In the last decade, data centers have become the core of modern business environments as computation has moved rapidly into the cloud. Data centers are among the fastest-growing users of electricity in the US, consuming an estimated 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2013. They’re projected to increase to roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours annually by 2020 — the equivalent annual output of 50 power plants — costing American businesses $13 billion annually in electricity bills, and emitting nearly 100 million metric tons of carbon pollution per year. When operating a data center of hundreds of thousands of servers, it’s essential that they be operated effectively, to improve energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. With the aggressive adoption of cloud-based computing, the demands on data centers are growing exponentially, and both academia and industry will need to rethink how data centers are designed, built, and operated to be sustainable. Despite a decade of research and industrial innovation, a recent Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report indicates that typical small and midsize data centers hosting private clouds still have many wasteful practices. While best practices at mega-scale commercial cloud operators (such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon) have addressed the most egregious wastes (for example, inefficient cooling), we nevertheless must find ways to transfer these best practices across the data center landscape and address the remaining performance and efficiency challenges that afflict even the largest installations.
Around the mid-2000’s, the advent of mega-scale Internet services and public cloud offerings led to a redesign of data center architectures, which addressed key inefficiencies, particularly in electrical and mechanical infrastructure. At the same time, the accelerated need for efficient servers spurred a generation of research on CPU, memory, network, and storage power-management techniques, which has led to a marked improvement in server efficiency and energy proportionality. However, this first generation of improvement has plateaued; further opportunity in the large-scale mechanical infrastructure is limited, and no single server or network component stands out as the key source of inefficiency. Hence, it’s time for a second, holistic, clean-slate redesign of the data center, encompassing new server architectures, heterogeneous computing platforms, radical networking paradigms, new mechanical and electrical designs, intelligent cluster management, and radical rethinking of software architectures while considering changing use patterns (such as hybrid private/public clouds).
With this in mind, this special issue calls for research on various issues and solutions that can enable energy-efficient data centers. Topics of interest include (but aren’t limited) to the following:
energy-efficient networks for data centers;
energy-efficient virtualization techniques;
instrumentation, measurement, and characterization studies;
metrics, benchmarks, and interfaces;
performance, energy, and other resource trade-offs, as well as energy complexity;
energy-efficient software optimization and application design;
system-level optimization and cross-layer coordination;
scheduling, runtime adaptation, and feedback control;
processor, memory, network, storage, hardware components, and architecture;
reliability and power management;
green energy sources and their implications
technologies for and management of energy storage; and
All submissions must be original manuscripts of fewer than 5,000 words, focused on Internet technologies and implementations. All manuscripts are subject to peer review on both technical merit and relevance to IC’s international readership — primarily practicing engineers and academics who are looking for material that introduces new technology and broadens familiarity with current topics. We do not accept white papers, and papers which are primarily theoretical or mathematical must clearly relate the mathematical content to a real-life or engineering application. To submit a manuscript, please log on to ScholarOne (https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com:443/ic-cs) to create or access an account, which you can use to log on to IC’s Author Center and upload your submission.