Cloud Computing & Green IT

Theme leader: Professor Albert Y. Zomaya

Cloud Computing is a paradigm in which information is permanently stored in servers on the Internet and cached temporarily on clients that include desktops, entertainment centers, table computers, notebooks, wall computers, handhelds, sensors, monitors, etc. This paradigm is gaining momentum rapidly with many companies offering cloud computing services (e.g. Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft). These systems are expected to dominate the way we do business in the next few years.

The energy consumption issue in cloud computing systems raises various monetary, environmental and system performance concerns. A recent study on power consumption by servers (the type used in cloud computing systems) shows that electricity use for servers worldwideincluding their associated cooling and auxiliary equipmentin 2005 cost 7.2 billion US dollars. The study also indicates that this electricity consumption in that year had doubled compared with consumption in 2000 (See J. G. Koomey, Estimating total power consumption by servers in the U.S. and the world). Clearly, there are environmental issues with the generation of electricity. For example, the number of transistors integrated into todays Intel Itanium 2 processor reaches to nearly 1 billion. If this rate continues, the heat (per square centimetre) produced by future Intel processors would exceed that of the surface of the sun; this implies the possibility of worsening system reliability, eventually resulting in poor system performance.

This theme deals with solving a wide range of problems that are related to Cloud Computing (and Data Centres) technologies. For example, some of these problems are: resource allocation and scheduling; self-optimization techniques; quality of service and data management; accountability and provenance; secure application isolation; energy-aware algorithms, autonomic management protocols, and service-level agreements. The efficient solution of these problems should lead to environmentally friendly green cloud systems.

It is important to note that the above problems are computationally intractable in nature (NP-hard). The addition of energy or power as an added constraint makes these problems more complex. Moreover, the solution of these problems should lead to the delivery the required performance levels and minimizes energy usage between all the components of a cloud environment simultaneously. However, any solutions need to be holistic in nature taking into account all of the above issues along with the appropriate gluing tools that can lead to efficient yet transparent solutions that dont require the continuous intervention from human operators.