Industry participation in the international GreenTouch consortium attempting to reduce the carbon footprint of global networks has begun to grow, with the addition of US service provider, AT&T.
While originally listed as a founding member when the GreenTouch consortium was first announced, AT&T did not officially become a part of the group until this week, ahead of the second face-to-face meeting to be held between consortium members in Amsterdam in November.
The service provider joins a growing number of industry and research partners in the consortium, with an aim to increase network energy efficiency by a factor of 1000 by the year 2015. The objective, by the consortium’s own admittance, would require a reinvention of telecommunications networks, including Greener routers and hardware required to run the internet.
Rod Tucker, a member and lead Australian proponent of the consortium, found in his own studies that cloud computing was in many instances less energy efficient than on-site data centres for processing large amounts of data.
The consortium opened to public members for the first time in June, and last week announced the addition of 18 research institutions and universities, among them the University of New South Wales.
Tucker told Computerworld Australia that a number of other industry partners and vendors were “on the verge” of joining the consortium. It is believed that some Australian organisations are also among those interested.
“There is every expectation that there will be a significant increase in the number of industry partners,” he said. “We’re approaching something like parity between academia and industry which in my point of view is a good number.”
The growth of industry partners for GreenTouch would benefit its ability to achieve practical results in reducing the internet’s carbon footprint and would also balance the academia’s contributions of “thinking out of the box” and advanced mathematics required to analyse and measure the current energy use of global networks. Private sector businesses have often criticised academia for the disconnect to the real world and lack of cooperation with industry.
According to Tucker, while the GreenTouch consortium is yet to yield any new routers or breakthroughs in energy consumption, the five-year project’s growth would help contribute to the analysis and measurement framework it is currently establishing. Funding remains an obstacle to GreenTouch’s efforts - another motivation behind growing industry support - but research institutions are currently garnering possible funding programs from the European Union and DARPA in the United States.
Separately, Tucker and researchers at the University of Melbourne are working with university internet service provider, AARNet, to monitor power consumption from the provider’s routers in real-time.