Green code - New Relic: GreenOps sprouts new shoots

This is guest post for the Computer Weekly Developer Network written by Siva Padisetty, New Relic’s CTO.

Padisetty writes in full as follows…

Companies don’t have to sacrifice their bottom line to become more sustainable if they’re intentional about increasing efficiency.

At its core, GreenOps, the introduction of sustainability into every step of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), is a pursuit of efficiency which can have far-reaching benefits.

Some potential options to begin implementing GreenOps are relatively straightforward.

GreenOps choices

Transitioning from a constantly-powered datacentre to a cloud model and running on ARM processors can dramatically improve energy efficiency.

Other GreenOps choices are matters of principle and culture. Software engineers can choose to consider sustainability in their everyday practices – from the models and coding languages they use to regularly reviewing architecture for opportunities to streamline the stack.

New Relic is living proof that these changes are viable. After completing our exit from using data structures in October 2023, we are now running a fully cloud-based operation.

We’re also tracking toward using 100% ARM-based instances.

Reducing code bloat

Beyond those logistical choices, we have a culture where we continually reassess our architecture for opportunities to reduce bloat.

New Relic CTO Padisetty: GreenOps is a whole ecosystem in and of itself.

GreenOps doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.

Companies can begin with the smallest changes and scale up over time. New projects can be created with GreenOps principles implemented throughout the SDLC from choosing models and languages to auditing for any redundancies to cut. 

Even an individual engineer can get the ball rolling by considering the effects of their own workflows and recommendations.

One person can jumpstart a more considerate, sustainable culture by leading by example.

A good place to begin as an organization or individual is by asking questions. Why do we build software the way we do? Does this align with our priorities? Many companies rely on microservices architecture because it allows them to bring a product to market more quickly, but this framework often holds inefficiencies and redundancies in the stack. A self-audit may reveal that weakness and prompt a discussion about whether it’s time to pivot to a more sustainable foundation.

As teams begin to consider and implement these changes, it’s important to remember that the perfect can be the enemy of the good. There are few, if any, flawless solutions. Using a cloud-based infrastructure is preferable to relying on datacentres, since data centres run at all hours, while cloud can be more targeted.

However, the cloud is still a source of carbon emissions. In our team, nearly half of our carbon emissions (45.41% in FY23) was due to our cloud spend.

However, it is less than would have been emitted by continuing to rely on data center storage and we can take steps to streamline our cloud use.

Taking the first steps may be intimidating, but we expect more companies to see that the increased efficiency from implementing GreenOps processes is a win-win for the business and the planet.

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