Sustainability of IT. Sustainability by IT.

Last week I wrote about the inherent connection of Sustainability and IT and why digitalization should be at the heart of every Sustainability effort.
Today I want to go into more detail of the two dimensions of

  1. Sustainability of IT.
  2. Sustainability by IT.

Sustainability of IT.

You may have heard of the term „Green-IT“ which origins somewhere from the 90s. IT all started with the ’92 established Energy-Star label, introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The label promoted and made energy efficient monitors and other hardware more recognizable. For example, the sometimes better or worse working „Sleep-Mode“ was adopted by more and more hardware producers and OS developers as a prerequisite to get the label. Today you may have seen the Swedish TCO label on the back of your monitor which stands for low magnetic and electric emissions.
Whilst these labels cover the hardware side of Green IT, on the software side we don’t have any certifications or labels yet.
On that side though lies significant high leverage, as there is an analogy to your driving style:

  • the hardware is your car – you want to have that working efficiently
  • the software is your driving style: your car might consume 3l at 80km/h – if you take it to 200km/h it will consume exponentially more.

Besides having no label, there though are several initiatives and principles on how to write and operate efficient software. For example using hashed or indexed algorithms for search is much more efficient than using linear ones.

Another high, but rarely recognized leverage, lies in the retirement of software. As a study by the German Bundesamt for Environment in 2019 laid out, about 30% of software installed in datacenters is not being used. All tough latest studies show, that the effectiveness of datacenters during recent years improved drastically due to high effective coolings and more and more switching to green energy, we are talking an estimated total co2 emission of roughly 900 billion kilograms here (2018 Pearce) which is about the global aviation industry (pre Corona, Air Transport Action Group 2020). Reducing that by 30% is a lot.

As sustainability is not only about emissions and energy consumption but about decent work and economic growth, reducing risks of software-hacks and data-loss is a further essential goal to be achieved by software retirement.

Sustainability by IT

There are a lot of examples in which IT helps Sustainability efforts of organizations:

  1. Reducing emissions for business travel through virtual meetings
  2. Proving a transparent supply chain by using blockchain technology
  3. Reducing poverty by enabling internet access in 3rd world countries and teaching development skills

Though IT and digitalization can add a lot to reach SDG goals and are a key driver, one has to be aware of the drawbacks:

  1. Digital platforms can lead to alienation and loneliness
  2. Training Algorithms can be tricky and lead to faulty, discriminating results
  3. IT for itself is not sufficient: business-processes have to have people in their focus, have to serve the people with purpose

In this article I tried to lay out the two different aspects of IT and Sustainability. I hope you liked it and I am happy to find out about your opinion to IT, Digitalization and Sustainability.

References
Pearce, F. (2018). “Energy Hogs: Can World’s Huge Data Centers Be Made More Efficient?” Yale Environment 360, April 3rd, Https://E360.Yale.edu/Features/Energy-Hogs-Can-Huge-Data-Centers-Be-Made-More-Efficient
Air Transport Action Group (2020). Facts And Figures. Https://Www.atag.org/Facts-Figures.html

Setup your mac – the zero touch way

My 2017 MacBook Pro was getting slower over the time, and with everything in my Dropbox and in the iCloud backup, I dared to do a fresh install. I read about scripting your MacBook setup a while ago, so the nerd in me went down that road – and we went well.

With the help of „brew“ and „mas“ I put together a setup a bash script, which sets up your Mac nearly zero touch. and here it goes:

  1. We start with checking, if the script has already run.
#!/usr/bin/env bash

if [ -f ~/.osx-bootstrapped.txt ]; then
  cat << EOF
~/.osx-bootstrapped.txt FOUND!
This laptop has already been bootstrapped
Exiting. No changes were made.
EOF
  exit 0
fi

2. We are going to install brew, for some of the essential apps

# Install Brew
if [[ ${BREWINSTALLED} == "" ]]; then
  echo "Installing Brew"
  ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"
fi

3. Now these are the apps I like to set up. You’ll find a list over at brews.

#Required App
brew tap homebrew/cask
brew install mas
brew install --cask google-chrome
brew install --cask slack
brew install --cask spotify
brew install --cask rectangle
brew install --cask tunnelblick

4. You’ll notice, I’ve installed „mas“ – with mas you can connect to the AppStore via CLI – very useful for this case.
>> mas list – lists your current installed apps
>> mas search Remote searches the AppStore for all apps containing „remote“ in it. For the script, you need the IDs of the apps.

mas install 405399194
mas install 1418401222
mas install 1484348796
mas install 747648890
mas install 1333542190
mas install 443987910
mas install 1437501942
mas install 504700302
mas install 1147396723
mas install 824183456
mas install 1295203466
mas install 803453959
mas install 1444383602
mas install 462054704
mas install 462058435
mas install 462062816
mas install 985367838

Now you know my apps being installed 😉

5. I love oh-my-zsh, so its lastly being installed:

if [ ! -d ~/.oh-my-zsh ]; then
    sh -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/master/tools/install.sh)"
    rm ~/.zshrc
    ln -s $CURRDIR/zshrc-config ~/.zshrc
fi

6. Create the final file, so we know we did it.

touch ~/.osx-bootstrapped.txt

Final thoughts:

  • The MacBook feels much faster again. And battery consumption went down significantly . Even the error message for the battery went away
  • iCloud sync takes ages: accounts and keychain are still not completely synced, even after 3 hours. The come, tough, bit by bit. But it takes patience.
  • I restarted the MacBook in beginning , holding down „command + r“ and used the disk erase utility to erase the main disk
  • Office 365 didn’t install via mas – I had to do that manually.
  • put the final bash file somewhere into the cloud like dropbox, so that you can download and start it after you’ve erased your MacBook

Odoo als ERP für SMB’s

Seit ein paar Jahren nutzen wir bei Aporia in unseren Portfolios Odoo ERP – ein WebBased OpenSource ERP System, basierend auf python und postgres. Odoo ist der Nachfolger des alten OpenERP und hat auch einen kommerziellen Arm, der sich vorwiegend durch Hosted solutions und premium plugins sowie Support finanziert. Im kostenfreien Community-Paket sind allerdings schon eine Menge Features enthalten, mit denen man ein kleines Unternehmen aufziehen kann. Dazu gehören:

  1. Hübsche Website-Funktionalitäten mit Basis-Shopfunktion
  2. Angebots-, Auftrags- und Rechnungsmanagement
  3. Lagerhaltung und Logistik (DropShipping, Streckengeschäfte)
  4. Marketing Module wie Customer-Segmentation Building und Email- Campaigns.
  5. unfassbar viele Module mehr

Durch die Erweiterbarkeit über Module („Apps“) ist die Anzahl der auch durch die Community eingebrachten Funktionalitäten schier endlos und durch die Plug-In Architektur sauber gekapselt. Das ist auch der Hauptgrund, warum wir Odoo schon seit 6 Jahren in Produktion nutzen.

Inzwischen ist allerdings viel Wasser den Rhein heruntergeflossen und wir sind aktuell bei Version 14 – wir selber nutzten bisher noch die 7er.

Hier also ein Quick-Installation Guide, wie Ihr Odoo 14 auf einer AWS EC2 Instanz installiert.

  1. Eine T2.Micro (free tier möglich) AWS Instanz genügt, Ubuntu 20-x image
  2. Setzt die Scurity Group auf ports 80, 443 und 22. Der mitgebrachte NGINX sorgt dafür, dass der Odoo Server auf http und https ausliefert
  3. Es gibt hier ein schönes Install Script, das ihr Euch herunterladen könnt.
  4. Bevor Ihr das Install-Script ausführt, solltet Ihr die folgenden Parameter anpassen:
    1. INSTALL_WKHTMLTOPDF = False
    2. OE_SUPERADMIN = EUER-PASSWORD
    3. INSTALL_NGINX = True
    4. WEBSITE_NAME = WWW.YOURSITE.COM
    5. ENABLE_SSL = true (installiert automatisch Certbot für SSL Zertifikate)
  5. Bei der Installation wird WKHTMLTODPF nicht / nicht sauber installiert – da ihr das in der Version 0.12.5-1 benötigt, ladet das Paket hier herunter und installiert es manuell.  WKHTMLTOPDF wird benötigt, wenn Ihr z.B. Rechnungen als PDF erzeugen wollt.
  6. WICHTIG: Odoo bietet ein „seltsames Feature“ im Standard an, nämlich das Backup oder Löschen von Datenbanken via Login Screen. Das Feature deaktiviert ihr, indem Ihr in die /etc/odoo-server

    list_db = False eintragt. Danach natürlich den odoo Service neu starten.

Bonus:

Für ein ziemlich einfaches aber hocheffektives DB Backup, gibt es das AutoPostGreSQLBackup Script von k0lter, inkl:

  1. Email notification
  2. Compression
  3. Encryption
  4. Rotation
  5. Databases exclusion
  6. Pre and Post scripts

Einfach in ein Verzeichnis konfigurieren und via rsync in ein offsite repository spiegeln.

Why I’m still on wordpress

It all started with movabletype in 2003, then went to typepad and finally WordPress – now for more than 10 years. Fred today posted that he sticks to Worpress. And I can feel with him. It feels home:

  1. WordPress runs on my own machine
  2. The data is mine, its not instagrams‘, faebooks‘ or twitters‘
  3. I am in control
  4. It’s so much fun to tweak, add plugins, remove them, build pipelines, removing them.

 

Digital-Transformation and sustainability: a natural tag team.

It all started with Digitization: when the first Electronic Mail was sent nearly 60 years ago at MIT, a silent revolution enfolded: Digitization meant the transition from analog data (often represented in wave-based technology) to a very simple concept: on or off, zero or one, abstracted in a binary layer.
But Digitization was just about the data. With Digitalization it was about the processes, so how the data is flowing through organizations.
Now Digital Transformation is about the purpose of the organization itself. It‘s about people, customers, employees, added value – and their interactions. It’s strategy first, technology second.

Fig. 1: from Digitization to Digital Transformation

As a MIT Research study shows, digital transformed companies are about 26% more profitable then the norm. A PWC research says, that 80% of CEOs think, that „the production technology their companies use, will change in the next five years“. That’s why its common sense nowadays, that digital transformation is at the heart of every organization that wants to succeed in the future.

The electric light did not come from the continuous improvement of candles.

Oren Harari

When an IT powered Digitalization is at the very heart of an organization, a Sustainable Transformation Strategy also has to be driven by IT, has to understand Digital Transformation. This means, not only IT itself has to sustainable (often labelled GreenIT), but sustainability has to be driven by digital technologies.

Fig 2: Sustainability of and by IT

As in the process of Digital Transformation, most organizations are still on the first steps of the road to a Sustainable Transformation Strategy. GRI powered reports are mostly a mere greenwashing PR tool than a real change strategy. IT is being used to fuel these reports – but its transformational power has not been unleashed yet. When it comes to implementation of sustainability strategies into organizations, Digital-Transformation and Sustainability are natural allies, which can enfold superpowers.

GDPR related fines have risen significantly. And thats good.

In a panel discussion this week, I was arguing with the great Tom Moran wether GDPR in Europe was being properly pursued by regulators. My thesis was, that officials will offer an unofficial 5 year transition period (that would be until 2023) until when fines will really be enforced. Now ft reports, fines have risen 40% in the last year, which underpins my thesis.

And this is a good thing. Why?

Not going too much into detail, but I’m a fan of GDPR (and no, not of the stupid cookie-banner-hell). In short, GDPR consists of a whole stack of

  1. Organizational-
  2. Technical- and
  3. Accountability regulations.

Especially (3) is important, as it shifts accountability from consumers to companies. Done right, GDPR can bring huge competitive advantage to companies and organizations, as trust an transparency is on the rise in consumer demand. The higher the trust, the

  1. longer the customer stays with your company,
  2. the customer adds data / assets to our company

leading to a higher customer live time value. And that is sustainable.

So why is enforcing GDPR law a good thing and the rise in fines a good signal? When there’s a new law in town, enforcing can be a hard thing. Law-suits will become daily business. That the fines are rising now says, that officials become more sure, to be on the winning side. And therefore we, the customer, too.

Brave now supports IPFS

Brave, a security focused Webbrowser, now as first browser supports the IPfS protocol, meaning that it can display webpages on a peer-to-peer network. The Internet‘s basic http Protocol normally relies on central servers which serve the content to your browser: eg. this Website runs on a Webserver hosted by mighty networks. Peer-to-Peer protocols (remember BitTorrent) work as a distributed system much like Bitcoin does and thus are more reliable and resilient than central servers. Peer-to-peer Technology is also based on the idea of shared resources, being much more performant and thus sustainable than single user systems. IPFS also points in the area of Accessibility: distributed systems can’t be restricted by central firewalls and so serve information free float and speech especially in areas with governmental restricted internet access.

Keine WLAN Probleme mehr – mit MESH

Unser Haus ist ein Irrgarten: bestehend aus zwei Teilen von 1890 und Mitte der 1970er, ist es auf ca. 220qm verwinkelt mit 2 Treppenhäusern und in L Form. Ich hatte bisher immer Probleme, alle Bereiche mit vernünftig starkem WLAN zu erreichen. Eine Airport Extreme und eine Airport Express hatten Mühe, wirklich auch die letzen Winkel auszuleuchten.

Dann habe ich über MESH Technologie gelesen. MESH kann man sich vorstellen, wie ein intelligentes WLAN Mgmt., das selber entschiedet, zu welchem Access-Punkt man gerade die beste Verbindung hat. Darüber hinaus sind MESH Systeme in der Lage, Frequenz-Bänder zu bündeln und sich selber über mehrere Access-Points hinweg zu organisieren.

Da ich früher schon einmal Geräte von TP-Link im Einsatz hatte und eigentlich immer zufrieden war, habe ich mich für das DECO System von TP-Link entschieden.

Das DECO von TP-Link. Hübsch issues auch noch.

Die Einrichtung ist easy: mit der entsprechenden App die man sich runterlädt, startet man mit der Basisstation, die an den Router per Kabel angeschlossen wird. Danach folgt das Setup der Satelliten. Beachten sollte man bei der Positionierung der Satelliten, dass sie einen vernünftig starken Empfang zur Basisstation haben. Dies sagt einem die App aber auch direkt beim Setup.
Was mir dabei nicht so gut gefällt ist, dass man dafür einen Account bei TP-Link erstellen muss und ich vermute, dass dort in einem Cloud Service auch Verbindungsdaten abgelegt werden. Eigentlich muss sowas ja nicht sein.
Das Ergebnis allerdings hat mich überzeugt: Das WLAN steht nun überall im Haus mit vernünftiger Signalstärke zur Verfügung und das bei sehr geringer Latenz. So komme ich fast überall auf mindestens 50 MBit bei fast.com bei einer 100er Leitung.

Sauberer Durchsatz.

Alles in allem bin ich also zufrieden. Ich habe mein „altes“ WLAN aber noch nicht deaktiviert, sondern lasse beide ersteinmal parallel laufen, auch wenn darunter die Leistung leidet durch die Frequenzüberschneidungen.