HomeDigital Platforms & APIsZenoh attacks the sheer waste and futility of telco clouds

    Zenoh attacks the sheer waste and futility of telco clouds


    Wasteful machine to machine chats need to stop

    The pioneer of energy saving data comms protocol Zenoh has called on mobile network operators to save millions on their comms bills and cut their carbon consumption, through a simple system they could adopt now. The telco cloud’s inherent problem is that machines are too chatty and this bad habit is a galloping expense that needs to be nipped in the bud, according to ZettaScale CEO Angelo Corsaro.

    Telco clouds are great for saving time on development but they could make telcos repent at leisure when they find they have long term running cost problems. This is because telco clouds are set up to make billions of pointless, multi-national, party-line line conversations every minute – and these expensive power consuming computing transactions and long-distance communications could all be avoided. ZettaScale, creator of Zenoh, aims to give telcos the option of saving a fortune on both comms and calories by making telco clouds run more efficiently.

    Machine to machine conversations in a domestic Internet of Things service exemplify how wasteful the telco cloud can be, said Corsaro. A connected electricity meter that communicates through a cloud service will talk to its owner via hundreds of thousand of miles of cloud, even though they are yards apart. The communications protocols of cloud-to-microcontroller applications are incredibly flabby and Zetta’s design would eliminate 90% of the baggage by using one set of data formats for motion, rest and processing.

    Best of all, Zenoh shuns the wastefulness of other protocols like DDS (data distribution service) MQTT (message queuing telemetry transport) and NDN (name data networking), which need to involve several sets of machines to be involved, whereas Zenoh could enable your phone to talk directly to your electricity meter, without getting involving servers all over the globe.

    This makes a massive saving processing power. The cost of online communications was famously exemplified by the song, Despacito which had five billion views on YouTube, and these views burned as much energy as 40,000 US homes use in a year because “every search, click, or streamed video activates servers in six to eight data centres around the world,” according to Power Engineering magazine.

    Currently each byte sent between your phone and your electricity meter must journey across many switches, routers and fibres and that wastes energy, according to ZettaScale CEO Angelo Corsaro. If the conversation was direct, all the energy consumption would be avoided. “Why on earth are we doing this?” said Corsaro, “it’s all because protocols like MQTT only support client to broker communication, and the broker sits in the cloud. So the only way to communicate is to make this incredible detour. There are thousands of these pointless detours every day.”

    Zenoh solves this class of problems by allowing devices that happen to be close-by to communicate directly, and ensuring that communication is kept as localised as possible – based on the location of the entities that are trying to exchange data. Zenoh’s wire efficiency also helps in achieving incredible performance, thus allowing applications to leverage the full bandwidth of the underlying network. Zenoh started as an internal research project funded by a consortium of partners of developer ZettaScale. It has decided to open source Zenoh through the Eclipse Open Source Foundation, as a guarantee of transparency, governance and availability to its community. Zenoh was officially accepted as an open source community Eclipse project on March 5, 2020.

    In spite of its youth, Zenoh’s adoption is proliferating, not because of some mega-vendor’s marketing muscle, but through organic adoption by engineers, as this blog explains.