Combating digital pollution
According to Ademe, the digital sector currently accounts for more than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, half of which is generated by data centres and network infrastructures.
And the weight of its environmental impact is expected to grow even more as usage increases. In France, 10% of the electricity produced is already consumed to meet the needs of data storage centres alone. Aware of these issues, digital players are increasingly concerned about the energy consumption of hosted services.
In just 10 years, progress has been made to ensure greater energy frugality in data centres. However, these developments are mainly focused on hardware efficiency (optimising server components or cooling, using renewable energy), without really dealing with the various software layers, which can have a significant impact on the use of allocated hardware resources. How to develop new cloud-native software with a view to sustainability and sobriety? Which programming languages, libraries, frameworks and cloud infrastructures should be considered for each project?
These are the questions that the DISTILLER (recommenDer servIce for SusTaInabLe cLoud nativE softwaRe) project aims to answer, following a call for projects launched by the French National Research Agency (ANR).
Inria, OVHcloud, Orange and Davidson consulting have joined forces in a consortium to pool their expertise, with the aim of defining precise recommendations on the most suitable software elements and configurations to ensure the sustainability and energy efficiency of cloud applications, right from the design stage.
DISTILLER will study and organise the cloud software ecosystem and then use the resulting data to propose optimised configuration models based on various artificial intelligence algorithms.
By studying all the layers of a native cloud application, from the physical infrastructure to the computer code, DISTILLER aims at a global approach allowing a drastic reduction of the digital environmental footprint.
At the end of this 3-year project, DISTILLER's recommendation system will be able to provide Product Owners, engineers or developers with all the necessary indications for the design, production and configuration of more sustainable cloud applications, while taking into account all the constraints specific to this type of project (performance, flexibility, confidentiality).
To achieve this ambitious goal, DISTILLER plans to study cloud-native applications and their configuration in order to extract all existing variations and to define empirically, on the basis of production measurements, a sustainability indicator on which the system of recommendations for sustainable software components will be based.
With its forthcoming website, the consortium will publish regularly on the progress of its research and its results, in order to share its work with the community and the research community.
The Distiller programme is a major step forward in the research we have been conducting for the past 10 years on the energy impact of software and is now one of the Institute's priorities <https://www.inria.fr/fr/numerique-frugal>. It will help advance fundamental research in the field of eco-responsible digital technology and its applications, particularly in the cloud. It will contribute to the perpetuation and transfer of our flagship software, PowerAPI <http://powerapi.org>, for measuring the energy consumption of software while promoting the emergence of new tools to support developers in adopting good design practices for their software.
Head of the Spirals research team, Inria
Reducing the environmental impact of digital technology involves all elements of its value chain. As a cloud service provider, OVHcloud's teams are committed to the Distiller project to develop knowledge about software bricks. By sharing this knowledge with our customers, partners and the community, we are committed to measuring an accurate and comprehensive environmental footprint for digital services. This complements our overall environmental strategy, going beyond the provision of renewable electricity or extending the life of our servers.
Program Manager Sustainability, OVHcloud
The performance of native cloud applications and their optimized use of cloud infrastructure is a source of energy efficiency that goes a long way towards reducing the environmental impact of the digital sector. An important topic for the future.
Director RSE, Orange Innovation
As a management consultancy and technology expert, member of the B Corp collective, and involved in the "Green It" collective, Davidson consulting is committed to promoting the emergence of solutions that reconcile innovation and digital sobriety. With DISTILLER, we want to contribute more to the design of fairer solutions to provide scientific and technical support and accompany the development of good practices for digital actors. Finally, we want to share these virtuous practices and our experience in this area with our ecosystem and put them into practice in the activities and projects we carry out.
Director R&D, Davidson consulting.