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Enabling Sustainable Clouds: The Case for Virtualizing the Energy System

Bashir, Noman and Guo, Tian and Hajiesmaili, Mohammad and Irwin, David and Shenoy, Prashant and Sitaraman, Ramesh and Souza, Abel and Wierman, Adam (2021) Enabling Sustainable Clouds: The Case for Virtualizing the Energy System. In: Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Cloud Computing (SoCC '21). Association for Computing Machinery , New York, NY, pp. 350-358. ISBN 978-1-4503-8638-8.

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Cloud platforms' growing energy demand and carbon emissions are raising concern about their environmental sustainability. The current approach to enabling sustainable clouds focuses on improving energy-efficiency and purchasing carbon offsets. These approaches have limits: many cloud data centers already operate near peak efficiency, and carbon offsets cannot scale to near zero carbon where there is little carbon left to offset. Instead, enabling sustainable clouds will require applications to adapt to when and where unreliable low-carbon energy is available. Applications cannot do this today because their energy use and carbon emissions are not visible to them, as the energy system provides the rigid abstraction of a continuous, reliable energy supply. This vision paper instead advocates for a "carbon first" approach to cloud design that elevates carbon-efficiency to a firs--class metric. To do so, we argue that cloud platforms should virtualize the energy system by exposing visibility into, and software-defined control of, it to applications, enabling them to define their own abstractions for managing energy and carbon emissions based on their own requirements.

Item Type:Book Section
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Guo, Tian0000-0003-0060-2266
Hajiesmaili, Mohammad0000-0001-9278-2254
Shenoy, Prashant0000-0002-5435-1901
Sitaraman, Ramesh0000-0003-0558-6875
Souza, Abel0000-0001-6952-1195
Wierman, Adam0000-0002-5923-0199
Additional Information:© 2021 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). We thank our shepherd Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi and the reviewers for their comments, electricityMap for the carbon data, and AWS. This work is funded by NSF grants 2105494, 2045641, and VMware.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Carbon-efficiency, virtualization, cloud computing, edge
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210831-203914693
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Noman Bashir, Tian Guo, Mohammad Hajiesmaili1, David Irwin and Prashant Shenoy, Ramesh Sitaraman, Abel Souza, and Adam Wierman. 2021. Enabling Sustainable Clouds: The Case for Virtualizing the Energy System. In ACM Symposium on Cloud Computing (SoCC ’21), November 1–4, 2021, Seattle, WA, USA. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 9 pages.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:110650
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:01 Sep 2021 14:44
Last Modified:20 May 2022 18:21

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