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Intersection of Cloud FinOps & Sustainability

Definition

Cloud sustainability is the practice of using cloud computing services in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable. This involves considerations on the environmental impact of the energy used to power and cool the servers and data centers that make up the cloud, as well as the economic costs associated with maintaining these systems.

In order to begin achieving outcomes related to cloud sustainability, organizations need to consider the full lifecycle of their cloud services, from the sourcing of materials and energy used to build the data centers, to the disposal of outdated equipment. 

Additionally, organizations can implement a variety of strategies to reduce their environmental impact, such as using renewable energy sources and adopting energy-efficient technologies. By considering the environmental and economic costs of cloud computing, organizations can make informed decisions that support both their business objectives and the health of the planet.

Key Terms

To build a strong understanding of the intersection between FinOps and Sustainability and/or GreenOps, please review the terminology section from our community Working Group’s Sustainability Guide.

Key terms are provided within that documentation, including acronyms and organizations that should be reviewed to understand all the facets involved with sustainability and FinOps.

Example A: Efficient cloud usage as a path to sustainability

As a growing number of businesses and organizations continue to rely on cloud computing to support their operations, it’s important to consider the environmental impact of these systems. One of the key ways to reduce the emissions associated with your cloud deployments and workloads is to optimize their performance and efficiency.

One of the first steps in reducing the emissions of your cloud workloads is to choose a cloud service provider that prioritizes sustainability. Many cloud providers have committed to using renewable energy sources to power their data centers, and some have even achieved carbon neutrality. By choosing a provider that aligns with your sustainability goals, you can help reduce the emissions associated with your workloads.

Another way to reduce emissions is to optimize your workloads for efficiency. This can be achieved through a variety of means, including scaling your resources up or down as needed, using technologies such as serverless computing and containerization to reduce the amount of resources required, and implementing effective resource management practices.

By ensuring that your workloads are as efficient as possible, you can help reduce the emissions associated with their operation.

Considerations alongside Capability

The Sustainability capability is very closely linked to the Resource Utilization & Efficiency Capability, since both focus on ways to minimize consumed resources within the Cloud.

Intersections with Other Frameworks

  • ITAM
  • ITSM
  • TBM
  • Financial Operations
  • ESG
  • DevOps / SRE
  • Governance / Compliance / Change Management

Maturity Assessment

As the community, including the Sustainability WG, continues its research and work, we’ll add in more points related to assessing the maturity of a FinOps & Sustainability program by level. If you’re reading this and would like to contribute, start by joining the discussion on our Community Slack in the #chat-sustainability channel.

Crawl

  • TBD

Walk

  • TBD

Run

  • TBD

Functional Activity

As someone in a FinOps Practitioner role, I will…

  • Work with the Cloud Providers to improve the clarity and auditability of their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and factor that data into a usable, consumable format that is relevant for supporting sustainable business decisions.
  • Continue to champion a policy of elastic resource provisioning within the business
  • Support the business in establishing and measuring ESG data, pursuing higher accuracy in auditing the data and aligning efficiency metrics to show positive/negative sustainability impact
  • Enable the business to make more sustainable cloud workload decisions by providing clear, relevant data that is as near real-time as is practically possible.

As someone in an Engineering/Operations role, I will…

  • Work with Finance and FinOps teams to understand the strategic business guidelines for which cloud options to build within
  • Be aware of the sustainability implications of oversizing resource allocations, and work to deploy highly elastic solutions that minimize or eliminate wasted resources.
  • Be aware of the power consumption metrics of the different cloud services as I incorporate them into my build, and aim to leverage less-demanding options where possible

As someone in a Finance role, I will…

  • Work with Engineering teams to Clarify, balance and justify guidance for more sustainable cloud options (lower carbon regions etc) vs lower cost cloud options

Measure(s) of Success & KPI

Measures of success are represented in the context of cloud costs and may include one or more key performance indicators ( KPI ), describe objectives with key results ( OKR ), and declare thresholds defining outliers or acceptable variance from forecasted trends.

Term Full Wording
Metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mtCO2e) Each measurement of greenhouse gas can be converted to metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents by using that greenhouse gas’s global warming potential (GWP) factor.
kg of carbon dioxide equivalents (kgCO2e) Each measurement of greenhouse gas can be converted to kilograms (kg) of carbon dioxide equivalents by using that greenhouse gas’s global warming potential (GWP) factor.
Litres of H2O consumed Measurement for water consumption (commonly used in data centers)
MWh of electricity Total megawatt hours (MWh) used from electricity
kWh of electricity Total kilowatt hours (kWh) used from electricity
m3 of water Typically, total water consumed in cubic meters

Inputs

the information used that contributes to the measure(s) of success listed above; information here may include specific datasources, reports or any relevant input

 

Get Involved

Get involved and contribute to the community by sharing your real world experiences related to this Capability in the form of a story or providing a playbook for how you have implemented best practices in your organization. Your real world experiences can be provided in the context of:

  • one or more cloud providers
  • the types of cloud services used (compute, storage, database, etc…)
  • describe a combination of tooling, platform or vendor, and processes including KPIs
  • the industry the organization belongs to
  • the complexity of the organization (global enterprise, start-up, etc…)
  • the [FinOps personas](https://www.finops.org/framework/personas/) involved / organizational roles

Join the conversation about this Capability in Slack . You can submit stories, how-tos and suggest improvements using one of the options for contributing here.

Related Projects


Intersection of Cloud FinOps & Sustainability
Digital Sustainability and Its Intersection with FinOps