Eureka! New tech shrinks cloud computing's carbon footprint

Computer scientists say they have created the algorithms needed to make both public and private cloud computing greener

Want to reduce carbon emissions from cloud computing? A bunch of algorithms developed by computer scientists at Trinity College Dublin and IBM Research in Dublin can help reduce the carbon cost of cloud computing, the researchers claim.

The algorithms, collectively called Stratus, can model a worldwide network of connected data centers and predict how best to use them to keep carbon emissions low. However, they also carry off the necessary computing and deliver the required data.

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"For the simulation, the scientists modeled a scenario inspired by Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) data center setup that incorporated three key variables: carbon emissions, cost of electricity, and the time needed for computation and data transfer on a network. Amazon EC2 has data centers in Ireland and the U.S. states of Virginia and California, so the experimental model placed data centers there too, and it used queries from 34 sources in different parts of Europe, Canada, and the United States as tests," according to the IEEE Sprectrum report on the research.

The researchers used the Stratus algorithms to optimize the workings of the network for any of several variables, including carbon emissions, cost of electricity, and the time needed for computation and data transfer on a network. Using the algorithms, they were able to reduce the EC2 cloud's emissions by 21 percent compared to common approaches for balancing computing loads. The key to gaining more efficiency was routing requests to the Irish data center more than to those in California or Virginia; the Ireland-based cloud servers were faster and, thus, used less power and generated fewer emissions.

I'm not sure that's earth-shattering research, but the notion of gaining efficiency by using better load-management algorithms is a goal we should always work toward. It's great to see some real solutions to cloud computing's carbon emissions, especially given the dubious "green" claims made by cloud providers today.

This article, "Eureka! New tech shrinks cloud computing's carbon footprint," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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