VMware unveils Carbon Avoidance Meter to monitor data center energy usage

VMware on Monday announced its Carbon Avoidance Meter (CAM) to help data center operators monitor their carbon footprint and energy usage.

CAM does this by telling data center operators—in near-real time— their “carbon scores” based on telemetry data sent to VMware through VMware Skyline, which is a proactive support technology. The goal is help data center operators reduce their energy consumption and foster sustainable best practices for the industry.

VMware's R&D organization developed CAM as a proof of concept through its internal product incubator, xLabs, which aims to give VMware employees a platform to bring their projects to life. CAM was announced at RADIO (Research and Development Innovation Offsite), which is VMware’s internal technical conference that brings together more than 1,800 of the company’s worldwide employees.

Most data centers today consume power from electric grids sourced with a mix of power generation sources such as coal, nuclear or wind. VMware customers who subscribe to VMware Skyline can use CAM to quantify the level of VM (virtual machine) density in order to recommend higher levels of virtualization density to further reduce energy use and carbon emissions.

The meter will also enable customers to analyze their power usage to determine the amount of carbon offset credits that need to be purchased, or what times of day workloads can be shifted to use more sustainable energy sources.

With this information in hand, customers can opt to pick power from a more sustainable source, or shift workloads to more sustainable power sources during non-peak hours.

CAM is another step toward VMware’s 2020 sustainability goals and commitment to creating transformative technology for the environment. Four years ago, the company launched the VMware 2020 goals to reduce carbon emissions through energy efficiency efforts and procurement of renewable energy and carbon offsets, and to bridge the digital divide for businesses and non-profits organizations.

Beyond those goals for its own business practices, VMware also aims to incorporate sustainability features into future product releases, such as CAM, to offer solutions that help customers reduce their environmental impact and make informed choices around using "green" technologies.

“An increasing reliance on technologies such as mobile and cloud computing has led to significant energy generation from data centers. To mitigate their impact on the environment, companies need to assess their contributions to climate change and implement products and services that automate and optimize this process, thereby reducing energy outputs,” said VMware's Ray O’Farrell, executive vice president and CTO, in a statement. “At VMware, we are committed to empowering our customers with the resources and tools they need to u­ltimately reduce environmental impact across our vast customer and partner ecosystem.”

Additional capabilities and features of CAM will include near-real time dynamic computation of loads based on CPU types, load calculation3 of monitored systems and carbon footprint calculation based on consumption for the geographies of the data centers. VMware said the goal of CAM also includes helping customers create best practices and set standards for data center energy reduction and green computing.

VMware said CAM would be available to VMware Skyline customers later this year via the VMware Skyline Advisor, which is a support service developed in-house at VMware.

Green initiatives have been underway for years now within the telecommunications industry, but those efforts are starting to pay off. Earlier this year, Verizon issued $1 billion in green bonds. It plans to use the proceeds to fund various sustainability initiatives including renewable energy, green buildings, energy efficiency, and sustainable water management. Verizon anticipates that a majority of the funds will be allocated within three years.

Telefónica announced in January that its green bonds raised €1 billion ($1.14 billion) over a five-year term, and that the bonds were more than five times oversubscribed. 

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The cable industry has a similar program in place through the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE.) The SCTE launched its Energy 2020 program in 2014 with the goal of having energy and power-related best practices and standards in place by next year. The Energy 2020 program marked a cultural and business model shift for the cable organization.