OPTIMIS is green

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The summary of green legislation and quasi-legal initiatives outlined in our first legal report provides a useful guide to the environment in which OPTIMIS is being developed. Effort has been made where possible to highlight the relevance of each law, initiative or project to the goals of the wider project.

However, there are a number of practical recommendations and action points which should also be highlighted to make best use of the information assimilated thus far. These include practical steps on the application of existing metrics, how to work with industry standards and bodies, the need to design for future legal changes, and the use and cooperation with other EU funded projects with similar goals – particularly around energy efficient technology.

What OPTIMIS needs to do

EU Datacenter Code of Conduct: Our report examines the development of the European Code of Conduct for Datacenter efficiency and its implications for OPTIMIS. Questions have been raised over the likelihood of the code forming the basis of a law which would seek to regulate measures taken by datacenter owners and operators to improve energy efficiency. Our research indicates that the development of such a law is unlikely in the near future. Although most of the Code is concerned with internal datacenter operations, the next stage of OPTIMIS research should ensure that future developments – and any future laws are anticipated, and that any possibilities for using the EU CoC are explored.  We recommend liaising with the Joint Research Council to ensure that this is covered.

Integrating with PUE:  Our report also covers a range of energy efficiency metrics including PUE and its reciprocal DCIE. The section suggests that OPTIMIS develops some way to use PUE data in the OPTIMIS toolkit (There are clear signs in the market that some procurement contracts now require that datacenter operators provide PUE metrics). Practically, this should involve liaison with the European arm of the Green Grid, which developed the PUE metric, especially for anticipating future developments (there are now many variations of the PUE metrics).  Most datacenters, certainly by 2014, will have either a real time PUE figure (available as a web service) or an average figure that can be automatically collected or manually input, and ability to use this data should be in the relevant SLAs.

Collaborating with EU green metric projects: In the report we outline a number of relevant EU-funded projects that aim to develop green metrics or methodologies which could be relevant to OPTIMIS. Overtures have already been made to the project leaders of both GAMES and Fit4Green with the aim to share learnings in a mutually beneficial manner. However, as highlighted in the report, both efforts are in their relative infancy and  it will be mid 2011 until they begin to  be useful to efforts under OPTIMIS.

Links have also been established to the REViSITE project which is investigating into the 'net; impact of ICT on energy efficiency in the four sectors of construction, grids, lighting and manufacturing. The project is attempting to achieve a common impact assessment model and a roadmap which are non sector specific. The project's leaders have signalled an interest in the OPTIMIS project and the ability of cloud computing in general as a way to harness energy efficiency.

Anticipating carbon laws: As explained, the laws regarding carbon reporting are likely to change and evolve significantly in the coming two decades. Furthermore, legislation will vary widely from country to country, both within the EU and beyond. Although there are no laws that currently require carbon or energy reporting by datacenter, some buyers of services are or will be mandated to ask suppliers to provide carbon or energy data. It is therefore important that the OPTIMIS toolkit be designed in a way that carbon and or energy data be provided, and that that is done in such a way that this data is appropriately granular (by application or data stored, for example),  can be automatically collected by reporting tools.  Given that the great majority of a datacenter provider's carbon use is related to operational energy purchased from the grid, the tool should be designed to collect or input data provided by the utility.

Providing evidence of claimed compliance:  Using the OPTIMIS toolkit, datacenter operators will be asked to provide data on energy use and conformance with certain codes and standards, some of which involves certification by third parties. At present,  we have not devoted time to considering how this data might be verified. We believe this is an area for future discussion and research.

Exploration of issues relating to multiple datacenters:  Compliance with rules and standards, and energy use and efficiency, can vary widely from datacenter to datacenter.  We recommend that future research for OPTIMIS considers how suppliers that wish to move workloads between datacenters can or should report this to their customers. We further recommend that the toolkit should include an option that the work is carried out in single or specified conformant datacenters. The Fit4Green project is undertaking some work in this area and could be a subject for collaboration with OPTIMIS in the future.

Designing for kitemarks and external standards:  In the field of eco-efficiency, there are many standards and kitemarks that are used by buyers of services. Sometimes, large buyers are mandated by government to adopt these standards. It is not necessary for the OPTIMIS toolkit to build in an understanding of all these standards. However, we recommend that the toolkit be designed to allow for simple fields to be added so that suppliers can indicate compliance.