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Sustainable Information Technology Ecosystem
The next generation of information technology services will be driven by an ecosystem made up of billions of service-oriented handheld devices and thousands of data centers. The IT ecosystem must address the fundamental needs of society while reducing the destruction of available energy when compared to conventional ways of conducting business. This applies in particular to IT services in growth economies where users are eager to use IT to improve the quality of life. To enable "IT as a weapon" for the masses while producing a net-positive impact on the environment, we need to devise a least-material and least-energy approach to IT solutions.
We propose an approach that traces the lifecycle of IT solutions based on the second law of thermodynamics. This "cradle-to-cradle" method calculates the cost in Joules of available energy destroyed to provide a uniform framework to compare the sustainability of IT solutions with respect to conventional approaches. We will probe the design of computer and storage hardware and services in view of inflections in the technologies and their impact from a thermo-mechanical point of view. We will call for a multidisciplinary community to develop a sustainable global IT ecosystem by fusing the least-materials and least-energy approaches.
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