ASCETiC: The Drive to Cloud Efficiency

Posted on: March 16, 2017 by Sophie Chambon

In my previous piece, I began looking at the current drive towards better energy efficiency in the IT sector. Now, I’d like to take an in-depth view of ASCETiC, an EU-backed project that is set to have a major impact on the carbon footprint of the region’s cloud services…

Led by a consortium of nine partners – including Atos, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and the University of Leeds in England – ASCETiC is focused on providing tools and support to developers aiming to monitor and optimize energy efficiency in the design, development, deployment, and execution of software in the Cloud. Its energy models, profiles and footprints of Cloud platforms and the real-time monitoring mechanisms make the creation of new pricing schemes possible so that users can be charged based on their actual consumption, encouraging more efficient use of energy in Cloud resources. At the same time, Cloud providers can be supported in achieving their ambition of reducing costs in services provision and operations.

ASCETiC, or Adapting Service lifeCycle towards EfficienT Clouds, perfectly illustrates the international mobilization to address the energy efficiency challenges in ICT, its results can be explored in more detail here.

In the wider industry, energy efficiency is rarely prioritized, with organizations more interested in creating exciting new features and product functions than investing in sustainable IT. Importantly, there are no technical barriers to making connected devices more energy efficient, and no reason why energy efficiency could not still improve. It does, however, need stakeholders to commit time and resource to the project. This point is a challenge, often requiring a global approach. And if progress is to be made, software and hardware developers, device manufacturers, network designers, service providers, the telecom industry and end-users will all have a key role to play.

New trends

In this respect, we are seeing the emergence of two disruptive trends: Serverless Computing and Unikernels.

Also known as ‘Function as a Service’ (FaaS), Serverless Computing is a model of coding in which the management of IT resources (virtual machines, servers etc.) is moved to a Cloud provider. By handling short lived FaaS functions rather than complete applications, it is possible to optimize resource allocation and significantly reduce costs as well as reduce the energy required to run the codes. Beyond impacting the way we code, this evolution will also impact the developers who must acquire expertise in architecture, integration and automation alongside their proficiency in coding.

Additionally, the Unikernel approach occurs when application’s images embed only the services required for their operation, removing the possible bottlenecks created by virtualization technologies and operating systems. Operations optimized through the reduction of the layers between hardware and application code could have a positive impact on energy consumption.

DevOps efficiency

These trends fit very well with the emerging move towards the DevOps model, and will play a key role in setting free the creative forces engineers-developers, allowing them to become a cornerstone of the organization’s strategy, and a key element in achieving the circular economy.

The management of energy efficiency in the software environment should have a profound impact on how IT architectures are understood. Transforming everything, from the industry’s skills and tools to its standards and benchmarks. This change will also alter the wider business, with other functions all being impacted by the new models of operation.

Finally, it’s likely that we will see the rise of ‘eco-labelling’ with companies brandishing the green credentials of their IT infrastructures and applications. This approach could very well become a distinctive argument in the digital industry.


About Ana Juan Ferrer

Ana Juan Ferrer is Head of Lab of Next Generation Cloud Lab for Atos Research and Innovation, a group which focuses its research on Cloud and Edge Computing technologies, distributed systems and service engineering. Within this role. she coordinated the ASCETIC project that investigated methods and tools to support eco-efficient software development and execution in Cloud environments. Currently, she is coordinating the mF2C project, investigating platforms and architectures for Fog and Cloud computing. Other research projects she contributes/has contributed to include: BASMATI, AGILE, MCloudDaaS, STRATEGIC, Helix Nebula, SLALOM, NUBA, NEXOF-RA, BEinGRID and Crosswork. Ana currently acts as the Cluster leader for the European Commission E2 Software & Services, Cloud Computing Unit “Inter-cloud Challenges, Expectations and Issues” cluster, which joins fifteen related projects. Ana also participates in the Atos Scientific Community leading Edge and Swarm track.

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About Sophie Chambon

Head of Global Sustainability and member of the Scientific Community
Sophie Chambon-Diallo is Global Head of Sustainability and Special Advisor for Africa within Atos. In charge of promoting the digital portfolio of sustainability offerings, she is also responsible for building an ecosystem with innovative partners and leading academics. Sophie reports to the Atos General Secretary. Before joining Atos Corporate Responsibility Program, she was Senior Manager Consultant in Customer Relationship Management. She was previously Director of Marketing Operations in an international telemarketing company. Sophie holds a Postgraduate degrees after the Master in Economic Sciences from Panthéon Sorbonne (DEA ès Sciences Economiques).

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