February 15, 2024

Navigating the Path to Application Sustainability in the Kubernetes Era

Amir Banet
CEO & Co-Founder

Kubernetes has emerged as a fundamental tool for deploying and managing applications at scale. This technology not only streamlines operations, but also holds the potential for promoting carbon-friendly applications. Its capacity for granular resource allocation and dynamic scaling to match demand fluctuations is a significant stride towards environmental responsibility.

However, the reality of Kubernetes environments is not without challenges. As these environments grow exponentially, maintaining their efficiency becomes increasingly complex. The scaling of the overall application footprint, though beneficial for business operations, often leads to inefficient resource utilization. This inefficiency, in turn, results in excessive carbon emissions, contradicting the initial sustainable promise of Kubernetes.

Application Sustainability is Becoming Mandatory

The technological advancements of Kubernetes, while offering efficiency in cloud computing, also present a notable challenge in carbon emissions management. The environmental impact of these technological choices is becoming crucial for businesses focused on efficiency and scalability. The increasing complexity of Kubernetes environments makes it imperative to not only acknowledge, but actively manage their carbon footprint.

An MIT Research Commission Report reveals that the carbon footprint from cloud computing  surpasses that of the airline industry. Tightening carbon emission regulations and the corporate drive for sustainability have made understanding the carbon footprint in Kubernetes environments crucial. This need for transparency in carbon emissions highlights a growing trend towards sustainable technology, aligning with predictions that executive compensation will soon be linked to sustainable technology impact.

The emergence of GreenOps, an integration of sustainability considerations into FinOps practices, reflects this shift towards environmental responsibility. It demonstrates a trend toward more visibility and accountability for companies when it comes to environmental impact—emphasizing the importance in transparency in carbon emissions and sustainable technology practices in the corporate world. 

The Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi)

Another widespread effort, the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi), offers a crucial framework for companies aiming to reduce carbon emissions in line with the latest climate science. This initiative is becoming increasingly relevant as businesses are held accountable for their environmental impact. Over 4,300 businesses across regions and industries have set emissions reduction targets grounded in climate science through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Participation in the SBTi not only demonstrates a company's commitment to sustainable practices but also enhances transparency and accountability in their environmental stewardship. It provides tools and guidance to understand and effectively manage carbon footprints, setting meaningful, impactful goals that contribute to global efforts in combating climate change. This approach aligns with a growing trend where corporate responsibility and sustainability are integral to business strategies and even linked to executive compensation.

Understanding Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Scopes 1, 2, and 3, with a Focus on Kubernetes

Categorizing emissions helps companies understand their total carbon footprint and develop targeted strategies for reduction, crucial for sustainable operations.

Scope 1: Direct emissions

  • Emissions from sources owned or controlled by the company, such as fuel combustion in company vehicles or boilers.

Scope 2: Indirect emissions from purchased energy

  • This includes emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, heat, or steam. Kubernetes, as a cloud computing platform, primarily falls under this category, considering the energy used in data centers where Kubernetes clusters are hosted.

Scope 3: Other indirect emissions

  • Emissions occurring in the company's value chain, encompassing both upstream and downstream activities.

How DevOps and FinOps Teams Can Help Improve Application Sustainability

DevOps and FinOps teams play a crucial role in enhancing application sustainability. This process involves a structured, stepped approach, each step presenting its unique challenges:


Understanding the total environmental impact of applications is the first step. In highly distributed, multi-cloud environments, accurately assessing the carbon footprint and resource usage of Kubernetes (K8s) applications becomes challenging. The complexity of these environments often obscures a clear view of emissions. Additionally, concerns about the accuracy of carbon data provided by cloud providers, such as AWS, further complicate this visibility. It’s essential to have reliable sources and methods for measuring K8s CO2 emissions to address this issue effectively.


Once visibility is established, the next step is to reduce emissions through optimization. Optimizing to reduce emissions post-visibility poses unique challenges. Companies often receive only high-level data about their environments, making it difficult to identify specific areas for effective carbon efficiency. There is a risk that optimizing for lower emissions might impact application performance. The key is to find opportunities for emission reduction that also maintain application stability and resilience, ensuring optimization doesn't compromise functionality.

In the Kubernetes world, you can optimize your carbon footprint at three environmental layers:

1. Right-size your workloads: Assess the resources allocated to your workloads, identify over-provisioned areas, and eliminate waste. While this may not directly reduce your carbon footprint, it creates opportunities to downsize infrastructure, which can lead to reductions.

2. Evaluate your infrastructure: This step directly impacts your carbon emissions. Consider several factors:

  • Amount and size of machines: With right-sized workloads, you'll have a clearer understanding of your resource needs. This insight allows you to reduce the number of nodes or modify node sizes for better carbon efficiency.
  • Node types: Different nodes, even of similar sizes, can have varying carbon emissions. Newer machines are often more efficient with lower carbon outputs. By gaining detailed insights into your environment, you can evaluate the carbon footprint of each node type and choose the ones that minimize emissions.

3. Consider the data center layer: Carbon emissions vary significantly among cloud providers and within their data center regions. While a full migration to a more eco-friendly data center might not be practical, understanding this layer can inform your growth strategy, helping you scale in an environmentally conscious manner.

Alignment and governance

The final step involves aligning application development and operations with corporate sustainability goals through policies and governance. The primary challenge here is the cultural shift required within organizations. Incentivizing teams to meet carbon goals is a key strategy. However, without clear visibility and identified optimization opportunities, achieving these goals can be challenging. It’s crucial to establish a framework that promotes a culture of continuous improvement in sustainability practices, acknowledging and addressing these challenges.

When setting internal policies on carbon emissions, start by aligning with local government regulations. This approach helps you avoid penalties for excessive carbon emissions and might also offer incentives, such as Carbon Credits, for surpassing standards. Keep in mind that carbon regulations often change. Regularly updating your policies ensures compliance with the latest standards.

By acknowledging and addressing these challenges, DevOps and FinOps teams can significantly contribute to creating more sustainable applications, aligning technological advancements with environmental responsibility.

Powering Sustainability: Partner with PerfectScale

PerfectScale merges sustainability with stability in Kubernetes environments. Our platform provides a vital solution for addressing the dual challenges of reducing carbon footprint and maintaining application performance. By enabling businesses to visualize, track, and actively reduce the carbon footprint of Kubernetes clusters, without compromising on their applications' resilience and availability, PerfectScale is providing businesses with balance and clarity in vast and often opaque carbon emissions guidelines.

Our platform empowers informed decision-making, offering insights that facilitate optimizing cloud resources. This optimization does not just focus on reducing emissions; it also ensures that performance and stability are maintained. With PerfectScale, companies can confidently transition towards more sustainable applications, knowing that their operational integrity is preserved. In cloud technology, where environmental management is important, PerfectScale offers a proactive approach. We ensure that your efforts to reduce the overall carbon impact of cloud infrastructure do not come at the expense of application performance.

We invite businesses to join the movement towards sustainable technology by using our platform. Our comprehensive analysis and recommendations provide a clear understanding of environmental impact and identify improvement opportunities for your team. This approach allows companies to strike an optimal balance between ecological responsibility and business efficiency—ensuring that sustainability and stability can meet seamlessly.

To learn more about PerfectScale's Carbon Emission Visibility, book a session with our optimization specialists today.

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What does the shift to application sustainability and environmental responsibility mean in the Kubernetes era? In this article, we dive into the topic, with tips to align DevOps and FinOps for a sustainable future.
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