Tom Raftery recently wrote a piece calling for public cloud providers to be more open about the energy footprints of their services to allow for customer and consumer benchmarking. You might expect the likes of Amazon and Google would be open to publishing a footprint, but sadly that’s not the case yet. The Silicon Valley leviathans are doing some great work in terms of efficient IT – see Facebook’s OpenCompute initiative for example.
But its interesting that a company with a rather different heritage is banging the drum for sustainability metrics in the cloud. Step forward traditional outsourcing and systems integration firm CSC, and vp of cloud computing Siki Giunta.
“We really need to really understand a workload, how long it runs. We need to understand the rhythm of the business, and provision to that… At the moment metrics collection is all over the place.”
Giunta said that regulatory environments such as the UK Carbon Reduction Commitment would start to force enterprises to be more rigorous about energy monitoring and management. But what should you measure, in order to get a better handle on energy use?
Obviously we eventually need to instrument everything, for an internet of things that drives more sustainable outcomes, but Siki argues that a simpler metric would be a good place to start.
“In terms of servers a common area of metrics is RAM. It doesn’t matter how many VMs you what matters is RAM. But customers don’t know the RAM capacity…. of their workloads. they just provision to the spike.”
“Going forward we’ll see on spot memory… spot markets. At a couple of banks, like energy markets today- there is a spot rate. In IT RAM is the metric – like kilowatts.”
Its very early days, but its good to see Giunta leading the debate, talking to her customers, and folks like the CSC Advisory Council, about measuring server use, and moving towards more sustainable clouds.
Given that CSC bills for cloud on the basis of RAM you can see the attraction of a RAM-based energy measurement metric.
I also like the idea of a brute force metric so organisations can’t use complexity as an excuse not to report on energy use.