these clouds falls in Scope 3 and often for the new age establishments, most of the reported carbon emissions lie in Scope 3. Concepts of FinOps aim at covering Scope 3 emissions and reducing them for organizations to be Paris-aligned and meet the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global average temperatures well below 2°C and aiming for 1.5°C.
The FinOps framework reinforces cloud decarbonization with the following mechanisms:
- Measure GHG emissions through the Carbon Footprint tools
- Create energy-efficient architecture
- Modernization - Serverless consumes resources only when an application is active
- Track waste and unattended resources to lower costs and their carbon footprint
- Choosing cleaner cloud regions based on their Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)
- Start and Stop schedules to save resources during non-business hours
- Use languages and codes to build an application that consumes less compute
- Governance model to follow principles of sustainable operations in the cloud
The value realization of the investment in the cloud has been a widespread problem among all enterprises. They have found a solution in the principles laid out by the FinOps Foundation. The FinOps best practices, principles, phases, domains, and capabilities led by a FinOps practitioner are helping clients achieve a more efficient and sustainable cloud environment. The “Crawl, Walk & Run” maturity model of FinOps is also followed in GreenOps and helps enterprises start with small targets and achieve high goals. While adopting FinOps led GreenOps within an organization, in the Crawl stage, the maturity of the practice is considered, as there can be minimal or negligible reporting and data visualization at this stage. As the process matures to the Walk stage, the data is made available to stakeholders, tools are implemented, and KPIs are set. In contrast, at the Run stage, the high goals and targets are met, best practices are not compromised, and most importantly, the principles of FinOps are culturally induced.
Addressing sustainability and reducing carbon emissions on our planet is no longer optional. The high targets are set and now it is the responsibility of each one of us to contribute to this great cause of Net Zero and make this planet a better place to live for generations to come. Deforestation, melting ice, rising sea levels, high AQI, and global warming are among the greatest concerns of modern times. However, a lot must still be done to address these environmental crises. Humanity has developed rapidly over the last few centuries but has missed following the sustainable development model and now is the moment, as it is never too late for a new beginning.