Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Research Program

Greening clouds

The ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) ecosystem now approaches 5% of world electricity consumption and this ICT energy use will continue to grow fast because of the information appetite of Big Data, large networks and large infrastructures as Clouds that unavoidably leads to large power.

Smart grids and clouds

We propose exploiting Smart Grid technologies to come to the rescue of energy-hungry Clouds. Unlike in traditional electrical distribution networks, where power can only be moved and scheduled in very limited ways, Smart Grids dynamically and effectively adapt supply to demand and limit electricity losses (currently 10% of produced energy is lost during transmission and distribution).

For instance, when a user submits a Cloud request (such as a Google search for instance), it is routed to a data center that processes it, computes the answer and sends it back to the user. Google owns several data centers spread across the world and for performance reasons, the center answering the user's request is more likely to be the one closest to the user. However, this data center may be less energy efficient. This request may have consumed less energy, or a different kind of energy (renewable or not), if it had been sent to this further data center. In this case, the response time would have been increased but maybe not noticeably: a different trade-off between quality of service (QoS) and energy-efficiency could have been adopted.

While Clouds come naturally to the rescue of Smart Grids for dealing with this big data issue, little attention has been paid to the benefits that Smart Grids could bring to distributed Clouds. To our knowledge, no previous work has exploited the Smart Grids potential to obtain and control the energy consumption of entire Cloud infrastructures from underlying facilities such as air conditioning equipment (which accounts for 30% to 50% of a data center's electricity bill) to network resources (which are often operated by several actors) and to computing resources (with their heterogeneity and distribution across multiple data centers). We aim at taking advantage of the opportunity brought by the Smart Grids to exploit renewable energy availability and to optimize energy management in distributed Clouds.

Energy cost models

Cloud computing allows users to outsource the computer resources required for their applications instead of using a local installation. It offers on-demand access to the resources through the Internet with a pay-as-you-go pricing model.However, this model hides the electricity cost of running these infrastructures.

The costs of current data centers are mostly driven by their energy consumption (specifically by the air conditioning, computing and networking infrastructures). Yet, current pricing models are usually static and rarely consider the facilities' energy consumption per user. The challenge is to provide a fair and predictable model to attribute the overall energy costs per virtual machine and to increase energy-awareness of users.

Another goal consists in better understanding the energy consumption of computing and networking resources of Clouds in order to provide energy cost models for the entire infrastructure including incentivizing cost models for both Cloud providers and energy suppliers. These models will be based on experimental measurement campaigns on heterogeneous devices. Inferring a cost model from energy measurements is an arduous task since simple models are not convincing, as shown in our previous work. We aim at proposing and validating energy cost models for the heterogeneous Cloud infrastructures in one hand, and the energy distribution grid on the other hand. These models will be integrated into simulation frameworks in order to validate our energy-efficient algorithms at larger scale.

Energy-aware users

In a moderately loaded Cloud, some servers may be turned off when not used for energy saving purpose. Cloud providers can apply resource management strategies to favor idle servers. Some of the existing solutions propose mechanisms to optimize VM scheduling in the Cloud. A common solution is to consolidate the mapping of the VMs in the Cloud by grouping them in a fewer number of servers. The unused servers can then be turned off in order to lower the global electricity consumption.

Indeed, current work focuses on possible levers at the virtual machine suppliers and/or services. However, users are not involved in the choice of using these levers while significant energy savings could be achieved with their help. For example, they might agree to delay slightly the calculation of the response to their applications on the Cloud or accept that it is supported by a remote data center, to save energy or wait for the availability of renewable energy. The VMs are black boxes from the Cloud provider point of view. So, the user is the only one to know the applications running on her VMs.

We plan to explore possible collaborations between virtual machine suppliers, service providers and users of Clouds in order to provide users with ways of participating in the reduction of the Clouds energy consumption. This work will follow two directions: 1) to investigate compromises between power and performance/service quality that cloud providers can offer to their users and to propose them a variety of options adapted to their workload; and 2) to develop mechanisms for each layer of the Cloud software stack to provide users with a quantification of the energy consumed by each of their options as an incentive to become greener.