With an international focus on climate change after the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference, Department of Energy (DoE) CIO Ann Dunkin said today that data center consolidation is helping to reduce the agency’s carbon footprint, and pointed to the further use of scalable cloud-native apps as the next step in that campaign.

In a live-streamed keynote from ACT-IAC’s Imagine Nation conference in Pennsylvania Nov. 9, Dunkin spoke about progress on those efforts, and her work in cutting down on DoE’s carbon footprint.

“We’ve been able to just get rid of a lot of [the DoE carbon] footprint,” Dunkin said. “In that whole reduce, reuse, recycle [effort], starting by reducing our footprint is huge. We’ve closed and consolidated data centers … now we need to look at other improvements.”

Dunkin pointed to using scalable cloud-native applications to help organizations use less computing power, in addition to the benefit of providing flexibility to scale use up or down depending on need.

“Building those scalable cloud-native apps means that you can always scale your capacity up and down, you’re not utilizing additional capacity you don’t need, and that means you’re using less computing power,” Dunkin said.

That’s important at an agency like DoE, which is responsible for supercomputing facilities and labs, in addition to data centers and office buildings. Finding the best time to run jobs, from an energy efficiency standpoint, helps the agency reduce the burden it places on power grids.

“At DoE, we are also doing a lot of work with data center infrastructure management,” Dunkin said. “Putting those tools in place really helps us monitor the energy usage of our infrastructure.”

Dunkin said DoE is using predictive analytics to help determine when to run those jobs, taking into account factors like when renewable energy is available on the grid to help power any data centers more efficiently.

“We do a lot of work to try and make those data centers more efficient,” Dunkin said. “Because we’re not going to stop doing supercomputing [and] we’re not going to stop running IT systems. So, we’ve got to find ways to make them more efficient.”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.