Green IT/OT: How to Optimize the Footprint of a Digital System Based on MQTT

by Anthony Olazabal
11 min read

In an era marked by increasing environmental awareness and the imperative for sustainable practices, the fields of Green IT (Information Technology) and Green OT (Operational Technology) have emerged as pivotal contributors to a more eco-friendly and responsible technological landscape. As the global community grapples with the challenges posed by climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation, the convergence of IT and OT under the banner of "green" initiatives has become crucial for businesses and industries seeking to align their operations with ecological principles.

Green IT focuses on the design, implementation, and management of information technology systems in ways that minimize their environmental impact. This encompasses a range of strategies, from energy-efficient data centers and sustainable hardware design to the responsible disposal and recycling of electronic waste. Green IT aims not only to reduce the carbon footprint of digital infrastructure but also aims to optimize resource utilization and promote energy conservation throughout the entire lifecycle of technology.

Parallelly, Green OT extends the principles of sustainability to operational technologies, emphasizing eco-friendly practices in industrial and manufacturing processes. This involves integrating energy-efficient technologies, adopting clean and renewable energy sources, and enhancing the overall environmental performance of manufacturing and production systems. Green OT strives to harmonize industrial operations with ecological stewardship, fostering a holistic approach that considers the entire supply chain and the long-term ecological impact of industrial activities.

Both Green IT and Green OT share common objectives, seeking to balance technological advancement with environmental responsibility. By leveraging innovative solutions, such as virtualization, cloud computing, and IoT (Internet of Things), these fields aim to enhance efficiency, reduce waste, and minimize the carbon footprint associated with digital and industrial processes. The synergy between Green IT and Green OT presents a unique opportunity for organizations to not only enhance their sustainability profiles but also to drive innovation and economic growth through environmentally conscious practices. 

Achieving green IT/OT interoperability for systems based on MQTT

In this era of interconnected systems and rapid technological evolution, HiveMQ positions itself as the ideal bridge between OT and IT, leveraging the strengths of the MQTT protocol and providing both with a reliable, high-performance data routing platform.

Optimizing MQTT architecture for Green OT and Green IT involves adopting strategies that prioritize energy efficiency, resource conservation, and environmental sustainability. MQTT is a lightweight and efficient protocol commonly used for communication in IoT (Internet of Things), industrial applications and a lot of other use cases.

Here are some key considerations for optimizing an MQTT architecture in the context of Green OT and Green IT:

Considerations Focused on MQTT

1. Minimize message overhead

Reduce the size of MQTT messages to minimize data transmission requirements. This helps in optimizing bandwidth usage and lowering energy consumption in data transmission.

2. QoS levels selection

Carefully choose the Quality of Service (QoS) levels for MQTT messages. Higher QoS levels might result in increased network traffic and higher energy consumption. Evaluate the trade-offs between message reliability and energy efficiency based on the application requirements.

3. Use the Last Will and Testament (LWT) feature wisely

The Last Will and Testament feature in MQTT allows a device to specify a message that will be sent automatically if the device disconnects unexpectedly. While this feature is useful for ensuring the integrity of communications, use it judiciously to avoid unnecessary messages and potential energy waste.

4. Payload compression

Implement payload compression to reduce the size of MQTT messages. This is particularly useful when dealing with large data payloads, as it minimizes bandwidth usage and speeds up data transmission.

5. Message aggregation

Aggregate multiple small messages into a single larger message where possible. This reduces the number of messages transmitted over the network, minimizing the associated overhead.

6. Implement efficient retained messages

Retained messages in MQTT are used to store the last known good value for a topic. Efficiently use retained messages to minimize redundant data transmissions and reduce the overall messaging load on the network.

7. Batch processing

Group related data into batches for transmission at scheduled intervals. This approach reduces the frequency of communication and can be particularly effective in scenarios where real-time updates are not critical.

8. Optimize Keep-Alive intervals

Adjust the keep-alive intervals based on the specific requirements of your application. Longer intervals can reduce unnecessary communication overhead, but ensure that the intervals are not so long that they compromise the real-time responsiveness of the system.

9. Use efficient topic hierarchies

Design an efficient topic hierarchy that minimizes the number of topics and ensures clarity in message routing. A well-organized topic structure contributes to easier message filtering and reduces unnecessary data transmission.

10. Clean session handling

Use clean sessions when appropriate. Clean sessions discard any previous session state, reducing the amount of information that needs to be transmitted during a reconnection. This can be beneficial for resource optimization.

11. Use efficient data formats

Choose efficient data serialization formats (e.g., JSON, Protocol Buffers) based on the requirements of the application. Optimal data formats contribute to reduced message sizes and improved overall efficiency.

Other Considerations Focused on Systems and Equipment

1. Energy-efficient devices and sensors

Choose energy-efficient devices and sensors for implementing MQTT-enabled IoT devices. Low-power and energy-efficient hardware can significantly contribute to the overall green objectives of the system.

2. Load balancing and scalability

Implement load balancing strategies to distribute MQTT broker workloads efficiently. This not only enhances system scalability but also contributes to optimizing energy usage by ensuring that resources are utilized evenly.

3. Utilize edge computing

Leverage edge computing to process data closer to the source, reducing the need for extensive data transmission and central processing. This can lead to lower energy consumption and reduced latency in data processing.

4. Implement predictive maintenance

Use MQTT for transmitting data that facilitates predictive maintenance. By analyzing equipment data, organizations can predict potential issues and schedule maintenance activities, preventing unplanned downtime and improving overall operational efficiency.

5. Monitor and analyze energy consumption

Implement monitoring tools to continuously assess the energy consumption of MQTT-enabled systems. Use the insights gained to identify areas for improvement and optimize energy usage over time.

Conclusion

By incorporating these considerations into the design and implementation of MQTT architecture, organizations can contribute to the overarching goals of Green OT and Green IT. The optimization process should be iterative, considering the evolving nature of technology and the continuous advancement of sustainable practices in the IT and OT domains.

Anthony Olazabal

Anthony is part of the Solutions Engineering team at HiveMQ. He is a technology enthusiast with many years of experience working in infrastructures and development around Azure cloud architectures. His expertise extends to development, cloud technologies, and a keen interest in IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS services with a keen interest in writing about MQTT and IoT.

  • Contact Anthony Olazabal via e-mail
HiveMQ logo
Review HiveMQ on G2