How do we make Green Changes in Organisations?

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In this episode Asim Hussain is joined by guest Anne Currie; Tech Ethicist at Container Solutions and Lecturer in Tech Ethics at the University of Hertfordshire. What are the real factors that drive organisations choices around increasing efficiency within their organisation? What needs to happen for senior leaders to make sacrifices for sustainability? Can regulation push for real change inside organisations? They discuss the role of middle managers, developers and their love for ops people!
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Environment Variables_Ep3_Transcript

Anne Currie: We need to be shifting it so that people think how efficient is this and demanding it? I think our power is developers is not to do stuff. It's to demand stuff of the people. We are buying things.
Asim Hussain: Hello, and welcome to Environment Variables brought to you by the Green Software Foundation. In each episode, we discuss the latest news and events surrounding green software. On our show, you can expect candid conversations with top experts in their field who have a passion for how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of software.
I'm your host. Assamese sane. So welcome to Environment Variables. My name is Asim Hussain. I am the executive director and chairperson of the Green software foundation.
Anne Currie: And I am Anne Currie. I'm a tech ethicist. That's a long time veteran technologist, I'm Tech Ethicist for Container Solutions, which is a member of the Green Software Foundation. I'm a lecturer of Tech Ethics at the University of Hertfordshire. And I am a serial startup founder.
Asim Hussain: So I'm a serial startup, a failure, which is, I think I will. This is, I think maybe this is an interesting direction to go into the, into the topic because the topic I want to talk about today, it was, how do you make change inside and organizational more specifically? How do you. Make changes relates to green software, the greening of our field in how'd you have those conversations inside organizations.
And actually one of the things I have because I've had some success, not a lot, not a lot, not a lot of success, but some success inside the organization, main organization I've worked in while I've kind of gone to space, which is Microsoft. And I often wonder whether the success I've had is linked to all of my startup failures or the failures I've had. And what is a startup, other than trying to convince somebody of something, you know, on the, on the most literally buying into your idea is, is what a startup is. Is that, how is that? How you see it? Do you see similarities?
Anne Currie: Absolutely. Yes. Yeah. And it's not just slightly buying in really buying in.
Asim Hussain: Yeah.
Anne Currie: Yeah.
Asim Hussain: I always say like, you, you need to, like, you really need to come out with going off on a tangent, but I always say to be successful in a startup, you need to give a, a poop about $5. And that is because you need to, you need to get somebody to give you $5 and the, you need to care so much about the first, relatively small amount you're going to get.
You to put so much energy into it that you need to, which is why, if, if, if you're reasonably successful already, it can be quite difficult to get started because you're like, I don't really care about the first $5. Um, I want the billion, but yeah, cause I, I remember maybe describe like, what what'd you describe, you had some, some successes inside your organizations you worked in, in, in, or even, not even in the organization, but generally regarding spreading the word of Greenville.
Anne Currie: Well, actually for me, green software is a relatively recent thing. I've been, I've been pushing it for in my career. I've been pushing efficient software for a long time. And I got, I started down this route. Based on pushing software efficiency. And I found that it really doesn't sell at all. It's I really thought, well, if I can sell people on cutting costs that who doesn't want cutting costs is always on people's lists of things they want to do.
But what I realized was unless it's the number one thing on my list. Like, there'll be, they'll take the meetings with you. They'll talk to you. But fundamentally what they'll actually want you to try to do is solve the problem, which is at the top of their list, which for development organizations is always developer products.
Asim Hussain: Yes.
Anne Currie: That's and the machine productivity will all add cost is always secondary to solving their developer productivity. So you go in trying to sell them on efficiency. And what they actually want you to do is to increase the fee is increasing the developer productivity of their teams. And I had to change the message.
And, and I'll talk to you a little bit. I have to talk about how I changed the green message to align it with. So I had, I had a bit of an epiphany. I was cause I used all of talking about developer efficiency, efficiency of our containers, Docker containers and that kind of stuff. And I was giving a talk at a conference HashCorp EU, about that.
And the person who was immediately before me was Mitchell Hashimoto, who was the, uh, who's the founder of, of HashCorp. I've watched a couple done, fantastic work around, no match, no match scheduler about increasing the efficiency of hosting applications. And my talk was all about increasing efficiency. His talk was all about.
No one could sell increasing efficiency because all anybody cared about was developer efficiency and they didn't care how much it costs to make the lives for their developers simpler. So they were, they were having, they were basing everything off that. And I thought, yeah, I really need to change my message here because he was quite right.
That it is, it is all that anybody cares.
Asim Hussain: Is it, I think, and I just inserted it's up to you, but I think it's because we cost too much. I talk about this. We're very, if you to look at the costs of the cloud workload infrastructure, and it can be quite significant, I will admit, but the cost to developers and also the opportunity cost of your developers.
I think you, you, you, it's not just the cost, the developers with like, if they weren't there and they weren't doing what they're doing, your, your competitors are doing something and that might so. Fearful thing that you just got to deliver as fast as possible. You've got to be in the market first and that, that drives a lot of the investment.
Anne Currie: Yeah, absolutely. It does enable developers to move on. And, you know, I've, I've run development teams in the past. And hiring developers is really, really hard. It's hard to get them. And it's hard to get ones that are not going to be a disaster when they appear. So nobody wants anybody to leave. No one wants, no one wants to, everyone's desperate to hire people, but, and they want to just get the most out of them when they're in.
They do not want to spend any time on anything else unless they have.
Asim Hussain: Yeah. So how so, how have you changed? How have you managed to change the narrative somewhat to support kind of greening of software systems? Like what arguments.
Anne Currie: Well, I, cause I started, I'll tell you what didn't work for me. So I started describing efficiency improvements and things like, because I'm quite old. And I used to work on backend servers in the nineties and everything was written in C and exchange and things like. Which, which are a hundred times more efficient than Mo, than modern equivalents often, usually in fact, so, you know, it was, it, it there's so much efficiency to be gained by just write, using a more lightweight language.
You see, you could use rust or whatever, but that's landed appallingly people, developers went, oh yeah, that's true. But then never be able to get signed off on it because it's too expensive and slows what slows them down. Those languages are very inefficient for develop. Unless they're absolutely necessary.
So unless you're writing something that's super high performance and therefore has to run at crazy speeds. Everybody's just going to go look, let it run more so late. Let me pay for more hosting that burned more carbon in the atmosphere and, and I'll have it in Python. And thank you very much.
Asim Hussain: But I'd also argue that. I mean, it's not always the language that dictates how efficient or inefficient the code is. Oftentimes. I mean, you can write extremely inefficient code in C and you can write extremely shockingly efficient code in JavaScript. Make fun of JavaScript. You can write incredibly if you, if you, if he understand the language really well, you need to be good at what you do.
But what I was surprised me was that it doesn't really matter because the end of the day, all that matters. Yeah. People are happy to ship inefficient, pour quality code that delivers on the functionality to whatever agreement that is required to meet the business goals. Yeah.
Anne Currie: I agree. That's all that people care about is shipping quickly and that it basically works. That's. So I changed my pitch a little bit to, well, how can I, how can we go to something more systemic? So rather than have developers tune their code and make it all efficient and super amazing. Can we put pressure on somebody else who is making that case?
It's a big hit, super efficient, so specialists so that there are two, two parts to play. As there you've got the pipe cloud providers who are providing services, can you make their hosting efficient? And can you make their services efficient? And can you make them offer more services at the tar green and efficient?
And then the second thing is, can you make open source projects start to. Really targets, carbon efficiency and offer those carbon aware features and things like that. Now, I haven't really looked at it. I, at the time I went full hell for leather on cloud, but we also, I think, need to start working on, on the open source side of things.
Asim Hussain: I mean, I I'm constantly reminded that how much open source is actually used in every single project. I mean, the GIP team tell me that it's about 90% of an enterprise stack. Open source. And actually some of the things that they've mentioned to me in the past also is hotspots. Like there are, I mean, if you're in the organization, I think actually if you can, you can navigate the public database of open source projects.
And there are like a few key libraries that are used every. You know, if you look they're there. So there, those are the hotspots and any improvements in code efficiency, which is not something I'd necessarily like to talk about, but that, that those are the places where you probably should put effort into code efficiency because the impact is magnified so many times from an open source perspective.
Anne Currie: I mean, things like service meshes. If you're, if you're running Kubernetes, the service mesh runs all the time and it is it's on demand and it's often horrendous. It's like, you know, mining Bitcoin on your applications. Absolutely redness. So there are some coming on the market that are more efficient, but at the most.
It's not necessarily the key selling points of those things. I think we need to be shifting it so that people think how efficient is this and demanding it big. I think our powers developers is not to do stuff it's to demand stuff of the people. We are buying things
Asim Hussain: Ah, yes. Yeah.
yeah. Using our purchasing power to, for the good, but isn't, isn't it? Cause that, that has been my experience kind of throughout, throughout this whole. You know that this whole process, you might, you might get some buy-in. If you're talking to your leadership, you're talking to different organizations, you might get some buy-in, but I always describe as grace and favor is through the grace and favor of a leader who sacrifices some sort of form of some sort of metric that they are being heavily measured upon to just, well, let's give sustainability.
This is important to me. The number of senior leaders who've mentioned to me that, that children. Saying things to them at the dinner table, as well as driven them. I mean, I think that is, I I've heard of that statement before, but I, I really believe it now is kind of as there's an aspect of that, but it's through grace and favor and you might get, I mean, it's not the worst thing in the world.
You might get a project kick-started, you might be able to do some research or something along those lines, but it will not scale. It just will not scale to any, to any large. And until you can align what your offering to what they're getting measured upon. And I think that's really what they are getting measured upon is the challenge.
And no one is currently significantly getting measured against sustainability. If it was, I think sort of the things that some of the conversations we have, it will be very, very different.
Anne Currie: um, my suspicion is that, I mean, Isn't it. It's not like I love the cloud providers. You'll worry about
Asim Hussain: I should be more in that.
Anne Currie: your threat. I don't love the cloud providers, but I think they are soft targets. And that if you, you know, it kinda, it's aligned with people. If you say it will make your life more easy. If you use cloud services and cloud services agreed, then you kind of like you're selling your life is more easy and also you get green for free, but I'm, I'm thinking one of the sales in the future would be, I know full well people hate to measuring things and having to report that's terrible.
Everybody hates doing that. So I suspect. Being able to use cloud services where you can just say, oh, give me your report. Here's the report I didn't have to do anything is actually another USP for cloud.
Asim Hussain: It is a USP, but I think interestingly, it becomes cause then these cloud provider has to offer a different value proposition of that reporting. And then you get into, like, I just probably went to get in trouble saying this, but we really have to be really convenient. If every single cloud.
provider just gave the same report,
Anne Currie: Yeah, the net. We're going to do that
Asim Hussain: but because there's no, there's no capability then saying, well, our reports are better than the next person's reports.
Right? You don't. Cause it's all constantly between the cloud providers. It's all about, I would say is jokingly saying that there's so much more that than. You can say this argument for all of life, to be honest with you, there's so much more that those is commonality between his and his difference. Like the different, like you've got a piece of code, it needs to run it on someone else's computer is pretty much the same between the Google, the Amazon, the Microsoft app.
It's all pretty much the same. We have, but we focus in on the, on the differences. Like what are the key difference at differentiators between them? And I think this has just been one of the differentiators, like reporting is just another thing to be differentiating. It's very few areas where there's a lot of focus on, on standardization.
Anne Currie: I can also see why they did that. I mean, so I don't have any inside knowledge of any of these, but I remember hearing a stat that I found quite musing about Microsoft that might stop now hires more lawyers than engineers.
Asim Hussain: I don't know. I honestly couldn't tell you if that was true. I should probably also acknowledge it right at the start. My other affiliation is towards Microsoft. I don't think, I think I would probably rerecord the start maybe in the kind of acknowledged that also. But yeah, my I'm most of the green cloud because Microsoft, so I do have some insight into that.
Anne Currie: But I can see why, if you were a lawyer, you would want to steer clear of standardization of reporting on the green side, because then you, you introduce a liability. Then if you just say, oh, it's hand-wavy about this, then you want to avoid someone coming up and saying, well, hang on a minute. I made all of these legally binding reports based on your, your thing.
And actually I've just compared it to get to Google and they say, you're wrong.
Asim Hussain: But if Yeah.
but if you always different as if what you're providing is always different to everybody else, you can always put an argument is there's always a spin on it where standardizations forces you to the same level playing for where you have to then compete on the same rules. And you really do discover who's who's better than the other.
I think it's interesting. I think I do. I do. I mean, obviously there's many people inside an organization and everybody has. You know, motivations and it's not all the same and it's not just one voice all the time, but no.
one says they want standardization until the standardization happens. And then they really want the standardization because then they, but then cause then they just finally on the same level playing field and then they can compete fairly, but they have to be dragged in. You know what I mean? Which is why I was away for me. Cause I, I spoke this similar stuff. I talking on so many levels of so many people inside organizations about green software. I did have successes, I call and grace and favor successes. You know, you know, people who are willing to just put in investment to, to, to something to see, see how.
To the scale investments? No, I'd never really had any successes there. The first time I got the hint that this might not be the right direction or there might be a different direction. Was when we started talking about regulation when there starts to be hints of regulation on the horizon. And one thing I realized, I mean, just the conversations, just the threat of regulation opens more doors.
Than anything else. They, for instance, one of the things I've learned early in my years at Microsoft was that you really do have to find customers. You can't just like be waving around going, Hey, I'm really passionate about technology. And I know my area and, and you know, like if we were to build this feature, you know, I, trust me, trust me a lot of people with.
I said, no, one's paying attention. You've got to come in with like, I've got five customers. They all want this feature. This is how much money they want to spend. If they get this feature, we should prioritize this. Let's get this prioritize and because, okay, look, let's, let's do this. That regulation surpasses. Would open the doors to passing that fear. I w I used to work in investment banking and one of the lessons I learned leaving investment banking was there's only two things people really care about. And that's fear, fear, and greed fear, I think is greater than fair regulation was the grit and the grit of, of, of money.
So I think that's the direction that would really help us out a lot is more regulation. This.
Anne Currie: It would, it really would. I totally agree. Yeah, without it, life has been a lot more difficult than aftermath. I would say another technique, a tic technique that I used to use that to some effect, not, not to massive effect to someone like him with that. We didn't have any regulation. Apart from the threat, the threat of regulation is to find someone who is accidentally doing something really good.
That right. And talk to them and say, do you know you're doing this thing? It's really, really good. Let me write it up is an amazing thing you were doing. And then they would go, oh yeah, we're doing this thing deliberately. And then they would let you, and then you would, they will talk at conferences about it.
And they will say to that to everybody that this is something really care about that because they're not, they don't do any, there's no effort. But so once they're already doing it, they'll talk up what they're doing and then say, oh, this is something we would care about massively. And that's why we're doing it, but getting them to do it, it's impossible.
Asim Hussain: Yeah. Yeah. So it's like someone who's already doing some work around or something that could, that is more efficient or it does reduce carbon. And I do. Thoughts as well. But then I like, for instance, for me, I get into the whole realms and it gets stuck in my head regarding these kinds of moral and ethical tech ethics.
So this is the perfect person to talk to, but I'm like, this is going to be a, this will be quite a tangential conversation actually, because then where is greenwashing? Right? Greenwashing is a really challenging concept for me to wrap my head around because I work in a large enterprise organization. You know, it's kind of everything that you do has multiple vectors inside it, right?
When someone's making a sustainability announcement. Yes. There are people involved who cap passionately about this space. There's also marketing people who, you know, they're getting measured on how many clicks and all this other stuff. So everybody's, it's this mixture of things that go into kind of announcements.
Some of it is also just gonna be like, well, we can make money out of this as well. Like there's whole that aspect coming into that. But. Always upset of core people who care passionately about this and then figure out what, in order for this to be successful, we need to get marketing people interested in it.
We need to get business people. Who's get the financial people in, in, in, in, in, on our side. And so what I always say is that there has to be that the initial intention. That's I think what Greenwood greenwashing is is, is when there's no initial intention to do good in the first place for me, that's, that's what I define as greenwashing.
But then again, other people have told me, I may ask him, there are companies that really agree mushing and what you're on the other end of the whole spectrum to what we really mean is greenwashing. But anyway, yeah.
Anne Currie: I think that's very, it's very hard to be active in this without constantly thinking about is what's the right thing to do when it wasn't. The other thing I do is I write a series of science fiction novels. I've just published book number seven. And the entire thing is, is like the question of. What's the right thing to do, you know, are you, is it can't, is it it's you have to be truthful all the time or is it Bentham?
Is it utilitarian? If it, if it comes out on to on top, is it good? Even if the intentions were wrong or if the intentions were right, but some of the things that happened along the way until the line in order to make it happen, but it has a good effect. Is that right? Or is it wrong? It's very hard.
Asim Hussain: It is. It's really hard. I bet we have enough.
Anne Currie: Nobody has done.
Asim Hussain: Yeah, I suppose they would have to have their internal answers. So for me, myself, I'm like, I, as long as the intention is, as long as my intention is good, I'm happy to speak to whoever I need to speak to and put whatever argument I need to spin on it to, to make it happen is, is, is the way I kind of view it.
But Yeah.
Anne Currie: So you, you are a follower of Jeremy Bentham,
Asim Hussain: Is that a bit? Is that it's I utilitarianism,
Anne Currie: Yeah, you
Asim Hussain: the sound.
Anne Currie: Emmanuel Kant truth at all costs.
Asim Hussain: No. I'm not like an idealist like that. No, no, no, no, no failing whilst having a good feeling about myself. Isn't isn't for me is not, you know, so what that's just, that's actually ego. That's like your own ego, you know, I, I would argue your ego shouldn't matter in any of this. Yeah.
Anne Currie: Yeah. It's, it's interesting. It is. It's not. Aye. Aye. Aye, aye. Also utilitarian, cause I want to Tappan, you know, and I, I, but at the same time I can see the argument that. Humans should be given all the information and allowed to make a free choice. But, but the reality is that they don't have all the information and they can't make a free choice.
So, you know, it's what world do we live in? We live in a world where you're going to have to make an argument to your boss and, you know, cap Emmanuel Kant says, so is not a sufficiently convincing argument.
Asim Hussain: I think that's the end of the day is, is, is it's all about convincing people, that's it? And that's all that your life has ever been about. It's about convincing people. Yeah. Anyway, get back back to topic, back to topic, back to topic. Yeah. So one of the things I found was, was, was, was, was regulation was one of the things that I, that really seem to open the doors.
It didn't, I mean, until it until actually. I mean, some of the conversation I thought was the thought was interesting was that there is, there is a strong desire to, to be ahead of regulation, not to just respond to it so that there that is there. But I do think the world we're just not quite there just doesn't seem to be any regulation.
That's just on the verge of like pushing for real change inside an organization. Yeah. I mean, what, I don't even know what some of that regulation would look like. I mean, a carbon tax would obviously be the main thing.
Anne Currie: What makes Spain, Spain ready have variable electricity pricing. So. There's a lot of S that the sun is shining and the wind's blowing electricity is one hell of a lot cheaper than at times when it isn't. So that's, I think that's quite likely to come at some point, but will it be enough to change?
Asim Hussain: Well, if it, I think going back to the original point of developer velocity is if that's all there is, I mean, how much of, I mean, one of the key challenges that we have you talk about, I talk about it is, you know, server utilization. I mean, if there's one, if there's one thing that you should work on inside an organization, which would have the biggest bang for your book, it's increasing your server utilization because most workloads for more.
Organizations are running a very low levels of utilization, but when you and I, and I initially thought that just because I start having conversations with customers and people who have low utilizations, and I initially thought it was something along the lines of, oh, they just don't know. Um, oh, if I just, if I just explained to them, this is the situation, did you know, have you heard of auto scaling?
Have you heard of auto scaling? Oh, this is wonderful thing. A lots of skeletons. But no, like the reasons for that there's many reasons for why they have chosen. They've chosen that path, but not, they're not fooled. Nobody knows what's going on. They've said, well, we're willing to live with the added expense of having quite a lot of our machines idle because of X, Y, and Z and X, Y, and Z have almost always got to do with money.
Yes. We could go auto scaling. We could use as all the other methodologies, but you know, we've done it in the past and we lost three days worth of trading and that's social. It's not really worth it for us. We'd rather like live with the risk.
Anne Currie: Yeah, yes. Which is why, again, I, I try to point people towards. Cloud managed services for that kind of stuff, because it's just too hard. You, you, you don't have the skills in your team. Almost everybody wants to, to go to zero ops these days. So the last thing they want to do is to give additional complexity to their ops teams.
Asim Hussain: this is maybe this is what cause you, you and I have kind of had quite a few conversations in the past about how to actually cause at this, I think we're at the crux of. The challenge that we have. And I think we both agreed, this is, this is it. This is this, this log that we're trying to move this, this rock that we're trying to, to roll one of the ways that I've spoken about this and I've thought, Well, this is going bottom up.
You know, uh, we need this to change. Maybe the solution is engaging with all of those, not just developers, the people who are in the business of building software, all their software teams. Making a priority for them so that it just kind of happens because some of my experience in the past and working in, in, in, in, in engineering organizations is you can always, if you want to try and get something done, you can usually go the official route, which is through the top and get it prioritized.
And like all the other stuff, or you can just sideline have a bunch of conversations with the actual people building. And they're like, yeah, right. I'll just implement that tomorrow. You know, something along those lines. There's a lot of stuff that actually gets done. I think in the bottom up approach, I think you have a, more of a, a slight different thinking on the topic then if you want to.
Anne Currie: Well, I would love to do it bottom up. And I, and I do agree with you that, well, there's been a lot of psychological thinking organizational thinking about how do you make changes in organizations? And because a lot of it came from changing the finance industry because it had to really change after that, after the big crash of 2008 and 2009, and they did loads and loads of psychological research and organizational psychological research.
And what they found was that really. Uh, less middle managers decided to do it. It all stopped, you know, they would stop it going up and they stop it going down, which is where I think the tech conferences are very good because they tend to be attended by people in the middle managers, senior architects, if you can get them on board.
Then that's all this really required. Top-down gets stopped by that bottom up, get stopped by them. So tech conferences are a good, a good place or, or, you know, magazine said th the register who is traditionally been a bit, a bit slow or pushing green and stuff. So they had no use, but that, that kind of level of folk are probably the people that we, that if we can convince we can change things.
But I mean, if you look at Kubernetes, that's. Bottom-up thing to do. And I think it crazy to implement Kubernetes is unbelievably large amounts of work.
Asim Hussain: so it's crazy to implement
Anne Currie: Yeah. I think it's
Asim Hussain: Oh, wow.
Anne Currie: amount of work. I would go to a manage service any day of the week before.
Asim Hussain: Oh, I see what you're saying. So like a man is Kubernetes is kind of a containerized solution. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It doesn't stop people. I've heard people like I've walked into projects and I'm like, you you've implemented what by yourself? Yeah.
Anne Currie: I know what I can see, what people used to and anybody over a certain age has written their own orchestrator in the
Asim Hussain: well, it's fun. Isn't it? It's like you start on a project. You're like, I'll just get.
Anne Currie: and necessary if he wants to have performance, you know, if you want something to stay up, you had to write some kind of orchestrates and to do that. But yeah. Can we as just a company.
Asim Hussain: but is that maybe it may, maybe that's what it's all about because maybe it's certain types of decisions need to go middle, middle. And certain types of decisions in this space needs to go bottom up, because now what we're doing here is, is, is wide. This there's a wide variety of things you can do.
Like choice of technology. People think happens higher up inside an organization. And I don't think it happens higher per second organization at all. I think it happens right in the trenches. I always see a leaders, rarely ever pick a technology, which that team is not already comfortable using in my experience. usually a lot of resistance if they're not, if you're picking a different technology, a lot of resistance. So maybe some of the, maybe it's like some of the leveraging, some of the open source technologies or some of the solutions, some of the more engineering type solutions should be bottom up.
People can just pick them. We make them make those choices easier for people. But what kind of, what kind of areas could middle management help out within their space? Just measuring prioritization of issues or where money goes.
Anne Currie: Well things like whether you're going to move to the cloud or you're going to be on.
Asim Hussain: Yeah. Okay.
Anne Currie: very much a middle management decision. That's not something that the young person is going to, that, that kind of level of change. Isn't isn't really going to happen.
Asim Hussain: that's true. That's true. I get a lot of feedback from people who are kind of at the lower, early stages in their career. And the feedback to me, oftentimes for a lot of advice has been, this is all great, but there's nothing I can do. There's nothing I can do. Whereas middle management have more capability.
Anne Currie: Yeah, but, but I think you have an interesting point, which is that there are, there are decisions. There are large-scale decisions. There are middle management. Which might be okay. Well, do you want to, actually, if you want to start measuring this stuff, do you want to move into the cloud? Do you want to adopt this new service?
Uh, at a large scale, large scale, but there are also small level decisions, like, well, given your already in AWS or Azure, or do you want to use this service or this service, or do you want to use this open source tool or this open source tool? Because that kind of thing you do have change. You do have country.
Asim Hussain: Just thinking about cloud. I think that is an easy one to think of, but yeah, one of them is like moving to the cloud, but I think it's not just moving to the cause. There's two aspects of moving to the cloud. There's one, which is the cloud is some, may be somewhat more efficient. Than where you are currently.
And I'd say maybe It may be somewhat more efficient than we
Anne Currie: It depends what services
Asim Hussain: depends on services use. Yeah. I think we're having some conversations about this previously, but I think the, the great thing about cloud is it allows you. To architecture solutions in a way which increases your utilization. I think that is kind of like the fundamental crux of moving to the cloud.
If you're not on the cloud, if you have your own private servers, you there's no point doing auto scaling because you're just, you have your own servers. What's the point you have to, you have to deal with your own headroom and the public cloud. Yes. It's more efficient. And B it gives you the, just the potential.
Of of, of increasing utilization, but then it's moving to the managed services and that's when the conversation gets very, very tricky, because then you starting talking about a vendor, lock-in
Anne Currie: Yeah.
Asim Hussain: kinds of things. And I've had conversations with, with people, engineering, people who, who are in engineering organizations in kind of cloud providers.
You like build those managed services and they're like, look, if somebody look, if you want to be more effective, You have to use vent in a vendor specific services because that they are, they are making it more like the, the, the Microsoft service is incredibly efficient because the Microsoft engineers are building it for Microsoft platform and the Microsoft system.
But that's a Rudy for the longest time. That was the hardest sell in our space. It's like we are we trying to avoid.
Anne Currie: I, I think I would embrace. I embrace lock-in. I think the only way you get efficiency is through locking. If you do lift and shift into the cloud, really, I can't see how you get any benefit from it whatsoever. I think I suspect much more expensive and not really any more efficient, marginally, more efficient.
You have to use the service.
Asim Hussain: Less efficient as well. Yeah. because you're, you're, you're moving from one paradigm to another paradigm and there are differences fundamentally in the cloud.
Anne Currie: Yeah. Yeah. But the only thing that does is that once you have lifted and shifted, as you say, people are more likely to start comping off staff and using the managed services. So it's kind of a gateway drug lift and shift to the gateway drug
Asim Hussain: get into the cloud wherever you can get into the cloud. And then, and then, but then like, but then why, but then we back to that same challenge that we have, which is why, like, what are the motivating factors to, to them? Implementing change. I mean, you know
Anne Currie: Well, it used to be the big lie of lifted shift would save you a load of money. The cloud was cheap.
Asim Hussain: But then, but then even once you're in that, but w we need people to change and use more efficient services costs. Isn't a motivating factor by itself.
Anne Currie: But I would say by far the most, the most effective argument for getting people to use Monett managed services is zero ops. No ops. That, that, if you can say you could get rid of all of those, you know, you know, all those people in ops that you really don't like.
Because I have to say, I mean, I say I love ops people. I love well, because I'm
Asim Hussain: I love it. This is let's just make sure
Anne Currie: I took, I love off street mall, but most of the rest of the business always found them quite challenging.
Asim Hussain: Yeah. I actually started off my whole career. It's actually, now that I think about it. Yeah. So they go to SIS admin, we call CIS
Anne Currie: Well, you were very tool guy, people who are very tall, tend to, I find that it's opposite. It's full of people who quite tall. I think probably because in the old days you could lift machines around,
Asim Hussain: Yeah.
Anne Currie: never found any girls in all, because we all just went, can't lift this
Asim Hussain: Yeah, that's hard. Jars are so heavy and was bringing them up from, from four inches off the floor to eight inch. Oh, it was so hard.
Anne Currie: That's why there were no women.
Asim Hussain: They're all women
Anne Currie: And the cloud enabled women to answer ops because there's nothing to lift
Asim Hussain: It was literally lifted and shifted in,
Anne Currie: and deed. It was literally lift and shift, but yeah.
Asim Hussain: I forgot what we're talking about.
Anne Currie: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, how do you persuade people to the managed services? I think it's really all about look, you know, cause you don't have to fire, so you might want to fire ops people, but you don't have to fire ups people. You can, you can use them for develop the dev ops.
You can use them in fear of. And, and whoever is at your managed services or AWS managed services or Google managed services will do some of their work for them. And, and, and that's really, and then at the same time, you need to push Google as your AWS to make those services more green. So that at the same time, you're pushing that developer productivity by a backdoor.
You're also upping their green side of things that was more kind of Fairfield.
Asim Hussain: When you, what you're really saying is you're upping the ops productivity by dividing by a fewer number of numbers until you've reached zero. Which mathematically doesn't work anyway. So you're basically saying, is this the same argument you're saying like, we're going to increase your ops productivity.
We're going to increase as you're increasing your developer velocity. Like if you use a managed service, you increase the developer velocity. So basically it's, it's, it's it's, that seems to be one argument from our conversation. And it's the only argument that is of any importance ever in any developer situation, which is a developer productivity.
Anne Currie: Yeah.
Asim Hussain: And I felt that my felt, because I felt, I remember in my early years of my career, I've been in this space for 20, 20 odd years now. Yes. I graduated in the.com boom. So I was very lucky to get a job, uh, for university. That's just like, you have a job. And I even at that point, if you valuable to do things. And I, and I remember, I know there's been certain points throughout my career. It wasn't because it happened so slowly. It wasn't like one day something over so slowly. I was like, it just doesn't seem to be that important that I write anything efficiently anymore. And then, you know, I started off in C plus plus, and it just got less and less and less supported.
And in fact, my earlier the career was doing. now, I don't know what to call it now is great. Regionally grid computing. So high-performance computing. So like being very, very like super efficient servers were still pretty expensive in those days. So there was like, it was worthwhile investing some time from an ask him to make your code more efficient because the actual server costs would, would like don't micro save on the servers would like be less than an asset.
But now for some reason, it doesn't, it doesn't that that equation doesn't doesn't relate anymore. Is it? I think a, you know, our costs have skyrocketed, you know, B S cloud costs have gone down, but as a Jevons paradox argument, isn't it Cod costs have gone down. But also I think that there's also this kind of opportunity cost thing, which is what is this it's it's triggering.
The fear is that we could spend, we could spend an asset making it more efficient, or we could spend an asset in building another feature to be our competition.
Anne Currie: Yeah.
And it's, it's not just that. I think it's the, those, those complex languages. They, they were quite, it was quite, quite slow to develop.
Asim Hussain: mm.
Anne Currie: it just, yeah, it, now everybody wants it, this small thing out, out, out, out, out to see what happens and to be more interesting. And so bull Paul is dead. Most of these two work quite well with, with CNC plus plus, and yeah, nobody wants to do it cause I, I, there, you know, the dirty secrets of agile is it is not more efficient than waterfall.
If you can, if you can get all to full rights, if you, if you really have a clear idea about what you're doing. You can do it with quite a small number of engineers, quite cheaply. It takes you a long time and you don't get to any iteration on that. So if you were right first time, then great. If you've got it wrong from the start you're screwed.
Asim Hussain: I think agile, like if with waterfall, if you, if you, if you know what you're doing, if you know what you want to build, it works. Agile is like, I don't really know.
Anne Currie: Hmm
Asim Hussain: We're just responding to like requests, like trying to agile when you don't have a bunch of customer requests coming in as is doesn't really work.
I don't think. Yeah. w we've been quite negative. I think someone listening to this podcast might just like, Table flip and give up. I don't really know. Look, they want to ask what are the successes that we've
Anne Currie: The huge success. And there was an you and I both know that we did not necessarily see this coming was for the big three cloud providers to all commit to carbon zero operations by 2030 in 2020. We, because we've been pushing, I'm sure we'd both been pushing for this for a long time. Not really expecting it to happen.
And then suddenly. And that sets, that sets the timeline for everybody that says, look 2030, I expect your, your app, your applications, to be able to run carbon zero, which means. It's something that's that, that, that we need to discuss. What does, what does that mean? Does that mean that basically 90% of your CPU load is on carbon-free electricity and you can 10% maybe, maybe no more than that is running at times when this get, it has to be on fossil fuels.
Asim Hussain: I think my definition is a lot stricter, which means that it's it's it's it's it. I don't know how they're going to do it. My definition is like super strict. And what I do know is like, I think you're absolutely right. Like they, they, they, that that's been a wonderful success. The fact that the major cloud providers have not only committed to that, but also they provided the vault now very, very new, shorter provided measurement tools, you know, which is very, very impressive.
What's interesting about that is that every to achieve that goal every single year, you need to make incremental improvements and you know, all the low-hanging fruits. So, like, I won't say like, people are like really thinking extremely hard, you know, next year, you know, we, we committed to this, what, what do we need to do now to make that happen?
And the wonderful things about public commitments is that they're public.
Anne Currie: Yeah.
Asim Hussain: like, you're like, I don't want to make it out. I don't want to, I don't want to say we failed is a big driving, driving factor for that. So, Yeah.
So that's been a big success.
Anne Currie: Th that there was, there was a really interesting paper from Goebel. I know that you've read this paper, the paper from. In June last year saying, okay, how will the hell are we going to do this? But they say, we CA they can know how to do this on their own workloads. They look, and they can do it on the word workloads by introducing more time shifting, but the public cloud, because it's all black boxes to them.
But then really that, what you're saying then is you need instance types, the main things that aren't, aren't that things aren't black boxes anymore. So.
Asim Hussain: Price signals.
Anne Currie: it, yes. I'd say sports instances, instances with some degree of SLA, which is not quite as, as on demand, as you know, let's get rid of those on demand service and the lift and shift and move everything over towards containers.
Whether look, you know, I'll, I'll run it within 10 minutes, but I'm not going to run it within 10 seconds.
Asim Hussain: Yeah, but they also have to like, cause I mean it's for a net zero target by 2050, they have to have eliminated 90% of the image. And that's in a world where we've probably quadrupled 10 times grown by 20, 20, 20 50. And so that kind of like, yeah. Yeah. So yeah, you're right. Setting. Those kinds of targets is, is really, really important.
And I, and I was going to say like, one of the things that I've seen successes internally is soon as soon as your organization sets a target that helps you and proposing prep pre. Why would they need this whole grace and favor? Once you've got a target, then you can say, well, Hey, you know, you're that target you set, but you're starting to lose a little bit of hair over because you're going to like have to, well, if we were to do X, it can maybe meet, not 0.2% of your target, whatever, you know, and if enough people do that, that's enough.
So I think that's kind of you're right. Those companies setting targets is one of the big things is one of the big things. And, and, and I think that's one of the first steps. If you, if you, if you work in an organization that hasn't set a target. Forget about trying to push any green software work. Your first job is to, is to advocate internally and do what you need to do to get your company to set target.
Anne Currie: Yeah. And, and set a target for a long enough distance in the future that all the executives think they'll have left by then
Asim Hussain: because you're right.
Anne Currie: managers know they might be around that's where middle managers who I'm good. So they tend to be here in 10 years. I'm going to have to meet that target. That's why middle managers stop things happening.
Asim Hussain: Oh, I love, I just, I just got your point because if they're going to be leaving, then they're willing to set a target as someone else has to. Yeah, yeah,
Anne Currie: the cuteness of setting the target without any of the pain of meeting the target.
Asim Hussain: a, It's like a musical Chaz, like whoever's, who's the CEO left of the table when they've got to get to get to zero. Yeah, absolutely.
Absolutely. So I think, I think, I think those, those bold aggressive targets and kind of any, any internal advocacy you can get to kind of push those targets, upwards is, is, is, is one of the big thing, big successes, I think like, well, I have seen a lot of, I've seen a big sea change since January last year, a big change in the number of.
People customers, people just, just asking about this question, which is like, Hey, I've got this software. Like, what do I do to make it greener? Like, just asking that question is, is, has been coming up a lot and that's going to that's one of the things we've been trying to do in the foundation is just try and get some answers together for that.
You know, what is the advice that people have for that? So I am incredibly infused over the last, because I've been in the space of craft for years as well in the first couple of years. What do I have to do? The last, the last year has been very, very exciting because of all the other, you know, it felt like vindicates and validated.
A lot of other people who care about this, I'm asking those right questions. There's been a lot of interest in that space. I just don't think we have a lot of great answers yet working
Anne Currie: It's an interesting gods. In some ways we dealt once, once today's questions. Cause we want people to ask those questions of their providers. So that they know that there is interest. We want people to be saying, how do I do this? Where is my green region? How, what's your plan for making the regional I'm already hosting in green.
Asim Hussain: but then they're all competent, but then everybody's joining the foundation and going, well now let's, now let's figure out the answers to these questions. So I think that's that, that, that, that's what Sonos, and I think kind of one of the things I, I found one of the most impactful things that I've personally done and I you've done it as well.
And a lot of people have done it is. Talking about this stuff is educating teaching, training, making people aware of it, making people. I remember I was speaking at a conference. I won't say where I was speaking at a conference last late last year. And it was, it wasn't like a tech conference was more general purpose sustainability conference.
And there were a bunch of people giving talks and I gave my talk and the feedback I got afterwards is people coming up to me going, wow, you know, you're the first person who's talking about solutions. Everybody else is talking about, you know, oh wait, where we're all death destruction. It's all doing the problems much worse than we think.
And I'm like, well, I don't have time for that anymore. It's this? I've heard it all before. Well, the solution is like, what are the things? And I think that's kind of where we are. We're in that even what you just described right now, like we're talking to cloud providers, that's one solution and we're now we're kind of talking about other ones, like finding other solutions and just talking about it. Yeah.
Anne Currie: Yeah. And decide. We'd love to know, have to decide to, to act and they have to act. So, you know, we, we. Making sure they know, but we also have to pitch the no in a way that they will decide to act. So if you say, Ooh, you need to know about this. It's going to cost you a fortune and it's going to reduce your developer productivity.
They will not decide to act. So you need to frame it in a way that they'll go, okay. Well that sounds doable. I could decide to act on that.
Asim Hussain: Yeah.
Anne Currie: So that's the next thing is. Um, how do we make it? So it doesn't acting doesn't immediately blow away all our, actually that thing, the metrics that they're actually already measured on.
Asim Hussain: Yeah. And I think that that might be how we, how we end this podcast, like with like a question, uh, relevant, but yeah, that's been a really refund chat, I should say. And I hope, I don't know if it's, I don't know how useful this, this conversation is to other people, but I found out a lot of fun.
Anne Currie: What was I was, I think that was good. I think it was good.
Asim Hussain: Okay.
Wonderful. So, thanks for listening to Environment Variables, all the resources for this podcast, including links to our guests and more about, well, the topics that we discussed as well as the Green Software Foundation are in the show description below. We hope you enjoyed the show and see you on the next one.

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