Greening the software lifecycle: DevOps as a sustainability catalyst

Sustainability is smart business

clock • 2 min read
Greening the software lifecycle: DevOps as a sustainability catalyst
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Greening the software lifecycle: DevOps as a sustainability catalyst

From streaming services to productivity apps, software powers our world. But this convenience comes with a hidden environmental cost. DevOps, the practice of streamlining software development and operations, potentially holds the key to unlocking greener, more sustainable software products across industries.

Let's break down a few of the DevOps principles and see how we can weave in sustainable approaches and how they can help us bring down the environmental impact of our software products.

Collaboration and culture shift

Sustainability champions: Designate individuals or teams as sustainability champions alongside traditional DevOps roles. They'd advocate for green software considerations and educate others across the organisation.

Shared sustainability KPIs: Include sustainability metrics (energy use, carbon intensity, etc.) alongside traditional operational KPIs. This aligns the goals of both Dev and Ops teams for a holistic impact.

Automation

Carbon efficient tools: seek automation tools that themselves have sustainability built-in or can report on the energy footprint of processes they execute.

Power-aware scheduling: automate builds and deployments during off-peak hours or when renewable energy sources are more abundant on the power grid.

CI/CD

Green builds and testing: evaluate the environmental impact of CI/CD tools and make choices based on efficiency. Encourage energy-conscious test design.

Dependency analysis: assess the sustainability of third-party libraries and consider alternatives with a lower environmental footprint.

Infrastructure as Code

Cloud preference: prioritise cloud providers with strong sustainability commitments and transparent reporting on their environmental impact.

Templating for efficiency: Design IaC templates (Terraform, etc.) to default to energy-efficient configurations and right-sized resources, preventing unnecessary over-provisioning.

Monitoring and feedback

Sustainability dashboards: Include key metrics like the Software Carbon Intensity (SCI) of applications, alongside traditional performance metrics.

Alerts for inefficiency: Set up alerts for unusual spikes in resource consumption or patterns that might indicate unnecessarily wasteful code.

Customer-Centricity

Transparency: If feasible, give customers visibility into the sustainability efforts of your product/service. This aligns with consumer values and can be a selling point.

Green features: Survey customer needs for features that prioritise sustainability or provide them with ways to optimise their own resource usage within the software.

Conclusion

DevOps isn't just about faster releases, it's about smarter releases. By baking sustainability into the development lifecycle, businesses across sectors can create more environmentally friendly software products. Sustainability is smart business as the energy efficiency from putting the DevOps principles mentioned in this article into practice directly translates to lower infrastructure and operational costs, benefiting the bottom line. It should also free resources and talent to focus on building innovative, eco-conscious products and features that align with customer values.

To find out more I would recommend Green Software Foundation to utilise their resources and align with their principles within your DevOps processes

Take an iterative approach and introduce sustainability gradually, measure the impact, and constantly refine. If you are interested in acquiring more knowledge in this space I strongly suggest the Green Software for Practitioners training for anyone involved in software products.

Steve Hawkins, principal engineer at ClearBank, drives innovation in financial services through his expertise in cloud computing, platform engineering, and developer experience. He champions sustainable technologies to help organisations grow responsibly. Steve actively shares his knowledge, inspiring a sustainable tech-conscious future through speaking and community engagement.

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