Why the world needs GreenOps

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With COP27 just around the corner, the world is once again set to come together to try to
find a solution to the climate emergency. Given the heat we saw this summer in Europe, it’s
fair to say that urgent action needs to be taken, not just by governments or those in the
energy industry, but by all of us. The IT world is no different and has its own role to play –
for those of us working in IT, that role comes partly in the form of adopting GreenOps. So
what is GreenOps, and why does the world need it?

According to the University of Oxford, a single standard desktop computer operated over a
period of 6 years produces an annual carbon footprint of 778kg of CO2. Emissions from cloud computing are often overlooked, but they actually range from 2.5% to 3.7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, thereby exceeding emissions from commercial flights (about 2.4%) and other existential activities that fuel our global economy.

At its core, GreenOps is a framework for organisations to start understanding the environmental impacts of their IT strategies, whilst simultaneously promoting environmental responsibility at every level of the enterprise. Think of it as FinOps, a framework for managing operational expenditure, but for the planet.

The big challenge faced by those implementing GreenOps is that making an entire IT
ecosystem sustainable requires a big overview of the environmental impact of every
single area of an IT operation. For that reason, if GreenOps is going to work, it needs the
collaboration of everyone across an organisation, from the IT department right through to
HR, marketing and accounting. All of these individual departments must set business
requirements, determine software development and DevOps processes, and adhere to
operational principles. For this to happen, there needs to be a shift in mindset amongst IT
Managers and leaders to become part of the broader conversation on sustainability.

Once every employee, at every level of an organisation, understands that they have a role to
play in reducing their business’ carbon footprint, then the company as a whole can take its
first steps toward realising combined sustainability and IT goals.

So how does this happen?

Making an entire IT infrastructure go green means making sustainability a core principle.
Setting decarbonisation as a KPI alongside revenue growth, profit margin and customer
satisfaction is key to embedding environmentalism in an organisation’s corporate culture.
That’s not necessarily going to be an easy process, especially as many IT suppliers claim to
be sustainable without quantifying what that actually means. Thankfully, one sure way to
create a greener IT offering is to look to digital technology.

Digitalisation presents an opportunity for a more sustainable world by making processes
more efficient, but it doesn’t come without its own challenges – the more sophisticated
digital solutions become, the more resources they consume. The bottom line, when it
comes to GreenOps, is that there is no “one size fits all” approach. When it comes to cloud
services, which can undoubtedly help to reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint, it’s
important that IT teams have the right tools to determine when cloud services are being
used inefficiently, and how to rectify that to cut out waste. As with any kind of IT decision,
ensuring that an organisation maximises its efficiency is good for its financial situation, but
through the new lens of GreenOps also makes sense from a sustainability standpoint.

GreenOps is a critical part of the wider societal journey toward a more sustainable future.
With the renewed focus on our environment during COP27, and the increasing realisation
that we are in a climate emergency, it is crucial that IT leaders recognise their part to play in
decarbonisation.

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