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Newsletter - Volume 4 Issue 6 - October 2016

Monthly bulletin of the IEEE Computer Society Special Technical Community on Sustainable Computing

Providing quick access to timely information on sustainable computing.

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Message from the editor

Cristina Rottondi, Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence

I am glad to open the October issue of the IEEE STC Newsletter, which offers to our audience a conference and a symposium reports, a technical contribution and an interview. 

In this issue, we also take the occasion to congratulate Prof. Ender Ayanoglu on his new appointment as Editor-in-Chief of the recently launched IEEE Transactions on Green Communications and Networking!    

Our Information Officer Prof. Patricia Lago reports on the 4th International Conference on ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S) recently held in Amsterdam and on the tutorial that Sergio Espana provided at the 28th International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering (CAiSE 2016), whereas Prof. Andrea-Emilio Rizzoli summarizes the outcomes of the summer school and symposium on smart systems for water management funded by the FP7 European Project SmartH2O. Prof. Zuqing Zhu proposes an abstract on his research paper “Highly-Efficient Data Migration and Backup for Big Data Applications in Elastic Optical Inter-Datacenter Networks” recently appeared in IEEE Network.

Finally, we feature the interview to Prof. Xue (Steve) Liu from McGill University about his research on datacenter power management and smart energy systems. As usual, the newsletter closes with the list of upcoming conferences and workshops in the field of sustainable computing.

The launch of the IEEE Transactions on Green Communications and Networking

Following a highly popular three-issue Series on Green Communications and Networking of the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, the IEEE has launched a new journal in this field, the IEEE Transactions on Green Communications and Networking. The journal will be published in an online-only format on a quarterly basis, starting in March 2017.

The goal of this journal is to advance and promote significant technology advances in green communications and networks including wireline, optical, and wireless communications and networks. Green communications and networking in this context means sustainable, energy-efficient, energy-aware, and environmentally aware communications and networking. The journal will promote innovations, new technologies, concepts, and principles toward a sustainable information and communications technology.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Green wireline, optical, and wireless communications and networks; 
  • Network and physical layer design, strategies, algorithms, protocols, and scheduling that consider environmental factors; 
  • Energy-efficient and energy-aware heterogeneous networks, self-organized, and low-power sensor networks; 
  • Energy efficiency in machine-to-machine communications, cooperative communications, and smart grid networks; 
  • Energy harvesting, storage, and recycling for network cross-layer optimization; 
  • Environmentally-aware designs of communications and networking devices and systems; and 
  • Communications and networking for environmental protection monitoring. 

The Editor-in-Chief of the journal is Ender Ayanoglu received the Ph.D. degree from Stanford University in 1986. He was with the Communications Systems Research Laboratory of Bell Laboratories until 1999 and with Cisco Systems, Inc. until 2002. Since 2002, he has been a Professor with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California, Irvine, CA, where he served as the Director of the Center for Pervasive Communications and Computing and held the Conexant-Broadcom Endowed Chair from 2002 to 2010. He was a recipient of the IEEE Communications Society Stephen O. Rice Prize Paper Award in 1995 and the IEEE Communications Society Best Tutorial Paper Award in 1997. From 1993 to 2014, he was an Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Communications and served as its Editor-in-Chief from 2004 to 2008. He is a Fellow of the IEEE since 1998.

The journal is currently accepting paper submissions through the ScholarOne Manuscripts Web site Further information is available at the journal Web site

Report from the ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S) 2016 conference

By Patricia Lago (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Paola Grosso (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Anwar Osseyran, (SURFsara & University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

The 4th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Sustainability (ICT4S 2016), took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on August 29-September 1, 2016. ICT4S is a series of research conferences bringing together leading researchers, developers and government and industry representatives dedicated to exploring and proposing how Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can be used as a tool to reach sustainability goals.

Online resources include:
The conference featured 2-days program preceded and followed by one-day workshops. For the newcomers, ICT4S features a quite unconvental organisation that fosters discussions and brings interaction among participants to a higher level. There are no “standard” paper presentations. Thanks to the ConverStations format it defined and adopted from 2013, presenters and their audience sit at a table with about 8 people: the presenter uses slides, his or her laptop, or paper to discuss the work (described in the paper) with the table; the attendees are engaged, are there because they consciously chose to learn more about this specific work and have the opportunities to engage in a conversation with the presenter and one another. Because the format is repeated 3 times (when the attendees switch table), the presenter gets feedback from different people every time. Thanks to the informal and small-scaled setting, each iteration is “kind of new”: new people bring new perspectives, give different feedback, trigger different ideas. In 2016 the ConverStations touched topics spanning from greener clouds/businesses and engaging the people, to software as the driving force toward sustainability or smart homes and cities. See the online proceedings for more details (URLs below).

A second format enabling interaction is the WorkStations, launched in 2016 with a very positive feedback from the community. Four workstations mirroring the topics of the four conference keynotes allowed the community to further discuss challenges and future direction towards, for example, how to engage industry in sustainability or the role of data science and the Internet of Things in the transition to an energy-aware digital economy.

An important part of the conference was the keynotes featuring (in order of appearance) Frances Brazier, (Professor in Engineering Systems Foundations at the Delft University of Technology), Maikel Bouricius (manager marketing and communications at Green IT Amsterdam), Frits Verheij, (Director Smart Energy for DNV GL – Energy), and Nicola Villa (Executive partner and European leader Internet of Things at IBM).

The two days of workshops have been extremely exciting in terms (again) of constructive discussions, sparking new ideas and initiatives, and engaging the community. Please refer to the conference website for details about each workshop.

This year we gave two awards. Six papers have been nominated for the ICT4S 2016 Best Paper Award, which has been won by Maha Salman et al, "Sustainable and Smart: Rethinking What a Smart Home is" (see photo). The ICT4S 2016 Best Poster Award has been given to Mary Barreto for the research on “Household routines: identifying contextual cues for energy related activities”.

Last but not least, we thank the conference sponsors SURFsara and Quanza, and the conference supporters Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam.

Overall, if you are interested in a truly interdisciplinary community and an engaging and inspiring conference experience, ICT4S is perfect for you. We hope to see you in Toronto, Canada, for ICT4S 2018!

General chair:
Prof. dr. Anwar Osseyran, SURFsara & University of Amsterdam

Program chairs:
Prof. dr. Patricia Lago, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Dr. Paola Grosso, University of Amsterdam

Report from the CAiSE 2016: Tutorial on "Sustainability in Information Systems Engineering and Research”

By Sergio Espana, Patricia Lago, Sjaak Brinkkemper

The tutorial took place on June 15th, during the 28th International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering (CAiSE 2016), held in Ljubljana, Slovenia [1]. The tutorial aimed at raising awareness on the role that advanced information systems research and engineering can have in creating a more sustainable world. We first explained the basics of sustainability from the economic, social and environment points of view, discussed the role played by information systems research and engineering in technical sustainability, presented relevant toolset of methods and technologies applicable to this research domain, presented some open research challenges and debated the future of the discipline. The tutorial had 21 attendees, mainly being academics but also a few researchers from industry.

One of the methods we presented is Software Sustainability Assessment (SoSA), developed by Lago, which enables software developers to specifically consider environmental and social dimensions of an existing or envisioned software system, relative to technical and economic dimensions [2]. The attendees applied the method to a case study in smart mobility. Besides getting insights in the notion of sustainability as related to software analysis and design, the attendees could experiment "hands on” with the shift in perspective, from addressing traditional quality requirements (like security and performance) when designing software solutions, to including unconventional quality requirements that are sustainability-related. This has been perceived as innovative and inspiring, which of course inspires us to continue along this path. We also gathered valuable feedback on the development and use of the SoSA method, for which we are very grateful to all participants.

Contacts: Sergio Espana ( & Patricia Lago (

[1] Espana, S., P. Lago, and S. Brinkkemper, Sustainability in information systems engineering and research, in Proc. CAiSE 2016, Springer: Ljubljana, Slovenia. p. XXII-XXIII.
[2] Lago, P., S.A. Kocak, I. Crnkovic, and B. Penzenstadler, Framing sustainability as a property of software quality. Communication of the ACM, 2015. 58(10): p. 70-78.

Scientific Report  on the Outcome of The Summer School and Symposium On Smart Systems For Water Management, 22-25 August 2016, Monte Verita’, Switzerland


Scope and aims

The main scope of the Symposium was to study, review and contextualise the multiple efforts that are being made to counteract the increasing stress imposed on water resources at a global scale by a range of factors, such as the change in climatic variability and conditions, the increase in world population, and the concentration of such world population in urban areas. In concrete terms, by 2030 there will be 41 megacities worldwide, which will raise domestic water demand, posing big challenges to water supply. For instance, in London by 2020 a shortfall of 133 million litres per day is expected, if nothing is done on the management side with respect to the current practices.

This Symposium and Summer School aimed at exploring the perspective of urban water management for the next years, from both the supply side, but in particular on the demand side, where large reductions can be obtained by a more efficient and responsible use.

Main results and outcomes

Several topics were addressed, as reflected in the symposium's programme of lectures, with a particular attention on:
modelling and understanding the behaviour of water consumers, the drivers of such behaviour, the role of social norms as discussed in the lectures by Verena Tiefenback (ETH), Matteo Giuliani and Alessandro Facchini (Politecnico di Milano and SUPSI, respectively), David Rosenberg (Utah State), Dominic Boccelli (Cincinnati), Wojciech Froelich (University of Silesia), Marielle Montignoul (Irstea), Isabel Micheel (EIPCM), Willam Holleran (Water Smart);
economic leverages and water demand management strategies to promote behavioural change, presented in the lectures of Pulido Velazquez (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia), Jay Lund (UC Davis), Greg Charaklis (Chapel Hill), Patrick Reed (Cornell), Julien Harou (University of Manchester),
the role of Information and Communication Technologies to support the design, implementation and deliver smart solutions for urban water demand management: Lydia Vamvakeridou Lyrudia (Exeter), Pantelis Sopasakis (IMT Lucca), Gabriel Anzaldi (Eurecat), Giovanna de Filippis (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna) and Francisco Arregui de la Cruz (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia);
and finally some hands on experiences with the role of gamification in the water domain has been offered thanks to the presentations of Spartaco Albertarelli (Kaleidos Games) and Bryan Mundell (Adventerra Games) during the public event organised during the symposium.

During the four days of the symposium the participants had the chance to discuss a number of ideas and topics, as the discussions during the presentations have always been lively and active. As main result, the participants convened on the last day to a plenary session where the initial structure for a joint paper on the future challenges of research for urban water demand management has been laid out. During this discussion, a number of key items have been identified, such as:  investigate new modelling approaches based on the availability of data on water consumption at the individual level;  understand how to extrapolate instantaneous data measurements to predict the evolution of water consumption under various climatic and demographic and socio-economic conditions;  reflect on the financial implications of dramatic changes in water and energy uses for the current business models of utilities;

The above list is not exhaustive, but identifies some key areas which will be expanded in the joint work of the symposium's participants. At the same time, the organisers, Drs Castelletti and Rizzoli, are preparing a call for papers for a Thematic Issue on the topic of urban water demand management, which will be submitted to the international journal Environmental Modelling \& Software.


The symposium has been a success thanks to the participation of a group of highly qualified researchers and scientists coming from both the USA and Europe. All of this would have not been possible without the financial support of the European Project SmartH2O (Grant 619172) and the financial support of Congressi Stefano Franscini, which allowed the access to the splendid congress centre located at Monte Verità in Ascona, Switzerland.

Highly-Efficient Data Migration and Backup for Big Data Applications in Elastic Optical Inter-Datacenter Networks

By Ping Lu, Liang Zhang, Xiahe Liu, Jingjing Yao, and Zuqing Zhu
IEEE Network, vol. 29, no. 5, pp. 36-42, Sept./Oct. 2015

Nowadays, the emergence of data-intensive applications, such as e-Science, e-commerce, teleconference and etc, has brought us into the "Big Data" era. Different from the conventional ones, Big Data applications can generate huge volumes of data that the conventional systems can hardly capture, manage, store and analyze. Recent advances on cloud computing have indicated that Big Data applications running on multi-datacenter (multi-DC) systems can provide low-latency, high-quality and non-disruptive services to end-users. Recently, a few big enterprises have built their multi-DC systems and invested R&D efforts on the technologies for efficient data migration, e.g., Google has deployed Effingo for migrating large-scale data among its DCs. Also people have developed NetStitcher, which used a relay-based data migration scheme that leverages in-network storages for buffering and forwards bulk-data towards its destination when available bandwidth exists. However, the huge-throughput associated with data migration and backup is still an open challenge for the underlying networks connecting the multi-DC systems.

With agile spectrum management in the optical layer, flexible-grid elastic optical networks (EONs) allow the optical spectra to be allocated at the granularity of a few GHz or even smaller. Consequently, the optical layer in EONs can react directly to variable bandwidth demands from the clients, and hence EONs have been considered as a promising underlying network infrastructure for supporting the multi-DC systems and the Big Data applications running on them. We study the technologies for realizing highly-efficient data migration and backup for Big Data applications in elastic optical inter-DC networks. Authors first analyze the characteristics of Big Data applications and cloud computing and explain their impacts on the underlying inter-DC networks. Then, they introduce the concept of flexible-grid elastic optical inter-DC networks and model the data migration in them as a dynamic anycast problem. Several efficient anycast algorithms are proposed and joint resource defragmentation is also introduced to further improve the network performance. For efficient data backup, authors leverage a mutual backup model and investigate how to avoid the prolonged negative impacts on DCs' normal operation by minimizing the DC backup window.

Despite the advantages of elastic optical inter-DC networks, there are also challenges for realizing highly-efficient data migration and backup in them. For instance, the network control and management (NC&M) can be an issue. Almost all the algorithms discussed in this work are based on centralized NC&M, while the current NC&M in optical networks is usually distributed. Software-define elastic optical networks (SD-EON) that adapts the concept of software-defined networking can be a potential solution, as they separate the control and data planes of EONs, and apply centralized NC&M to manage network resource allocation.

Zuqing Zhu ( received the PhD degree from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University ofCalifornia, Davis, in 2007. From July 2007 to January 2011, he worked in the Service Provider Technology Group of Cisco Systems, San Jose, as a senior R&D engineer. In January 2011, he joined the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), where he currently is a full professor. He has published more than 160 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. He is an editorial board member of IEEE Communications Magazine, Journal of Optical Switching and Networking (Elsevier), Telecommunication Systems Journal (Springer), Photonic Network Communications (Springer), etc. He has received the Best Paper Awards from the ICC 2013, GLOBECOM 2013, ICNC 2014, and ICC 2015. He is a Senior Member of IEEE and a Senior Member of OSA.

Community Highlights

In this feature we ask a prominent researcher in the field of sustainable computing to share their journey and lessons along the way with the broader community. In this issue we have the privilege to sit down with Professor Xue (Steve) Liu from McGill University, known for his research on DataCenter Power Management and Smart Energy Systems.

Xue (Steve) Li
Current position:  McGill University 
Past affiliations:  
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA , HP Labs USA
Alumni: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Currently working on:  Sustainable DataCenters, Electrical Vehicle Charging and Scheduling, Smart Grid and Renewable Energy integration, Cloud Computing and Big Data Applications

Favorite memory as a student/advisor/researcher:

As a professor, the most enjoyable memory is the opportunity to educate and work with students. A company in industry produces products and benefits the society. In a university, our “products” are highly qualified students. They are the “intellectual renewable energy” for the future. It is rewarding to see our students learned useful knowledge, important techniques and skills from our classrooms and labs, and make inventions, new products, new systems, new discoveries, new business models, and contribute to the society. Also, as a professor, through the interactions with students, colleagues, and other researchers, I also learn a lot of new things that I did not know before. Many of the research discoveries are sparkled from these interactions. The whole experience is extremely fun.

Could you share a research contribution from your research, and explain why this is something that you are particularly proud?

I would say the co-design of datacenter power management and smart grid. Datacenters are important infrastructure that supports modern computing, storage, and telecommunication. Operations of large-scale datacenters consume a lot of electricity from the Grid. Smart Grids are information-enabled new generation of electrical grids. Using two-way information technology, smart grid enables energy efficiency and reliability through intelligent matching of loads to demands. My students, collaborators, and myself are among the first to study how to operate Internet datacenters efficiently in the smart grid environment. This is an important, intriguing, yet challenging problem. A specific work is that we studied how to intelligently and automatically minimize the total electricity operation cost for datacenter operators in the modern smart grid while at the same time guaranteeing the quality of service through dynamic load scheduling and balancing. This research has motivated the new area called Geographical Load Balancing (GLB) for datacenter operations and has received significant attentions.

You are invited to learn the details from the book "Datacenter Power Management in Smart Grids" which was published in 2015 in the Foundations and Trends (FnT) series by NOW publishers (

Explain one thing that makes your work exciting for you?

As I mentioned above, as a university researcher, the work is very exciting because (1) we can interact with the students, educate and work with them together, and witness them to be successful; (2) learn new things and try hard to make new discoveries; (3) communicate ideas with colleagues and other researchers around the world through meetings, conferences, and paper reading.
We are fortunate to have the freedom to think what will be the next big thing to change the world and benefit the society. Sustainable computing is an excellent example of important research. On the one hand, the past several decades witnessed the tremendous success of computing; it is now an integral part of our everyday lives. At the same time, computing consumes a lot of resources; hence how to make computing sustainable is not only important but also very challenging. The combination of importance and challenging makes it exciting.

What do you think is (are) the important problem(s) to be solved in the next 10 years within sustainable computing?

(1) How to make computing systems more energy efficient, more Green-energy-aware and Green-energy-powered?

(2) How to use computing and communication technologies to make energy systems more efficient, reliable, safe, and integrate more green energy?

(3) How to utilize computing, communication, sensing and control, power and energy technologies to design sustainable IoT systems (Internet of Things).

What courses and skills are most important for students wanting to work in this area?

  • Control and Optimization 
  • Stochastic Systems 
  • Computer Systems 
  • Computer Organizations and Architecture 
  • Power Systems

Upcoming Events

The following venues are requesting submissions on subtopics related to sustainable computing or IT for sustainability.

Short Name

Main Topic



Paper Due



Green computing and technology

Osaka, Japan

March 30, 2017 - March 31, 2017

Oct 15, 2016

Oct 30, 2016

SmartGreens 2017

Smart Cities and Green ICT Systems

Porto, Portugal

April 22, 2017- April 24, 2017

November 23, 2016

January 25, 2017

IEEE GreenTech 2017

Green Technologies

Denver, Colorado, USA

March 30, 2017 - March 31, 2017

December 5, 2016

January 15, 2017

GreenMetrics 2017

Sustainable Computing

Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA (in conjunction with the 2017 ACM SIGMETRICS conference)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday, March 27 (hard deadline)


IEEE SmartgridComm 2017

Smart Grid Communications

Dresden, Germany

October 16- October 18, 2017

April 14, 2017


Journal and Special Issue Call For Papers 

Journal                                             Papers Due 

Sustainable Computing                         (Open)

IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing         (Open)

IEEE Transactions on Green Communications and Networking (Open)

IEEE Internet Computing, special issue on Energy-Efficient

Data Centers                                 Oct 28, 2016