What is Green Cloud?
Green Cloud is a remotely hosted ICT server-based service delivery model, which uses the Internet for service access, and is directly and indirectly environmentally and health neutral in all aspects of its operation.
- Green Cloud services are deployed through devices and installations that are environmentally and health neutral in construction.
- Green Cloud devices and installations are made from minerals and other resources that are environmentally and health neutral in terms of their extraction and during their recycling, recovery of reusable elements, and disposal.
The Pros and Cons of Green Cloud
Ten or so years ago it was relatively uncontroversial to claim that data centres had a negative impact on the environment (Berl et al, 2009). It was then predicted that growth in energy consumption would reach 100 TWh in 2020. In fact, it is now estimated that global data centre energy consumption is 200 TWh (Jones N, 2018). More recently, however, despite the clear underestimation back in 2009, the impact of data centres on the future environment has become hotly contested, with some researchers continuing to maintain the negative impact analysis (Andrae, 2020), and other researchers creating a more positive dialogue (Masanet et al, 2020). The main area of contention seems to be in the area of the potential for energy efficient systems of all kinds to be developed, with the negative impact adherents predicting that the likelihood of energy efficient systems being developed in the short to medium term as being low, while the positive impact adherents predicting exactly the opposite situation. Only time will tell which group is right; however, both agree that work in this area is important and should continue, and that policy around Green ICT should be strengthened.
What are the Main Challenges related to Green Cloud?
HORIZON CLOUD identified the following main challenges related to Green Cloud Computing:
- The data centre energy efficiency standards landscape is weak.
We should develop energy efficiency standards for Europe, in Europe. Start from the KPIs that already exist but choose them wisely as some are no longer fit for purpose. [Research and Deployment]
- ICT devices need to be used for longer periods to better amortize their environmental impacts when they were constructed. They also need to embrace processors which can turn down their performance (and energy consumption) when appropriate. Electronic device recycling needs to be taken up far more extensively and manufacturers should make it easier to wipe old devices. Ensure the right to repair. [Research and Deployment]
- The manner in which the natural world is being exploited to satisfy the demand for digital devices and services is alarming. We need to find more efficient ways of storing and processing data, or to invent completely new ways of storing and processing data.
- The distribution of processing through federation and/or migration to the edge counters the environmentally-beneficial trends toward processing centralised in the Cloud (particularly in hyperscale data centres). The environmental impacts of billions of edge/IoT devices and the wireless/cellular networks required to connect to them are not well understood, making it difficult to develop environmentally-sensible policies around edge
computing. [Policy, Research]
- The way in which policy making, in the digital context, impacts the Green Deal needs to be considered right at the start of any policy development process. [Policy]
- The impact of specific ICT activities on the environment is poorly understood. ICT manufacturers should audit and report upon the environmental impact of the manufacture and operation of their goods and services. Data centre and network operators should report their energy consumption and environmental footprint in a way that enables citizens and ICT users alike to understand the environmental impacts of their ICT choices, and governments and policy-makers to encourage environmentally aware decisions. Possible changes in the environmental footprint of the ICT sector should be projected based on this more detailed data, enabling timely mitigation of potentially harmful increases, whether coming from video streaming, edge computing, gaming, AI or any other ICT-related initiative. [Research, Policy]
(1) Berl, A et al (2009) Energy-Efficient Cloud Computing, in The Computer Journal, Vol 53, Iss 7, PP 1045-1051. Print ISSN
0010-4620. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1093/comjnl/bxp080
(2) Jones N (2018) How to stop data centres from gobbling up the world’s electricity. Nature.
(3) Andrae A (2020) New perspectives on internet electricity use in 2030, Eng. Appl. Sci. Lett. 2020, 3(2), 19-31
(4) Masanet E, Shehabi A, Lei N, Smith S, Koomey J (2020). Recalibrating global data center energy-use estimates. Science,
2020; 367 (6481): 984 DOI: 10.1126/science.aba3758)