Open source can play a key role in creating a sustainable future

Huawei’s Bryan Che spoke to SiliconRepublic.com about the importance of global collaboration. and how open source technology can help improve energy efficiency.

Open source technology can play an important role in addressing the climate emergency, providing greater collaboration and shared learning.

That’s according to Bryan Che, Huawei’s Chief Strategy Officer and one of the keynote speakers at this week’s Open Source Summit Europe event in Dublin.

It’s where members of the open source community come together to share information and work to solve problems to ensure a sustainable open source ecosystem.

At the summit, Che spoke about the importance of improving technology to help the environment, as well as the ways open source can benefit the environment, such as improving energy efficiency and nature protection.

Speaking to SiliconRepublic.com, Che said open source research can be used to help bring “real change” to certain sectors such as cloud, edge and devices.

“We need the creativity and applications of open source technology to solve big problems that many people don’t even realize are problems,” Che said.

Open source and sustainability

Che said that in general, technology is already “crucial” to addressing the climate crisis, but noted some key benefits that open source offers, especially in collaboration.

“We need to be open not only in our collaboration, but also in our learnings and results,” Che said. “We need to understand what isn’t working as much as what is working.

“Having open source collaboration around all of these efforts is a great way to move forward together.”

Huawei has been contributing to open source projects since around 2010, with the level of contributions increasing in recent years. For example, the company was the 10th largest contributor to GitHub in 2020, which was a jump of 27.e place the previous year.

Huawei also contributes to similar repositories such as Gitee, China’s largest open source software repository.

Che said Huawei is involved in a number of sustainability-focused open source projects, such as KubeEdge which aims to help smart buildings become 19% more energy efficient.

Huawei is also involved in a number of open source communities around the world, including the Linux Foundation, the Apache Foundation, and the OpenInfra Foundation.

“To develop sustainably, we must come together and reduce humanity’s collective footprint,” Che said. “We have to take less and give more.”

Bridging the global divide

Che said it was also difficult to bring people together from around the world for open source collaboration.

“Different developers may be in different time zones and speak different native languages,” Che said. “They can serve different markets with significantly different requirements. And they can develop their local ecosystems completely differently.

In order to help solve this problem, Che said that Huawei has taken steps to gather some open source foundations on some projects.

For example, Huawei contributed the OpenHarmony project at China OpenAtom Foundation. It’s basically an open-source version of HarmonyOS from Huawei that was donated to the foundation.

The tech giant also became a founding member of Onirowhich is an OpenHarmony compatible project from the Eclipse Foundation.

“Having two open source foundations come together to jointly collaborate on developing and building an ecosystem of an open source project is unprecedented,” Che said.

Open source in Huawei’s portfolio

Speaking about Huawei’s product and service portfolio, Che said there “isn’t an area that wouldn’t benefit” from sustainable open source technology and projects.

Huawei has set itself a number of climate targets, such as reducing its carbon emissions by 16% and increasing the energy efficiency of its main products by 2.7 times by 2025.

“Open-source is key to all of this because much of our product portfolio will have some use of open-source in its BOM,” Che said.

Che highlighted the role that open source technology can play in making cloud data centers more energy efficient. An example is OpenEulera community-driven Linux distribution supported by Huawei.

Che said this is designed to work with different microchip architectures such as ARM servers to reduce their power consumption by up to 50pc.

“We can bring significant energy efficiency to cloud data centers by leveraging specialized energy-efficient hardware and also increasing the utilization of existing hardware – it’s basically optimizing software to increase hardware efficiency. “, Che said.

Huawei highlighted the benefits of making data centers more sustainable and efficient at the Mobile World Conference earlier this year, where the tech giant showcased its improved designs.

Other companies have taken notice of data centers as they have become a controversial topic due to the amount of energy they consume.

For example, IBM showcased its new LinuxONE servers at the Open Source Summit this week. The company claimed that this server can reduce data center power consumption by 75pc while supporting multiple workloads.

According to figures from the Central Statistics Office, data centers consumed 14% of Ireland’s electricity last year, more than rural homes.

Open-source security

Despite the benefits offered by open-source technology, concern over security threats to its supply chain has grown in recent years.

This is due to key vulnerabilities that have been detected in the past, such as the Log4j flaw, which is expected to remain a problem in systems for a decade or more.

Earlier this year, major US tech companies, including Google and GitHub, came together at a White House summit to discuss ways to make the open source software space safer.

Despite these concerns, Che said open-source software is “inherently safer” than traditional software, due to the global community of programmers who constantly use, analyze and modify it.

“Another important advantage is that it is constantly patched when vulnerabilities are detected; there is no need to wait forever for a fix from a slow software giant,” Che said.

Che said Huawei also participates in a number of collaborative projects to improve open source security. For example, the Chinese tech giant is a core member of the Open Source Security Foundation, which aims to advance security practices in the open source community.

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