As readers of my blogs may know I have long argued that advances in research and education through cyber-infrastructure (or eInfrastructure) can be largely justified, if not entirely paid for through the energy savings of using clouds, networks or outsourcing.
But a big impediment in adopting cyber-infrastructure in most jurisdictions is the lack of financial incentives. The energy savings of cyber-infrastructure are usually earned by the facilities or estates department or rarely based on to researchers and educators. But initiatives like national Green Revolving Funds, funded by the national government such as the 10 million Salix pound program in the UK, and JISC/JANET programs to promote clouds, outsourcing and Green IT are starting to make a difference. More importantly universities such as Cambridge are developing programs to pass on energy savings to individual departments†.
Another great example is the public-private partnership of London University and UNIT4 to offer shared outsourcing services to UK universities, as well as the recent JANET cloud brokering offering.
If these collocated facilities use green or renewable power, the carbon/energy savings for a university can be significantly greater than more traditional energy saving schemes such as changing light bulbs or adding insulation. Of course, advanced high speed R&E networks supporting Software Defined Networks and Hybrid optical backbones are critical for this vision.
Ultimately I think such initiatives can entirely underwrite the cost of such advanced networks by making Green Revolving Funds aware of the huge energy savings available by integrating advanced networks with clouds and outsourcing. Kudos to JISC/JANET for these forward thinking services.
† Cambridge Shared Savings – A new case study from the JISC-funded RECSO Project, managed by Forum for the Future with inputs from SusteIT, describes the background, aims and working of the Electricity Incentive Scheme (EIS) that Cambridge University implemented in 2008/09 and has since developed. The Scheme encourages consumers of electricity across the University to maximise their energy efficiency through a system of financial incentives (both rewards and penalties) at a departmental level. It thus achieves the benefits of fully devolved energy budgets without the administrative and managerial implications that this could have involved. The Scheme saved an estimated £820,000 in energy costs in its first year. Although not targeted at ICT, it obviously provides general incentives to tackle its energy use — as evidenced by an Appendix which details how the scheme helped stimulate an innovative green data centre (PUE approaching 1.1) in the Department of Engineering (also featured in the presentations from our September 2011 workshop at Cambridge). (PDF)
By Bill St. Arnaud , Green IT Networking Consultant
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Minds + Machines