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Future IT: FinOps, GreenOps and sustainable cloud strategies

26 Apr 2023

Sustainable IT starts with public cloud…

Driven largely by the Paris Agreement of 2015, businesses of all sizes are increasingly committed to sustainability. From reducing carbon emissions to implementing eco-friendly practices, there is a growing push towards sustainable business operations.

This comes at a time when rapid growth of the digital economy is significantly increasing energy consumption and carbon emissions. The rise of computing has led to concerns about its environmental impact. As companies strive to become more environmentally conscious, a green concept for future IT has become a critical component of sustainable business operations.

The role of public cloud will be central to sustainable IT. However, when managed haphazardly, public cloud can rapidly lead to waste and inefficiency – virtually bottomless and out of sight, public cloud tempts employees to shoot first and ask questions later. On the other hand, properly managed public cloud provides consistent energy savings in comparison to traditional on-premises data center solutions. This comes down to a conscious choice that each organization faces.

…and continues with FinOps

Leveraging energy-efficient technologies, optimizing resource usage, promoting remote work, developing green computing practices, and enabling collaboration among users and organizations, public cloud has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions compared to traditional on-premises IT infrastructure (by up to 95%).

Therefore, when I work with organizations to help them reduce their carbon footprints, one of my first recommendations is migrating their workloads to public cloud (if an organization hasn’t made that move yet). However, the cloud sustainability journey doesn’t finish with an eco-friendly public cloud environment; this is where it begins. Once the workloads are landed in the public cloud, it is important to run them with a sustainable cloud operation approach. That’s where FinOps comes in.         

The role of FinOps in cloud sustainability

FinOps (short for financial operations) is a cloud financial management discipline and cultural practice that focuses on tracking and optimizing cloud spending. It does so by bringing together IT, finance, engineering, and business teams, and providing a cultural mechanism for teams to manage their cloud costs, where everyone takes accountability of their cloud usage.

FinOps – when applied correctly – ensures the optimal usage of cloud resources, which in turn promotes not only cost efficiency but also energy savings and carbon emissions reductions. In other words, if you do not build such a cost-usage-control framework in your public cloud environment – where resource deployment is unlimited due to a pay-as-you-go cloud consumption model – this suboptimal cloud usage leads to underutilization and waste in the form of excess energy consumption and carbon emissions. Therefore, FinOps is sustainable by design.

FinOps helps organizations achieve their sustainability goals in the cloud by implementing cloud cost optimization techniques like:

  • Establishing FinOps governance and policies
  • Rightsizing and autoscaling of elastic resources
  • Shifting workloads to containers
  • Automated scheduling of compute services
  • Decommissioning of idle and unused resources
  • Reducing log ingestion
  • Optimizing storage tier and redundancy
  • Refactoring and mutualizing of applications by cloud native architectures (e.g., plarform as a service)
  • Budgeting, forecasting, and overspending alerts
  • Managing anomalies
  • Establishing FinOps culture and accountability
  • Switching usage-based pricing to new consumption models (reservations, saving plans, spot instances, etc.) for more efficient resource usage 

Brothers-in-arms – how FinOps supports GreenOps

FinOps and GreenOps are two distinct methodologies that – when used together – form a powerful strategy for organizations looking to optimize their cloud usage and reduce their environmental impact.

While FinOps is focused on managing cloud consumption, GreenOps is focused on implementing sustainable practices within an organization’s operations. It involves developing strategies that prioritize environmental sustainability while still achieving business objectives like reducing waste, promoting renewable energy sources, using eco-friendly materials and processes, and promoting a culture of sustainability and environmental responsibility. By identifying and mitigating carbon emissions, organizations can reduce their impact on the environment and contribute to a more sustainable future.

There is a bit more to it though. GreenOps encompasses everything an organization does to reduce the carbon footprint of their cloud program. This might include relocating resources to companies or regions where sustainable energy is used or using code that requires less energy to run. But the greatest contribution by far is usually – in my experience – made by FinOps.

The most obvious way is through optimization of cloud resource consumption, which naturally reduces energy consumption. FinOps can also help companies choose the most environmentally friendly cloud service providers. Best of all, the gains made by FinOps allow for continuous improvement and ensure that a company remains on track to achieve its sustainability targets.

FinOps and GreenOps can create common work areas with unified dashboards, enabling teams to make joint decisions. A great example of how FinOps and GreenOps can work together is through the optimization of supply chains. Together, teams can identify areas where supply chain inefficiencies are leading to unnecessary energy consumption so that organizations can reduce their carbon emissions and save money. FinOps can be used to identify supply chain inefficiencies, while GreenOps can be used to implement sustainable supply chain solutions.

Future IT: Sustainable and cost-effective cloud operations

Sustainability is a natural benefit of FinOps – one of many. In fact, FinOps can be an essential framework for organizations looking to reduce their environmental impact while saving money. Moreover, when combined, FinOps and GreenOps can create a more holistic approach for companies to manage their cloud resources in a sustainable and cost-effective way while also maximizing the business value of public cloud.

Incorporating FinOps recommendations into cloud operations can help drive both sustainability and cost-effectiveness. Creating a vision for end-to-end cloud operations and decarbonizing procurement are essential first steps that enable teams to identify and optimize savings opportunities. Continuous improvement and automation, empowering teams to take action, and promoting a culture of green accountability is crucial for long-term success. By adopting these measures, businesses can achieve their financial goals while also contributing to a more sustainable future.

Looking to go deeper into FinOps? Check out our FinOps services & download the whitepaper developed by IDC and commissioned by Capgemini to explore the full potential of FinOps and the value it brings to every stage of the cloud journey.

Meet our expert

Güncel Düzgün 

Sustainable FinOps Offering Co-Lead