[We Enable] OVHcloud, Davidson Consulting, Inria and Orange join forces for the "DISTILLER" research program to reduce the environmental impact of cloud applications


According to Ademe, the digital sector currently accounts for more than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, half of which is generated by data centres and network infrastructures. And the weight of its environmental impact is expected to grow even further with developments in usage. In France, 10% of the electricity produced is consumed only to meet the needs of data centres. Aware of such issues, digital players are increasingly concerned about the energy consumption of hosted services.

In just 10 years, progress has been made in ensuring greater energy efficiency in data centres, but these developments focus mainly on hardware (optimising server components or cooling, using renewable energy), without really dealing with the various software layers, which can have a significant impact on the use of allocated hardware resources.

How does one develop a sensible and sustainable new cloud-native software? Which programming languages, libraries, frameworks and cloud infrastructures should be considered for each project?

These are questions that the DISTILLER (recommenDer servIce for SusTaInabLe cLoud nativE softwaRe) project aims to answer, following a call for proposals launched by the French National Research Agency (ANR).

Inria, OVHcloud, Orange and Davidson Consulting have joined forces in a consortium to pool their expertise, with the aim of defining precise recommendations on the most suitable software elements and configurations to ensure the sustainability and energy efficiency of cloud applications, from the initial design stage.

DISTILLER will study and categorise the cloud software ecosystem and then extrapolate the resulting data to propose optimised configuration models based on various artificial intelligence algorithms. By studying all the layers of a native cloud application, from the physical infrastructure to the computer code, DISTILLER aims at a global approach resulting in a drastic reduction of the digital environmental footprint.

At the end of this 3-year project, DISTILLER's recommendation system will be able to provide product owners, engineers or developers with all the necessary information for the design, production and configuration of more sustainable cloud applications, while taking into account all the constraints specific to this type of project (performance, flexibility, confidentiality).

To achieve this ambitious goal, DISTILLER plans to study cloud-native applications and their configurations in order to extract all existing variations and to define empirically, on the basis of production measurements, a sustainability indicator on which the system of recommendations for sustainable software components will be based.

With its forthcoming website, the consortium will publish regularly on the progress of its research and provide insights, sharing its findings, particularly with the research community.


"As a management consultancy and technological expert, member of the B Corp collective and involved in the "Green It" collective, Davidson Consulting is committed to promoting the emergence of solutions that reconcile innovation and digital pragmatism. With DISTILLER, we want to contribute to the design of fairer solutions to provide scientific and technical support and accompany the development of good practices for digital players. Finally, we want to share these virtuous practices and our experience in this area with our ecosystem and put them into practice in the activities and projects we carry out. “ David OLIVIER, R&D Director, Davidson Consulting


"The DISTILLER programme is a major step forward in the studies we have been carrying out for the past 10 years on the energy impact of software, which is now one of the Institute's priorities. It will enable us to advance fundamental research in the field of eco-responsible digital technology and its applications, particularly in the cloud. It will contribute to the sustainability and transfer of our flagship software, PowerAPI, for measuring the energy consumption of software while encouraging the emergence of new tools to help developers adopt good design practices for their software.” Lionel Seinturier, Head of the Spirals Research Team


“Reducing the environmental impact of digital technology involves all elements of its value chain. As a cloud service provider, OVHcloud's teams are committed to the DISTILLER project to develop knowledge about software bricks. By sharing this knowledge with our customers, partners and the community, we are committed to measuring an accurate and comprehensive environmental footprint for digital services. This complements our overall environmental strategy, going beyond the provision of renewable electricity or extending the life of our servers.” Tristan Vuillier, Program Manager Sustainability at OVHcloud


“The performance of native cloud applications and their optimised use of cloud infrastructures is a source of energy efficiency that goes towards reducing the environmental impact of the digital sector. This is an important issue for the future.” Véronique Guibert, CSR Director - Orange Innovation


The DISTILLER project in numbers:

Project duration: 36 months

Official start: 2022

Granted budget: € 664,580

Number of researchers involved: 15