Irish scientists discover way to reduce emissions through Stratus cloud computing

15 Jan 2014

Scientists have devised a system that will allow businesses to cut costs and emissions through a cloud computing system dubbed Stratus, the result of the collaborative effort between Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and IBM Dublin.

Nearly all of the services on the internet today are based in the cloud, which means Twitter, Facebook or Google mail requests are dealt with by one of thousands of PC servers located at a small number of warehouse-sized cloud-computing facilities around the world. 

Using mathematical algorithms, Stratus effectively balances the load between these different computer servers located across the globe.

The software gives a company greater personal control over their energy costs by allowing them to set out how much importance they attach to cost, greenhouse gas emissions and network delays involved in servicing their internet load.

Stratus’ algorithms then work out how best to split the load across different cloud-computing facilities to achieve the best result.

Cutting costs in half

To test Stratus, the scientists created a simulation based on three large facilities located in California, Virginia and Dublin, and found that by tailoring the algorithms to reduce carbon output, they could achieve a 21pc reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the given load.  

Likewise, by targeting electricity cost reductions, they could achieve a 61pc saving over simply splitting the load evenly.

The research will be featured in the inaugural issue of IEEE: Transactions on Cloud Computing, which will carry fellow peer-reviewed discoveries regarding cloud computing.

Professor in computer science at TCD, Donal O’Mahony, believes the financial savings alone will greatly benefit businesses using the system: “The overall goal of the Stratus system is to allow companies to procure their cloud computing service in a way that best serves their priorities. If they want to be super green, it will shift the load one way. If they want to cut costs to the bone, it will shift it another way, or they can choose anything in between.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic