IBM wins green cloud patent

An image of cables plugged into a cloud on a blue background
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

IBM scientists have been awarded a patent that enables cloud-based data centres to dynamically allocate resources to underused or more energy efficient systems.

Big Blue said that the invention (US Patent 8,549,125) could help spur green cloud computing and reduce the energy bills of data centres and cloud providers.

The company said that the invention is similar to how energy companies offer customers ways to automatically access and pay for alternative energy sources to lessen the environmental impact.

With this approach, a cloud will be tuned to automatically route service requests through network devices, systems and software that process the service while consuming the least amount of electricity.

“We have invented a way for cloud service providers to more efficiently manage their data centres and, as a result, significantly reduce their environmental impact,” said Keith Walker, IBM master inventor.

"The efficient, distributed cloud computing model has made it possible for people to bank, shop, trade stocks and do many other things online, but the massive data centres that enable these apps can include many thousands of energy-consuming systems."

The invention offers an environmentally friendly option for cloud service providers to add to their setup wizards. The service requests or deployments would then be flagged, indicating these should be carried out with the lowest environmental impact available across the data centre, according to Walker.

“It’s like purchasing a computer – you have the choice of buying a high speed hard drive, but do you need it for what you actually plan to do with the computer?” he said.

“Would something less powerful, but more energy efficient, meet your needs? Certain cloud services, or tasks within a service, don’t need a great deal of power, or can be done during off-peak hours.”

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.